Monday, September 24, 2012

My first real job on a bike

Saturday I was Leif's assistant again, this time for a group of  twenty-two Swedes from Gothanburg. Not a local ride, but from a little town south of here called Staggia to Siena.

We got up early,rode our bikes to the train station, and loaded the bikes and ourselves onto the train for the ride to Poggibonsi. Once we arrived we mounted our bikes again and rode the roughly three miles to Staggia to wait for the bus to arrive. It was actually a beautiful ride. It was early, so the air was cool and the sun was shining. A couple of times I thought I should stop and take a picture because no one would believe that I had such an amazingly beautiful commute to work, but we were moving pretty fast and unlike American roads there really aren't any shoulders to pull off onto. So we rode on as I watched the rolling hills pass by, topped with cypress trees and covered in olive groves and grape vines. An occasional stone tower rising above the trees. The smell of smoke from the fires built after olive tree pruning. If you're not jealous yet you should be.

While we waited for the bus we had a quick coffee and pastry. I'm finally getting the hang of eating and drinking standing up (only breakfast, mind you) at the cafe bar. Of course I'm usually doing it during a ride and the pastry doesn't last very long at all.

The guests arrived and Leif talked with them about the coming ride, about the bikes and to let them know that I only know a few words of Swedish. No matter how Swedish I look.

Harley guys are the same
all over the world.
The people on this trip all work together....this trip is a bonus for a good year together. Some people worked in the office and some worked in the field. By field I mean that they drilled and dug deep holes to do geological assessments and then built the project that the people in the office designed and engineered. Definitely two different kinds of people, but still a close group who enjoyed each other. There was a point at which I was a little worried. Before we even left the parking lot some of the guys started doing wheelies. I probably don't need to say that these were the guys sporting motorcycle t-shirts, do I?

The group was large, Leif is riding at the front near the bridge
It's quite a skill, getting twenty-two people of various riding skills and motivation from point A to point B on bicycles with the goal of arriving together. That's why I was there, to bring up the rear and make sure no one got lost or too disheartened. Even the ones who worried to me out loud about the ride did a great job. Only a couple of people walked and then only once. So I think they arrived at their hotel (as a group, no stragglers) feeling like they'd done something pretty wonderful and unusual. Something to be proud of.

Lunch at the hotel. A lovely way to
end the ride.

It just goes to show how much faith I have in my husband. We rode hills that I would normally have hesitated at climbing, but that day I knew that he wouldn't have brought me along if he didn't think I could do the ride. His reputation is at stake when he hires me as an assistant and he won't compromise that just to be nice to me. I looked at some of those hills and thought "My God," then thought "Leif must think I can do this," and rode like I actually believed I could do it. And I left that day thinking I'd like to do this again.

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