Giro D’Italia — Getting back to Brakel

Day late and much sleep (at least a dollars worth) short

We left Northern Milan Monday morning. Vincent M. and I were to take the camper back to Brakel and, on the way, take one rider to the airport. Our camper started to shake and we knew something was wrong. We stopped 400 m shy of the airport exit. Felt like a flat tire. We checked and it was indeed a flat tire. But there was worse news. FOUR of the 6 lug nuts had broken off. Sheared! The two lug nuts remaining were less than finger tight.

Lucky for our rider an elderly couple stopped and asked if we needed help. We asked them if they could take our rider to the airport to make his flight. They actually happened to be going to the airport also so they obliged. What timing!!!

We have nothing to fix our problem, so we call Auto Service Italy. But even that was a challenge. We had (though we had) full European road side service. But we could not really understand it. So we called Barbara in Brakel to decode it. She did and called the Italian number for us. They asked the problem and (via caller ID — seeing it was a Belgium number) soon hung up. It was 10:00 AM when we stopped. Finally by 1:00 PM we got a truck to come get us. They tried to weld lug bolts onto the hub and bold the wheel on so they could roll/pull the camper onto a flat bed. The welded bolts broke after two wheel revolutions. Far from being on the flat bed. So the guy welded the wheel to the hub and got it on the flat bed and off to a garage. It was now almost 4:30 PM and they were closing soon. But they ordered the parts to be in by the next morning.

The next morning came around and the parts were in. It’s now 10:00 AM Tuesday and we are excited. But now the bolts were the wrong ones. So they fabricated new bolts. Finally it is now almost 4:00 PM TUESDAY and we are finally out of Milan. A long drive back to Brakel and I get to the service course at about 5:00 AM on Wednesday!!! I sleep a little but my nature gets me up at 9:00 AM. Especially since it is the service course and there are ALWAYS people there working. And we have to leave for the Dauphine in two days so I need to do SOME work. But finally after some work I crash out early and go to bed at 8:00 PM. I’m dead. Dead from the Giro. Dead from the 700 mile drive (and with stops for gas, etc., a 12 hour drive) Dead from getting home at 5:00 AM this morning.


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.