Luke Evans is motorbike driver for top cycling photographer Graham Watson at the Giro d’Italia. Aside from piloting motorbikes, Luke is an author, freelance journalist and former editor of Cycle Sport magazine. Graham’s Giro photos can be seen in our gallery section.
May 21, Urbino – Cesena 199 km
Today started badly, got worse, then got really crap.
In the end it wasn’t so bad. If you’ve read yesterday’s blog you might recall me mentioning the throaty sound of my BMW. Well Graham remarked on it too, and I knew he had just stepped off French Jackie’s K1100 last week, which is the same bike as mine. Graham and I were also amused to see that one of his side-ons of Contador in yesterday’s TT showed him looking across directly at us. Was he checking out the terrain, the grey clouds, or was he also enjoying the gruff note of the BM motor?
All these things were adding up so I had a look at the exhaust this morning and noticed a tiny bit of movement in one pipe. Looking further down at the weld there was the unpleasant answer – a tiny crack. Curses! One day in and the bike’s already broken. But it’s not that bad, a bit sporty sounding and it must have been like this for a while, so I decided to leave it unless it got worse.
Funnily enough, the only other time a Spanish champion gave me a quizzical look was Miguel Indurain, who came alongside in Paris-Nice, pointed to my squeaking brakes and uttered words I will cherish forever: “la freno”.
So that was a bad start but it got a whole lot worse when I could not start the bike after half an hour of racing. Just after we had stopped to put on waterproofs as the heavy rain started. I felt totally wretched turning the engine over, getting soaked, while the race became a distant memory.
Graham helped me push the bike into a house garage, as more and more of the family came down to witness the sight of two Brits with a dead bike in the middle of nowhere. 20 minutes passed. My Giro was over. I faffed about one more time with the switches and she fired up and purred contentedly as if nothing had happened.
All the arrows were down so GW did some bush map reading and got us back into the race having missed 40 km.
Then it got really crap. The rain fell, it hammered, it came crashing down, flooding the road in brown torrents. I was already wet but my arms were shaking from the damp cold.
Such a shame as it was a blinding route with one incredible narrow climb of Monte Carpegna. The descents were hard but good practice and I began to enjoy myself when the sun came out at the end of the stage and I was able to marvel at the mad keen crowds in Cesena in their pink hats and t-shirts.
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May 20: Stage 10 Pesaro – Urbino