On the ride, I didn't see the usual suspects that I'd expected to encounter...Janey Katz and Bill Blakemore. After riding past Tyrone, I spotted a cyclist up ahead, which I knew wasn't Janey because the rider was on the shoulder of the highway. I knew it wasn't Bill because this rider was going at a pretty good pace. Bill's a good rider, but he's in his 70's and doesn't ride as good as this cyclist was going at it. As I closed on the rider, I realized that the rider was on a mountain bike and had on a filled backpack. Thinking it was somebody who was training, I thought I'd try to catch up and see who it was. Being on the Vitus, I was moving faster than the rider was. Eventually, I came up next to him. His name is Giorgio Alessi from Sicily, Italy. He is one of the racers on the 2012 Great Divide Mountain Bike Race. He and 4 other riders are still on the course. One is still way back in Colorado. The others are between Silver City, NM, and the Mexican border. Today, Giorgio was going to Hachita, NM. Turns out that he was carrying the backpack and a handlebar pack because his rear rack had broken 3 days ago and he had to combine what he most needed into those packs and leave the rest, including his panniers on the GDMBR course.
When we first started talking and he said he had started in Banff, Canada, I thought he might be a French-Canadian doing the GDMBR, but it turned out he was doing the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race, which goes from Banff, Canada, to the U.S./Mexican border. The winner of this race came in weeks ago. An interesting tidbit...in Colorado, Giorgio took 3 weeks off from the race to fly to England to do a race there! This guy is psycho. He has done the Ironman and the Ultraman, as well as the Double Decker Ultraman. He and others are planning on doing the Triple Decker Ultraman. Crazy! As Giorgio said when I asked him how he got into this kind of craziness, he started to say "friends" the corrected himself and said, "No. Not friends. A friend wouldn't get you into something like this." We laughed. I agreed. In Sicily, he and others run a private soccer school and they train young kids how to play soccer. On his own time, he teaches swimming. And he trains for these kind of rides. Giorgio said he knew he would not become rich, but that didn't interest him. He was more interested in pushing himself doing these kinds of events all over the world. Amazing guy. Just to clarify...in order to participate in the Ultraman, an athlete has to have participated in at least one Ironman competition. The Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race, and a 26.2 mile run (a marathon). Not on my list of things to do before I die.
At the top of the climb past Tyrone, I, of course, forgot to take my phone out and take a picture of him, but I did manage to get a few photos from the internet. We said our goodbyes and off he went towards Deming, NM, on to Hachita, NM. On Aug. 1, he should be at the border, then he'll get to Phoenix, AZ, and back to Sicily, Italy, by Aug. 13th. To start working on the Triple Decker Ironman! Maniac!
So, today's ride was pretty interesting. Living here and being a cyclist puts me in contact with lots of cyclists that are going through this area, either for the GDMB Route/Race or the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Route that goes from San Diego, CA, to San Augustine, FL. Plus being part of Warmshowers.org, I've met riders from Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, and, now, Italy. No where else have I met such a diverse group of cyclists.
Ok, a few photos of Giorgio that I got off the internet:
|Giorgio Receives The Honu Award|
The Honu Award is given to the last competitor who crosses the finish line before the 6pm Sunday cut-off. This year, the award - a wooden honu with the Ultraman logo carved on its back - went to Giorgio Alessi. The 44yr old P.E. teacher from Sicily, Italy, finished his seventh Ultraman with just 13 minutes to spare. He had a pretty good excuse for being the last athlete on the course. Ten days ago, he completed the Deca-Iron Challenge in Monterrey, Mexico. Alessi ran 10 Ironman distance races in 10 days, covering nearly 1500 miles and spending more than 150 hours racing. Oh, and, in early August, he finished the Ultraman Canada in little more than 30 hours. Unbelievable.
Now, a tune to go with...Antonio DeBenedetto a.k.a. Tony Bennett singing "Stranger In Paradise". Truly, one of the last crooners and an amazing singer. And Italian. For you, Giorgio.