As my ride in the Beacons was quashed by my better half this weekend, I decided to do a loop I saw in CW the other week.
It was one that an ex Italian Pro, Flavio Zappi, put in as part of an interview with him. He held the climbers jersey in the Giro for 2 weeks (only lost it on the last stage to Laurent Fignon), was 12th in Milan-San Remo etc in the 80's, and is an elite still at the age of 48!
It turns out he lives in Abingdon, and owns and runs a cafe in Oxford. The loop started and ended at his cafe, but as I live within about 10 miles of the mid point, I thought I'd do the loop, starting mid-way round, and have a look at the cafe out of interest.
The ride was really nice, lots of bits I didn't know, and after about 65 miles I ended up outside a nice little cafe in my favourite part of Oxford - Jericho.
I put my bike against the window, and asked a trustworthy looking guy sat at the next table if he would keep an eye on it, he obliged.
I ordered a tuna roll from the girl behind the counter, and then heard an Italian accent say "ah..another cyclist". Flavio was really enthusiastic about cycling, and when he found out I had left my bike outside, he left the counter, went outside and bought my bike inside, moving tables inside to find it a safe place!
We spoke about bikes, racing etc, and I happily listened to him speaking about growing up and riding with the likes of Chiapucci, who he rides with everytime he goes back to Italy.
He invited me to join him on some of his organised group training rides, and I really hope to do so.
He passed me a very nice espresso, without even asking for any money! It was an unexpected treat to meet a rider of his pedigree and history, and even better to find the he is such a genuinely nice guy.
He said to drop him a mail and to keep in touch, and maybe one of his training rides can be made to go in my direction and we could hook up, I thought that was really cool.
His website is really interesting too, check it out here:
If you read this Flavio, thanks for a really nice and unexpected experience today...