Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Interview: Jai Crawford

Recently Mrs. SV has been looking at some exciting options for our site and during her R&D she started researching riders who have had an impact on the Asia cycling scene. Mrs. SV, being Australian, naturally gravitated towards Audalia Ren!

From her work, we have been hugely fortunate to have been put in touch with Mr. Jai Crawford! Please see the start of our conversation below:


JC in Jelajah Malaysia

Mrs. Shanghaivelo: How long you have been riding and how did you get started?

Jai Crawford: I've been riding XC Mountain Bikes and Road Bikes for about 8 years. I started out in MTB with my eldest brother and eventually started racing and progressed from there.


MSV:
Some information about your current team:
Jai Crawford: I'm riding for Australian Continental team Savings and Loans. The team has been around a few years but this is my first year with them. We have a strong group of riders who work well together and an excellent Director Sportif in Pat Jonker, one of Australia's best ex professional road cyclists.

Tour de Langkawi, 2009. 2nd place.

MSV: What was your first race in China?

Jai Crawford: I first raced in China in 2007 at Tour of Qinghai Lake. I struggled with the altitude and didn't ride as well as I would have liked.

MSV:
Tell us about your current Bike(s):


Jai Crawford:I'm riding my team issue Avanti Quantum Team road bike and TT bike. Both bikes are exceptionally good, they ride as well as any of the popular European and American bikes I've used over the years. We are using 2009 Shimano Dura Ace on our bikes and I have to say that its proven be excellent.





MSV: How is your race calendar looking for 2009? Any season goals you have?

Jai Crawford: Our next race is Tour of Korea in early June. The main goals of my season were to finish on the podium at Tour de Langawi and Tour of Qinghai Lake. I was able to achieve the first one riding with my National Team and right now I'm preparing for Qinghai Lake. A result in that race should secure me a contract on one of the bigger European teams in 2010, so I'm really focussing on that race and really none of the other races matter to me this year. We will be doing a few of the events in Australia, including the Herald Sun Tour. Hopefully we will have a start in Tour of Hainan and few other events in Asia.


(Please note excellent sock height and colour - ed.)
MSV: Your favourite cyclist of all time?

Jai Crawford: I'm a fan of Jan Ulrich, as much for his character as his incredible cycling ability.


der kaiser. . . he looks fast even in slow motion. . . . actually he isn't even moving. . .
 
MSV: Your role model?

Jai Crawford: I don't really have a role model. I am who I am and I live life according to the way I see it.

MSV:
What is your favorite race in China, and why?

Jai Crawford:
Tour of Qinghai Lake would be my favourite if it didn't rain and get so bitterly cold! The mountains there are right up my alley. Tour of Hainan has a much more comfortable climate but the race a little too flat for my attributes.


MSV:
What motivates you to ride hard?

Jai Crawford:
I started out riding hard because I liked to, I enjoyed riding and feeling pain was a sure sign you were doing it as you should be. Now, as a professional athlete, the work I put in and the pain involved in training and racing is far too excessive to be motivated solely by a love of the sport. Money plays a role now, cycling is my job and if I didn't pursue prize money and bigger contracts I would be doing a pretty poor job.


MSV:
What was your biggest ever cycling fashion faux pas?

Jai Crawford:
I remember I wore a pair of thick, black Explorer socks that came up to my knees during a 24 hour indoor roller event, they were pretty untidy and quite amusing for all involved.

We like this outfit on him better... Polka Dot Jersey, Wellington, NZ.

MSV: What do you like to do other than ride?

Jai Crawford: I enjoy cooking, and I especially enjoy eating. I had some great Chinese food whilst living in Nanjing last year and I can't wait to go back for a holiday and eat some more. I try to spend as much time as I can with my wife when I'm not training, she's my best friend as well as my wife!

MSV:
Your favourite place (anywhere on earth) to ride?
Jai Crawford: Tuscany in Italy, its hilly, beautiful, you get respect from motorists and the food is great.

Quite a few people concur... Tuscany 2009

MSV: Your best book about cycling?

Jai Crawford: I haven't really read any books about cycling that stand out as great ones.

MSV:
Y
our shoe size?

Jai Crawford: 43.5

So there you have it! It seems the average Shanghai Velo rider has the perfect shoe size to make it pro! Jai Crawford has the same size shoes as JP. Coincidence? I think not.

Huge thanks to Jai! Good luck in your up-coming races. Jai Yo, Jai Yo, Jai Yo.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

THAILAND! Tour of Friendship

Final day of racing. Like every day, hot at the starting line, already 30 degrees, to reach a high of 35 at the finishing line. Remember this is air temperature in the shadows, not the actual temperature on the road (no clouds either). Fortunately, as always, the motorcycles were riding next to us with ample water to fill our bottles and more over our heads.

Due to road construction, the course was shortened to flat 97 km. Andre took his shot early one, 1 km out of the start, he got a 300 meter lead on the pelaton but no one joined and he was caught after another 4 km. First half of the race saw multiple attempts to get away, no one even being allowed off the front as the lead teams held the race tight. Halfway through the race, our average was 37 kph, with lots of lulls in the action, until finally three riders escaped.

At 70 km, Shanghai's very own Paul Toohey waited until another breakaway attempt was pulled in, then launched an attack with massive speed, quickly pulling away. After he got 400 meters, the pelaton responded, but just as we were about to catch him we came to an overpass and the pelaton slowed just so slightly, and Paul was gone again.

Ten km from the finish, the pace picked up to 45 kph, never to get below that pace again. I moved into the 10th position and was able to bridge to a three man break at the top of an overpass, but the pelaton wasn't in a mood to let it get away and pulled it in quickly. The final several km had several overpasses and turns, the pace sneaking up to 50+ kph, by the time the 3km sign appeared I was struggling to hold my front position, and soon was struggling even to hold a wheel. The key to winning was being one of the first few around a u-turn with 1.1 km to go; no one from Shanghai could hold the fast pace that long.

In the 50+ category, Chang-chi did honors to Shanghai by earning second in a group sprint.

As always, solid Thai food ready shortly after the finish.

Dead tired, very happy, looking forward to next year.

Thank you again Allen!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Interview: JP Dawance (Voted: Best Overall Cyclist Shanghai!)

JP on the front!

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Shanghaivelo: How long you have been riding?

JP: I started when I was 13 years old, hence long time ago... However, there were in between several long periods off the bike like from 17 to 19 to resume football and then later for studies, for football again and then for some jobs abroad in “cycling incompatible” countries. No more long interruptions since I restarted in 1998 with two seasons in Belgium and then two seasons in France. A clear peak in 2003, thanks to my meeting with Mr. Doug Cousineau (my guru), as well as Gudo Kramer, the manager of the Marco Polo team (who helped fulfill my dream of riding a professional race)… and the SARS!
JP Spreads the love. . . .
Shanghaivelo: How you got into/started cycling?

JP: I started riding when my father who had been a good runner decided to resume with sport in his late thirties. I was 13 years old and playing football, pretty much the only sport activity at that time. Two years after, having reached the age of 15 years old, hence the minimum age for racing, I thrown a bomb at home when announcing I would be stopping football. How could I even consider this?... The second bomb came 30 seconds later when my parents found out the reason behind was to race. After several months of negotiation, the “no way” became a “yes with conditions”. I was finally on the start line. My weak results drove me quite naturally back to the football pitch where I could succeed. Football is the most beautiful game in the world. Cycling is the most epic sport.
Shanghaivelo: Some information about your team?
JP: TCR (TREK China Racing) is a very strong team with a fantastic team spirit. You saw only a fraction of it in the 2008 FHL series as most of the racers are from Beijing area. Despite this, we had a good share of victories and podiums. Todd is perfectly managing the blend of experienced and younger talented racers. Some of you could witness the near perfect race in Suzhou last autumn (only a stellar Chia was able to counter our plans) but what a pleasure to get handshakes and congratulating words from people we do not even know for the way we shaped and conducted the race. Recruitment for 2009 is ideal. We shall be in a better position to contest also the team general classification in 2009.
JP in third wheel even without TT bike and funny looking helmet!
Shanghaivelo: Your Bike(s)?
JP: A TREK Madone 6.9 Pro Trek-Marco Polo team 2008 that you will discover at the first FHL race of the season on March 28th. A rocket! Prepare your camera! ;-)
A TREK Madone SSL 6.9 Discovery Chanel-Marco Polo team 2007 that I used in Shanghai last year until July but which is now my racing bike in Belgium. Very stable and so keen to accelerate. A piece of art also.
My wife’s preference: the first one ever being tolerated in my living room for short stays!
A TREK aluminium 2500 1999 which is my first Trek and my first aluminum. I bought it as Trek did a special effort to give me a very attractive price when they hear it was a kind of “non budgeted emergency” as it came to replace my previous bike, stolen after a race. After 10 years of very loyal services, my elder son now uses it when he wants to go (fast!) to her girlfriend place without me knowing…
A Cannondale CAAD 7, my winter training bike.
And finally a heavy steel Scott mountain bike which I promise I did not steal from the museum; Once it was new!
Shanghaivelo: What you do for training?

JP: Nothing really special anymore… Since few years I privilege the fun of riding with the FHL group but trying to be consistent. Few weeks before my holidays in Belgium, I usually intensify and tailor a bit in the sense that races over there have nothing in common with the long stretch of the A30! But only group rides, even at fast pace, are not good enough if you wish to improve… I am going to change this and put a bit of discipline into this!
Shanghaivelo: Any season goals you have?
JP: With TCR for FHL races, this is clear: To win. Together as a team or individually, whatever, but to win. And as much as possible.
For my summer break, I would also love to have fun again in racing in Belgium meaning not having to let the race go on around me but being able to impact it a bit. Would be great to do some Flemish races with Herman again!
Shanghaivelo: Your favourite cyclist?
JP: When I was a kid I have to tell you that my family was in the Roger De Vlaeminck side when Belgium was split between the Merckx-ist and the De Vlaeminck-ist. My parents were quite neutral at early stage, admiring pretty evenly the exploits of both champions until Eddy Merckx was made kind of honorary chairman of the Racing White, a rival football club of our ever supported club. He disqualified instantly from getting any kind of consideration from us!
What a talent this Roger De Vlaeminck! During is first season as junior, he took part to 25 races, amongst them the Belgian Championship. He only finished second to one of them! He is one of the greatest cyclists in history, actually the most talented real classics rider of his generation, but he had to battle Eddy Merckx for supremacy throughout his entire career. He is one of the great professional cyclists also to have claimed the cyclo-cross world championships title. Such ability enabled him to win nearly all classics amongst them Paris-Roubaix four times, still a record, and to defeat Merckx several times in the process, including by the record winning margin in the race.
Once again I am able to find a photo with both great (Hinault on the front with Roger De Vlaeminck - this photo was taken at Paris Roubaix . . . such talent (me not them)
Today, I am happy to follow Philippe Gilbert.
Not only because he comes from my village and is born the same day (not same year!) as me but for his offensive riding style and his sense of attacking right!
Shanghaivelo: Your role model?

JP: Bernard Hinault. What a man!
Hinault in the Yellow Jersey
The last great champion who was able to win the first and the last classic of the season and the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in between. As teenager, I was impressed by his no-bounds courage, his very strong personality and his way of talking direct. A real example for me at that time!
Shanghaivelo: What one pro tour race would you like to do and why?
JP: If only I could...Without hesitation, I say loud and clear the “De Ronde” (de Ronde van Vlaanderen = Tour of Flanders). And yes, I am from the French speaking part of Belgium, so what? This is simply the most beautiful race in the world, no discussion.
2009 Ronde. . . . a picture is worth a thousand words. . .
This race has everything. This is the most epic one! Just imagine to have your name on the starting list of the race having on its winning list names such as Buysse, Van Steenbergen, Schotte, Magni, Impanis, Bobet, Forestier, De Bruyne, Van Looy, Godefroot, De Vlaeminck, Leman, Merckx, Planckaert, Martens, Vanderaerden, Criquielion, Van Der Poel, Van Hooydonck, Museeuw, Bugno, Van Petegem, Tchmil…

If you win this one, you change your status from Mr. Nobody or even from Mr. Champion to the most prestigious “Lion of Flanders” title, which is ranked somewhere next to God!
Shanghaivelo: What motivates you to ride hard?

JP: Strange question…Is it possible to do differently? Joke aside, before I take my bike I like to decide what I am going to do, if this is either to recover or to seriously exercise. There is nothing in between but comfort and this does not make you progressing. Except when on holidays, my free time is rather limited so I do not have time for enjoyable but useless long rides at moderate speed. Now of course, there are multiple ways of riding hard, multiple ways to train one aspect of the race.
Shanghaivelo: What stuff do you do other than ride?
JP: Nothing. I mean no other sport anymore. However, you have to know that after most of the Sunday ride, while you are taking your shower, I have to play the World Cup Final of football against my younger son. He is nearly 8 years old, runs faster and faster and start to have pretty strong and accurate skills. Soon I shall not need to pretend anymore I am losing against him…
Shanghaivelo: Where you work and what you do?
JP: I am the Technical Director for Nestlé Waters in China. My office is located in Jinqiao. I have however to travel which is not helping to reach my fitness peak!
Shanghaivelo: What you like to eat before training?
JP: I am not too picky about that. What I found in the fridge will be my meal. I sometimes go for sweet or even a chocolate bar, telling to myself that anyway I am going to burn these extra calories out soon after.
Shanghaivelo: Your favourite training routine?

JP: A recovery ride with the team and friends the day after a victorious race. Chat ride with heavy sore legs. The yesterday race told, told and re-told. Pure happiness. You know, in Belgium, it is virtually impossible to train without meeting other bunches. Sometimes you can be accompanied with racers you/your team just beat 24hours ago. What a good feeling when they feel the necessity to repeat the race again –but 24h too late!- and you just decide to let them go…
Shanghaivelo: Your favourite place (anywhere on earth) to ride?

JP: To the same question two months ago, I would have replied the Vosges (hills and plains East of France) for the scenery and for the variety of good roads and of course my place in Belgium located at the edge of the low flat land and the Ardenne (the Bulge), the hilly part where Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Flèche Wallonne take place.
But now, I am definitively adding Melbourne where I had the chance to spend Christmas and New Year (with Damian and his family who entertained us like if we would be prince!). The Aussies are so incredibly welcoming and the cycling culture there is really impressive. To ride at Christmas time short sleeves along the bay and to stop for a real Italian coffee is really great! Ready to go back there Down Under anytime!

Victoria seems OK ;). Photo 2007.
Shanghaivelo: Your best book about cycling?
JP: The Rider, by Tim Krabbé. The entire book, only 150 pages is about a one-day French road race during which you can feel the thrill of his emotions and physical sensations of racing his bike! On the top of this, it actually encompasses the entire experience of what means to live the life as a bike racer.
Shanghaivelo: Your shoe size?
JP: 43.5

JP on the front again!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

RACE REPORT: FHL TIME TRIAL DISHUI LAKE

The 'B' Files - by the lovely but cuddly Mr. Zennon Capron! For those of you who don't know, Zennon is not only a catchy name, but also a talented writer (see below), a cyclist, and the man behind Kapron Asia http://www.kapronasia.com

The Race Report from the 25th TT:

Di shui hu roughly translated into English means ‘F*&!ing windy lake.” Anyone who has ridden there knows that any time of the year, in any part of the season, there is a strong headwind that lasts for 7.9km of the 8km loop around the lake followed by a tailwind that last for about 100m. Sunday, the lake lived up to its namesake and there was a bitterly strong headwind that actually caused a Belgian TCR rider to get off his bike and walk it across the finish line muttering about how if it were a wet cobbled road like home his dimpled Zipps, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

The wind kept up as the race started at about 09:30 and the A-category got going. The biennial FHL time-trials are typically the best attended races of the year with closet triathletes and TT-heads coming out of the woodwork to be almost as common as the Euro-pro triathlete-haters that attend the other races throughout the year. This year was no exception with the likes of the undisputed uber-taskmaster of the Shanghai spinning world Jacob Johansen, uber-China Trek boss Todd McKean, and Shanghai uber-triathlon legends Fredrik Croneborg and Tony Orvain all making appearances at the race – and they helped push the top speed – making this year’s race one of the fastest yet and had the old-hands like Allen Lueth panting at the finish line “Damn that was fast…”

The most obvious difference between the A and B categories on Saturday was the equipment. With flashy Treks, Cervelos and Zipps of every depth, the A category was not only a test of strength and grit, but of technological innovation. “Wheels that shave 20s off a 40km TT? I’ll take them.” “Water bottle not aerodynamically placed, forget water – don’t need it.” I’m sure Shanghaivelo will very shortly post a ‘most pimp ride’ award shortly. Was it the Specialized Transition? Todd McKean’s Trek Equinox? Or Edward Cork’s Specialized ‘Test Bike’? Yet ironically, if you looked at the top-10 finishers in Category A, most, while riding different brands, most were quite similarly equipped with at least an TT-specific frame, aerobars, and two deep rim wheels if not a deep front and a disc rear. Yet, the time difference between the top finisher and the 10th, was just over 4 minutes.

Looking at the B category, it was a much more mixed bag with most riders on their road bikes with aerobars and some deep-rim action, but nothing to the extent of category A, yet the difference between the 1st place and 10th place riders was only 3 minutes – indeed only 12s separated the top-4. Had I known the difference would’ve been so slight, I would have begged/borrowed/stole my own set of ‘minus 20 second over 40km’ Zipps, which would’ve catapulted me into first with a few seconds to spare. So, the moral of the story?

1. Never buy Zipps so at least you have an excuse

or

2. Buy them, but make sure they’re last season’s, so at least you have an excuse.

The course itself, despite the wind, was quite nice. Almost a near perfect 8km with very little traffic and a good road surface, there were few flaws that one could point to besides the wind. The local police and security kept most of the cars, but not the wind, off the course which made it easier for riders to focus on catching the rider in front of them rather than avoiding cars. As mentioned, the B-race was tight and windy, but due to seeding, it was a bit difficult to tell who the competition was as many of the top-finishers went off in the beginning and some at the end – riders seemed to be seeded in general by team. This was unlike the A-race (also windy), where riders were seeded based on quite a complex and effective system designed by the organizers which more or less had the fastest rider going last. The wind also seemed to pick up during the B-race, but it was difficult to tell as it always seems less windy at the start line.

The finish line was about 500m before the starting line and, you guessed it, the last 1km coming to the finish was some of the most punishing wind on the course. As one rider stated before the race, “push harder until you go cross-eyed, then you can back-off a bit,” – well if it were going to happen, it would’ve been at the finish – directly into the wind.

A-results were released about an hour after the race and B-results yesterday. B saw the boys from Panaracer dominating the top spots with a few MaxSH, Specialized and Proair’s filling out the top-10.

Kapronasia

Suite 304, 500, South Xiangyang Lu
Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China 200031
Office:
cid:image001.png@01C9A4CE.708D81B0+86 21 64664229 ext 809
Mobile: +86 138 1789 6332
http://www.kapronasia.com

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

DOPPIO ESPRESSO - SV Does Bergamo, Tuscany. . .


It has been a little while since the last post – I can explain. As a wedding present, my now ‘almost wife’ got me an amazing present – 8 days in Tuscany! We stayed on an organic biological olive oil farm (extremely cool – have a look at www.agrifuturismo.com but make sure the volume is DOWN on your computer should you be viewing this page at work).


After our last few posts when we were in Milan. We then went to Bergamo. I must admit a very strong liking for Bergamo. Not only because I was able to ride part of the Giro course from 2007 – right at the spot where Gilberto Simoni attacked near the finish, only to be caught by a flying Stefano Garzelli (one of my all time personal favourites) only to complain that Garzelli had used the moto to catch him and win the sprint. See video:


video

video


Do not try this at home kids. . .


But also because of the wonderful hospitality of our hosts at L'angolo del poeta (Poets Corner? This may show my soft spot for Robbie Burns. . .) http://www.http://www.angolodelpoeta.com/ Certainly one to see for great riding, excellent topography, some pretty good bike shops and brilliant food.


This guy finished his training and went straight in for a small cake and espresso . . heaven! Please note impeccable bike choice. . .


Our 'place' in Bergamo. . .


Before we arrived at Tuscany (we stayed between Firenze and Sienna for you Geography buffs out there) we went to La Spezia for a few days. I will credit Andrew Hay with the ‘first to recognize the home of Alessandro Petacchi” award. Yes, La Spezia is where he grew up, and if you were to visit La Spezia you would know why he is such a great sprinter – he was in a hurry to get the hell out of there. Once out of the city centre however was when the riding became brilliant. La Spezia is surrounded by oceans and mountains. Have a look at these pictures (as usual - click to enlarge)!


I took in a long climb to get you this photo. . .


We stayed at the Jolly hotel right on the water, and while a bit on the pricey side, it was certainly an advantageous spot for riding.


dodgy picture from Hotel room window. . .


Amazing riding here and I really enjoyed myself - I would strongly suggest it for a cycling specific vacation spot but little else. . . . .anyone from La Spezia out there? Should you bring your cycling spouse there is also the option of seeing La Cinque Terre (also outlined by Andrew. . .).


More to come soon - now get back to work. . . SV

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

MATT FILE: Training races are for mistakes?

Matt: Second row - red jacket

Training races are for making mistakes right? Well I’ve now done 4 of them in Vancouver over two weekends and made a bunch of mistakes, almost all of which I really should know better then. They run the full gauntlet from eating at the wrong time (a little too late and timed almost perfectly with a fairly harsh acceleration on a hill, resulting in me getting gapped), remembering to think I should pack warm gloves while packing (without actually packing them and then racing in cold rain) to watching the race making break form from the second row of the peleton and thinking it would come back or getting bored in the opening K at piano pace and making the first attack (really just rolled off the front on a climb and set a steady pace but it probably wasn’t the smartest move). All the above being said I did actually manage to finish one in the group, and truth be told it’s early and I’m really none too worried about it.

Anyways, real racing arrives this weekend in the form of the Tour of Walla Walla, which is 4 stages over three days. Not feeling super confident about my form just yet, as last weekend was spent in bed riding out a cold instead of out on the bike, but a couple of people on the team are going pretty well so I’m hoping for the best.

I will let you know how the weekend goes. On a side note, this will actually be my first time racing in the states, so I’m a little curious myself to see how it goes.

Matthew O’Hagan

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Doppio Espresso - Image Gallery Milan

Gothic architecture at its finest at Il Duomo. .

Fresh rasperries from the market down the street from our hotel - offered up to us in a crisp brown paper bag to trap the freshness!

Extremely cool street art down an alleyway . . . .

Il Duomo. . . .

Pigeons near the church.

The FIAT Panda - a classic

See you tomorrow. . . the bike has arrived. . .

TREK Marco Polo Update!

COURTESY OF CYCLINGNEWS.COM

The Trek – Marco Polo Cycling Team is getting set to embark on a long Asian Tour after finding success in South Africa in the early season. The team's upcoming Asian program starts with the Tour of Thailand (April 4-9) followed by a training camp in Thailand before ending the month at the Jelajah Tour of Malaysia (April 19-26) and Tour of Singkarak in Indonesia (April 30 – May 3).

The vision of the Marco Polo team is to combine western and Asian riders and staff to learn from each other and bring the Asian talents to the highest level of cycling. The team in Asia will be led by Kwanchai Nualchanchy from Thailand and Rob Conijn from the Netherlands.

European riders Eric van der Meent (Netherlands) and James Spragg (Great Britain) will join Xing Yan Dong from China, Genta Nakamura from Japan, Ahmed Haidar Anuawar who makes his debut in the team and Loh Sea Keong from Malaysia

More information about the Trek – Marco Polo Cycling Team: www.marcopolocyclingteam.com

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Doppio Espresso - SV Does Milan DAY 2!

We finally arrived at our hotel - what a relief! The only issue is I am missing one large piece of luggage - MY BIKE! I have done my legal research now and based on the Montreal Convention, even if Lufthansa did lose my bike they would only be liable to pay me around EUR 1,100 - HELP! That bike has carbon Campy on it and a lot of 'chi-chi's! Any lawyers out there willing to help me. . . . . ? There wasn't much point in getting upset. I'm in Milan! Alex and I travel quite a lot, and quite well together. Usually our first day in a new city is filled with 'the walk'. Quite simply, we just put our shoes on and walk. There is no plan, no destination, we simply aim to get a feel for the city. First impressions of Milan are brilliant - beautiful people. Alex commented that it seems like the milanese men are more beautiful than the women! (Note to self: do not take future wife to a city where she makes comments like this. . . ). As we have started to explore you start to notice what makes this city so special. There is a surprising mix of architecture that puts modernism beside Renaissance beauty, and Rococo beside art nouveau. One thing we have already fallen in love with is dropping by a bar in the late afternoon and discovering a spread of beautiful snacks laid out - all you have to do is order a drink (or 2) and you eat for free! Similar to Shanghai, the beauty in Milan comes from taking a detour past the designer shops and chic boutiques and having a look at the beautiful green courtyards hidden behind the buildings. There are many surpises inside the churches, museums and cemeteries.
The beautiful tiny details of Milan seen here under the soffits of a local home

The Duomo - Italy's throw down to the gothic!

So! To get back on track - what do you do on your first proper day in Milan - GET A HAIR CUT! O.K. so I'm sure there were other ideas, but I went straight for a Milanese barber.
In Milan appearance is key, so I wanted to tidy up. As well, you don't want to have a bad haircut on the podium . . .
I would like to introduce everyone to Mr. Tommaso Gagliardi! The man, the legend. . .

I couldn't resist the barber with the painted picture of the Venus de Milo on his sign. The shop was called Acconciature Maschili - Pulizia Viso -. Now I speak NO italian so we had to make do with French - I think this means "Mens Hair - Face Shave or Clean Face" and this is exactly what Tommaso gave me! We discussed that because I am too skinny that I needed a specific type of hair cut! He also explained that he had studied in Rome under a master coiffeur many years ago. The man was a legend - and lets be honest I still have 3.5 weeks until my wedding - I can stand a bit of a risk. When Tomasso finished he explained that the spiky look was very 'moderne' and that all the men right now are wearing it forward which was a terrible mistake. . .I should keep the spikes! Ok, I haven't worn my hair in spikes since I was 6, but Tomasso is a proper professional! From here we said Arrivaderci! And walked to one of Milan most famous spots:
The Galleria - one of the most famous shopping centres in Europe - check the dome!!

Here you can see the most recent and cutting edge fashion for some of the worlds top fashion brands. . . . . . .

Prada. . .
LV. . .
Macca's. . . . . wait a minute. . ?

But 'wait' you say! What about caffeine?



. . . . How about an espresso at GUCCI? (It was EUR 3.50. . .) the lovely Mrs. SV!

Ciao!