One cool thing about riding bikes is that the experience seems to transcend language and cultural barriers. Yeah, yeah, there are riders from all over the world participating in the Tour de France so maybe this isn't such an earth shattering observation. But, clearly, outside the racing milieu it is not necessarily a gimmee that we two-wheeled aficionados will all get along.
That doesn't mean that, like rabid soccer fans, rival cycling clubs are going to get in a few dust-ups at the local criterium. I might favor one rider or a team, you might favor another rider or team (but, you would be sadly mistaken with your affection). Cycling fans, especially those who ride a bike, seem to be fervent but respectful and that's a good thing.
So, there I was at the end of a cycling tour in Slovenia, Austria and Italy when I found myself on top of the Passo Tanamea. It was 5pm and it had been a long day. I just wanted to find a nice hotel in the next big town (Tarcento) and relax. Before the Tanamea, I had come over the Sella Carnizza, a pass that all serious cyclists should experience at least once in their lifetime. Here is a profile of this little leg breaker:
This all goes a long way in explaining why I needed to get out of my chamois ASAP. As I crested the Tanamea, which is on a very small, isolated road that leads from Italy to Slovenia, I was surprised to see another cyclist. A couple of moments later, a second rider appeared. I broke out my Italian and it was quickly determined that Dario and Danielle lived in a town very near my destination for the evening.
I think we all three just decided at once that we would ride together down into Tarcento so off we went on the 2000' descent. We rode as if we had been cycling together for years, rocketing through the twisty descents and unlit tunnels completely comfortable with each others riding.
This was the last big day of my trip and the descent with Dario and Danielle was a great way to celebrate a truly outstanding climbing fest in the Alps. To be sure, it would have been OK to roll into Tarcento by myself, but hooking up with my new Italian friends and hanging it out a bit on the descent was the perfect ending.
ps - Of course, this is another reason why you have to go to Europe.