Monthly Archives: July 2016

  • THE MARTINI CONNOLLY FAT LADS AT THE BACK ITALIAN TOUR IN AID OF THE ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY Day 3

    Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_16

    DAY 3:

    1. LAY IN:

    I had thought about waking us earlier, but had to allow time for my body to recover as best it could and I did feel as if I have been hit by a train, plus I also needed time for the alcohol to drain out. Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_14

    2. TRULY SPECTACULAR:

    What panoramas we enjoyed, the scenery in the Italian mountains is breathtaking and I still can’t look at this photo without feeling sick and getting a flashback to how I felt when I came around the corner and saw the 750 feet sheer drop at the side of the road. My sphincter tightened like a chicken strokes grip!

    Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_15

    3. LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL:

    IMG_1449We didn't factor in the tunnelsI And I ain't talking British tunnels, like the Wall
    asey tunnel under the Mersey with its poncey wide lanes, painted white walls, full illumination with ventilation fans every 100 meters.

    These tunnels are rough hewn from the rock, large ‘boulders’ jut out to the side of your head and can easily knock you off your bike if you dare get too close to the side.

    Barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass, let alone the huge juggernauts laden with marble slabs. Pitch black, save for the wholly inadequate, intermittent, tiny, dim lights every 30 yards and with a mine of potholes that of course you couldn’t see.  Each one became a chicken run, our sole purpose, just to get through alive!
    4. THE ABYSS:

    The first tunnel was enough to make you not want to do it again. 125m long but as it got dark, it got light again. That was followed by a quick 75m - listen out for lorries and then a sprint to the light. Then we came to the mouth of the top-most tunnel. At 1125m long, it just disappeared into an abyss. Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_13

    Conno, whose bottom was unpredictable from the previous night's drinking, needed some encouragement and thankfully Rob came to the rescue producing his £2.50 Aldi flashing hand torch from his saddle bag. The size of a 50 pence piece and with 0.001 lumens, we had light. Rob The Saviour. Yippee. We will live!  Our preparation is the stuff of legend and so we went for it and individually we prayed to each of our Gods for Mercy.

    5. IL TRUMPETO:

    Rob mastered the art of the cycling fart. It requires technique, timing and supreme control and serves as a thermal slap to the face to the person tailgating you. Nevertheless, you have to be surreptitious. Rob would slow down a tad so the G Man was inches from his back wheel and then in a snap, he’d raise his ‘culo' and come to a fixed ridged position, torso parallel to the road. The mastery comes from IL TRUMPETO being released at precisely the same moment! Any delay and Conno would see the raised buttocks and takes evasive action.

    Perfectly executed it serves 3 purposes:

    1. Rocket propulsion. In the higher echelons of our sport it is all about fine margins. That extra blast of air in Conno's face gives your bike discernible forward thrust.
    2. Childish satisfaction.
    3. It proved a tremendous motivational tool for the team. When u are really down and nearly out wondering from where you are possibly going to find the energy to cover the distance to the next hair pin IL TRUMPETO followed by “Oh! For ***** sake!!" Makes u properly belly laugh on your bike, your morale lifts and you beat the next 5 kms. Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_12

    6. THE BEAUTIFUL CAMEO’S:

    We met some wonderful people, the stuff of Tarantino movies and perhaps the subject of a blog on its own. In fact this has been a real theme of our trip. From the waitress who properly got the giggles because I ordered 3 "bears" instead of 3 steaks on the bone. The Canadian couples preparing for their daughters' wedding in Tuscany. I asked for a photo, to which they responded "a group". I chastised them saying I don't know how they do things in Vancouver but we weren't suggesting any ambitious sexual positions and then as I put my arms around them I apologised and told them to prepare for ‘Smell of Man’. And then my favourite. The Old Bloke Guarding the Pier at Forte de Marmi as if his life depended on it. He sprang from nowhere like a bridge troll, to stop us in our tracks. Apoplectic at the thought that we were actually going to cycle on to his pier. Only 5'4. (just a bit smaller than Rob) and about 70 with his beige pants, belted up to just a few inches below his nipples he was getting all Sopranos with the towering 6’ tall G Man. We pulled Andy away and left the geezer to guard his footpath. Respect due, he wasn't backing down. We discussed storming him at full pelt on our bikes, BMX Bandits style but decided we didn't fancy mixing it with him and his palls who would have probably shown up on their mobility scooters.  We gave him some northern hard knock looks and pedalled on, dignity intact.

    7. WE SALUTE THE BUS DRIVER:

    Having left the house at 12:30pm instead of 9am we ran out of sun. Despite 40 miles and 5,000 feet Conno was all deflated that we had missed out on the double figure stats of the previous day and the goon was even questioning whether we had earnt  our dinner!

    With the last train long gone, we approached the bus driver at Lucca station. He was just about to leave and confirmed that he WAS going to our town, Castelnuovo Di Garfagnana. Ticket?

    No!

    They don't take credit cards, so Rob ran to the ticket booth which of course was shut. We looked at him like 3 lost 6 yr old boys. Then he told his mate to put the bikes in the lock up and us to jump aboard. It was pitch black when we arrived in Castelnuovo Di Garfagnana and we still needed to get to the house, but thankfully, we are not worried as Rob had his light!Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_11

  • THE MARTINI CONNOLLY FAT LADS AT THE BACK ITALIAN TOUR IN AID OF THE ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY Day 2

    DAY 2:      Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_9  1. DEAR LORD HELP US:

    33 miles and we had climbed 8,500 feet and 2 mountains. You’d think you’d pray for the descents but in fact, you resent them because you know the pain that's going to follow. We stopped for ice cream in the ski resort of Abettone, knowing that we still had a further 45 miles to do and 3 hours to do them in. Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_5

    2. SHORT BACK AND SIDES:

    Rob has become increasingly concerned with his chaffing. Something about the salt content in his er… shorts! I have no sympathy as he has brought it on himself. At 43 he has never ‘male’ groomed. A troop of gorillas could happily hide 'there' for years without detection. I on the other hand have always partook, not for the hygiene but for the aesthetics and because in the mirror my **** always looks a good couple of inches longer with a short back and sides. Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_2

    3. NO CHANCE:

    Go back to my first script. Rob saying 4,000 feet of climbing on consecutive days was too much to ask. If you would have said to me I could do what I have done, I would tell you NO CHANCE. If you would have said that my bro’, with his maturing derby (male pregnant tummy) could do what he has done, I would have said there’s more likelihood of him stopping a pig, running thro his little Iti bow legs.  If u would have said that Conno could do it, I would have spat Prosecco in your face.

    But, we did do it.

    Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_1

    Here are the Strava Stats:

     81.4 miles.

    7.25 hrs in the saddle.

    6,637 calories burned.

    16,344 feet climbed!!!

     Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_3

    4. THERE ARE MOUNTAINS AND THEN THERE ARE ITALIAN MOUNTAINS:

    As Conno said, it’s pointless trying to describe what we did to people who were not beside us, living the sheer pain.  The first 20 miles was a mountain climb, every turn of the pedal hurt, every single rotation was an effort. For 20 miles. We didn't just climb one mountain, but frickin 2!! And I ain't talking the pathetic hills we call mountains in Blighty.  I am talking proper mountains with ski lifts on the top and everything. Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_4

    5. MANCHESTER TO LIVERPOOL:

    After the ascent we did 30 miles, pure downhill clocking up speeds of 40mph. Braking like billio into the corners and frankly crapping ourselves that we we're going to smash in to the stone walls which keep the landslides in check.

    30 non stop minutes of pulling on the brakes takes it toll and at the bottom I felt like I had white finger. I haven’t felt vibrations in my in my left hand like that since I was 16!  Imagine, hurtling down a mountain at break neck speed, never pedalling once, for 30 miles, that’s the same distance as Manchester to Liverpool.

    And then think, to come down you’ve gotta go up.

    6. RESPECT TO THE GHINGER MAN:

    I cannot write enough about the love, admiration and respect Rob and I have for the Ghinger Man. What an inspiration he is and boy, can he cycle! The man has rhythm, he climbs like a goat, he’s a natural even though he’s never ridden a big boy racing bike before, let alone with cleats.

    He beats me, hands down and I’ve been riding bikes all my life.

    Let’s talk about his training - 3 weeks. Let me say that again, the man did 3 weeks training for this and is living proof that human beings can achieve ANYTHING when we set our mind to it. Think of all the bullshit excuses you have come up why you couldn’t do something. There are a million reasons why G Man could have said no to Rob and me and lots of them were genuinely good reasons and we would have understood. But no, G Man is more than that, “Life is for living” he said and he grasped it and HE DID IT!

    Next time you think of how difficult something is and you’re about to come up with an excuse, just think of G Man and DO IT!

    Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_63 WEEKS I tell you!

     

    7. PREPARATION PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE?

    So, to last night and the local bar, owned by Mirko the Memory Man.  A few pints, a bottle of wine (shared), a Limoncello digestivo, some Grappa, another cheeky 1am pint and some 2am Sambucca later and we were ready to boogie woogie all night long. Yes Sir!

    The mention of a beach party at Forte di Marme, being held by the Italian guy who owns QPR was more than appealing. Safe to say it was a good job Mirko’s Mini Cooper S Works does not have 6 seats as undoubtedly he would have driven us and his brother and bezzie along the narrow road (think of the road in the Italian Job and make it smaller) like a crazy motherflipper!

    8. HANDS OFF THE SAUSAGE:

    But I have to say, the fact that Mirko’s phone was full of numbers of local lap dancers and ‘such like’ was off putting to us at all. Honestly! In addition to the fact that I / we object on moral and fidelity grounds, Rob was also keen to point out on Wednesday that despite the giddiness of being away from our wives and sleeping alone for a few days, certain er…… ‘self massage activities’ were absolutely forbidden lest we lose the umff needed the next day to get up the mountain.

    9. PASSPORT UPDATE:

    I’ve just been told that UPS has a technical problem and they cannot get Conno’s passport to us until Monday. I will tell Conno tomorrow. What's the point of him worrying about his acting abilities now!?

    Fat Lad At The Back Alzheimers Society Martini_8

    Paolo, Rob and Conno are raising money for the Alzheimers Society.

    If you're enjoying Paolo's bog you can donate a couple of quid here:

  • THE MARTINI CONNOLLY FAT LADS AT THE BACK ITALIAN TOUR IN AID OF THE ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY Day 1

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    DAY 1:

    THE FLIGHT:

    1. Always prepare for a curve ball at the airport, especially when it's 3 blokes who ordinarily have women, organising their every move.

    NO TOOLS BUT YOUR MATES:

    2. Our first airport mishap was security confiscating my 3 cool tools. Tbf they didn't adopt a ‘computer says no’ attitude and told me they would pop them in lost property and they should be there on our return.

    CHECK YOUR PASSPORT:

    3. Whatever you do, DON’T take your son’s passport instead of your own.

    Being a ghinger, Conno ordinarily has a pale complexion, however the pallor of his skin was Lil-lets white and his freckles shone out like a million tiny suns. He had brought his 12 yr old son's passport.

    “I've done all that training for nothing.” said Conno.  3 weeks in his garden can hardly be described as ‘all that’, but respect to him!

    DIVERSION TACTICS:

    4. Realising there wasn't another flight for days, drastic measures were called for. We were 30 feet from passport control, Conno mentioned Midnight Express. To hell with it we thought we were last in the queue and the staff wanted us on the plane. We rapidly put in place a number of diversion tactics. Rob stared at his flip flops, Conno dropped his paperwork on the floor at the last minute and I notified the woman on the desk that a girl had just told us to tell them she had to go for a quick poo, so please could they wait for 5 minutes. Of course the girl had said toilet but I got an uncomfortable laugh out of the attendant!IMG_1304

    FORGET ACTING LESSONS:

    5. You could not script 3 more guilty looking geezers. It could have been a cut scene from Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, the looks on our faces were that of slapstick panic / horror. But in no time, we are speeding up the tarmac and Rob was discussing the chances of a Guantamano Bay experience for Conno at Italian passport control.
    Tough decision which of the passport controllers was least conscientious; which queue to go in? Massimo looked particularly not arsed. Dio bless him! He took Conno’s 12 year old son’s passport, checked the photo and the details and then handed it back.IMG_1305

    IT’S HOT IN PISA:

    6. Add that to the list under hopeless preparation.

    Other than my spoke breaking, the ride to my Dad’s house went without incident and it must be said Conno is a demon; a veritable Stephen Roach. Apart from the fact that he was at the back for the whole ride, save the monster climb at the end, where he took all the glory.IMG_1328

    ALWAYS POP THE BONNET BEFORE YOU TRY TO STEAL A CAR:

    7. After 63 miles and it turns out 5,400 feet of climbing, we arrived home, starving and around 4,726 calories lighter! A quick shower and we got into Dad's Opel Estate with the intention of heading out for supper. It was as dead as a Dodo! No surprise, with dirt an inch thick on the windows, obscuring every view it was clear that the car had been insitu, in the field for the last 12 months.

    Rob thought his Salford van hire experience was sufficient that once the car was on the road he’d be able to bump start it, so for an hour, the three of us pushed and pushed the ‘tank’ out of the wet field, in our flip flops.

    What an effort and then, Rob managed to steer the car into a tree, tbf he was going backwards and it actually turned out to be a good thing because otherwise the car would have dropped into the ditch 30 feet below. It all seemed a good and sensible idea at the time.

    We were wondering how we were going to move the car so our cousin could get past in the morning to drive to work and so I rang a pal who popped round with some jump leads. Undoubtably we should have started with this idea in the first place but all my blood was in my legs, not my brain. As I popped the bonnet I saw that somebody had disengaged the battery. This is the finest bit of car mechanics I have ever produced and a couple of minutes later we were mobile and on our way to dinner and the biggest steaks you could wish for.

    IMG_1319 NEVER ADMIT ANYTHING/DON’T TELL MARTINO:

    8."Make sure that plonker does not drive my car” my Dad said. “It has no insurance, no MOT and no brakes.” By my calculations that's about 12 penalty points.
    Unlawful taking of a motor-vehicle, maybe a three month prison sentence? And also the slightest possibility of drink-driving on the way home. But, who drove? And were they drunk?IMG_1318

     

    Paolo, Rob and Conno are raising money for The Alzheimers Society.

    You can donate here:

    https://www.justgiving.com/Susan-Martini1?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Susan-Martini1&utm_campaign=pfp-email

     

  • THE MARTINI CONNOLLY FAT LADS AT THE BACK ITALIAN TOUR in aid of THE ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY 27.7.16

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    CHALLENGE:

    Paolo Martini, Brother Roberto Martini and lifelong best friend Andrew (Conno) Connolly are currently cycling the mountains of northern Tuscany for 4 days in aid of the Alzheimers Society.

    Follow their hilarious antics (which are mostly, nothing to do with cycling) here!

    STATS:

    Combined age - 138 years

    Combined ‘overweight’ - 5 stones

    Combined training regime - 9 weeks.

    Conno was only told about it 3 weeks ago.

    Conno has never ridden a road bike or worn cycling shoes with cleats before.

    Over the 4 days the three amigos plan to ride 255 miles and climb over 21,000 feet.

    INTERESTING FACTS:

    21,000 feet is 6,000 feet more than Mont Blanc, 500 feet more than Mount Kilimanjaro and  8,000 feet short of the summit of Everest.

    COMMENTS FROM THE LADS ON HEARING THE ROUTE:

    Rob: (the serious cyclist of the group)

    "Are u mad? They're crazy horse shoe figures them! Go to north wales and do a 4000 ft ride which is enough to turn ur d*ck & b*lls inside out, then think about doubling it, then think about doing it again the very next day. I don’t think that’s happening”

    Conno:

    “I’ve contacted Easyjet for a refund on my flights.”

    Paolo:

    “To be fair to Rob we did climb 4,000 feet last Sunday over the Horse Shoe pass near Llangollen and he has a point! My gonads are still like chestnuts. Little chestnuts.”

    Still not impressed, read on.  They 3 reckon they will be drunk on wine and Peroni for at least 2/5ths of the route. So please give generously.

    https://www.justgiving.com/Susan-Martini1?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Susan-Martini1&utm_campaign=pfp-email

    Sponsored by; Uber Taxis Italia. ItaliaRail. AnalCare.co.uk

     

    A NOTE FROM THE TEAM LEADER Paolo Martini

    First, just watch this video for 2 minutes and you will get a feel of what we are trying to achieve. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8a2-ah1V50

    Just £5 will do.

    The lads on the video are ex pro’s, as skinny as flip and are cycling with support. Rob, Conno and I only have each others backsides to keep us inspired and motivated.

    And just think, we’re doing this ride NOW as you're reading this. 

    Useful facts:

    This is one of THE classic all Italian mountain rides

    San Pelligrino is at the top of my Dad’s mountain

    There is a saint in a glass coffin which is very nice to see

    It is 16 miles all up hill from my Dad’s house

    After San Pelligrino we have a further 69 miles to cycle

    10 of those miles are uphill

    Yesterday we cycled from Pisa to my Dad’s house, which is 56 miles and nearly 4,000 feet climb. That’s 400 feet higher than Mt Snowdon. 

    In truth we don’t think doing the San Pelligrino will be the biggest challenge. We think that will come tomorrow when we wake up at 6:30 am and have to get back on our bikes and ride up and over the L'uomo Morto Alpi Apuane. I dread to think how my body will feel when my mobile telephone alarm goes off. 

    Check it out on the net. This climb is1,000 feet higher and10 miles longer (86 miles) than San Pelligrino. Half way is the exclusive resort of Forte Dei Marme and we will be able to se my Dad’s house across the valley. 

    We have selected this route because we take in the quarry of Carrara, from where Michelangelo selected his marble for David, undoubtedly the most famous sculpture in the history of mankind. We’ll be in the saddle for 10 hours and we may run out of daylight so we reserve the right to catch the train home or as near to home as we can get. 

    On Saturday we’re back on our bikes for the ride back to Pisa, another 56 miles and perversely yet another 2,000 feet of climbing. How unfair is that?!

    So come on guys. Support me. and if you know anybody that has got a few quid forward them this link

    https://www.justgiving.com/Susan-Martini1?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Susan-Martini1&utm_campaign=pfp-email

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