Reflections On The 2022 Viva Italia
“Veni, vidi, vici.” – Julius Caesar.
The 2022 Viva Italia is done and dusted. Yes, we came, we saw, but didn’t conquer, and had no plans to do so. We came to experience and relish the magical qualities of Italy, from gnocchi to gelato, from vino to pasta, from great pizzas to tasty specialties, from each region we cycled through. We saw magnificent art and glorious architecture, mind boggling museums and out of this world Duomos (cathedrals), azure bays and sandy beaches, orchards of olives and fields of tomatoes, rugged mountains and green valleys, vistas that take your breath away and towns that seems about to slide into the sea.
Here and there we conquered a steep climb and a long cycling day. But we didn’t come to conquer. We came to cycle and enjoy, we came to absorb as much as possible of this vibrant place and live in the moment. And perhaps, we also came to reflect. After all, when you visit and walk through the ruins of Pompei, or wander the streets of Florence, Rome, or Palermo, you inevitably ponder about lives lived, about personal ambitions, glories, the futility of war, the impact of religious beliefs, the impermanence of things, the shortness of our lives and what we do with our time on this planet.
In the final days, as the tour approached the finish line, while cycling and between foraging for different crops – after all there is nothing better tasting than a fresh fruit picked from an overhanging branch – I was reflecting that not so long ago, I and the rest of our company staff were lingering at home, wondering when we would again be able to roam the world and do what we love doing. And now, in the last days of Viva Italia, our little company was actually running five different trips on five continents. In addition to the Viva Italia, we had the Trans Oceania, the North American Epic, the Bamboo Road, and the South American Epic, all running smoothly. Not bad, I quipped to myself. What would be a good tag line for us, I quietly mused? If you have an idea, please do let me know.
“How did you manage to survive and recover so well. It was a subject of conversation on the Tour d’Afrique this year” asked Uwe, one of the participants on the shortened 2022 Tour d’Afrique and enjoying cycling on the Viva Italia? Well Uwe, we had help from our government, we had, and still have, resilience – I even wrote a blog about that during Covid – and we have a wonderful team that knows what is important and what is not. But perhaps the answer is to be found in my first blog, written in isolation in my basement just as the COVID pandemic went worldwide. I had just arrived home from our company annual meeting in the Azores.
In that first blog – A Few Thoughts From My Basement – I wrote, “Yes, currently there are many unknown unknowns, but our modus operandi has not changed. We, as always, strive to do the right thing, whether that means taking steps to protect our participants or offer full refunds for our cancelled tours. We also try to see the big picture, keep our wits about us and deal with whatever comes up in a rational way. The coronavirus is a challenge but if you look at the big picture of humanity and the adversity it has overcome, if we all keep our wits about us, soon enough it will be just another virus which humanity has learned to deal with and overcome. We at TDA certainly have no doubts about it. And this one thing is certainly not an unknown fact.”
In another blog that I wrote during the pandemic – We Are Not Made of Sugar Candy – I quoted Winston Churchill, “For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Except, except perhaps be a cyclist who loves exploring the world. And if you are that, then you will find a way of continuing to do so. That, my dear Uwe, is perhaps the best answer.
To all the participants and staff of the Viva Italia and to the support teams that are currently spread all over the world, it was a blast. THANK YOU! See you soon, somewhere else, back in our saddles, looking at the mountains that we are about to climb and asking ourselves, ‘what are we doing here’?