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Diary from the #IJ2023 – Day 6

Tuesday 10th October – 2nd day of our navigational event and we turned the heat up a few degrees.

As if we needed any more heat in the daily searing temperatures (yesterday topped 31º) we added more yesterday by complicating the start with a head scratcher of a special stage. In its simplest form it meant teams started a special stage ten seconds before a time control. In more difficult terms it meant factoring in a 10 second special stage before the TC. So, if TC 1 was 08.30:00 you needed to cross a timing tube at 08.29:50 in order to 10 seconds later cross the second timing tube at 08.30:00…… Geddit? No? Neither did a few teams.

We’re at a point in proceedings where we’re hearing things like ‘yeah, we’re just here to enjoy it and not taking the navigational event seriously’… which as any fool knows translates to ‘no way did I cross that line 0.03 seconds after my time’

Teams trundled off from the Molino Rosso towards Modena and almost instantly found themselves in an M25 like volume of traffic. Further into the stage we encountered the one thing that makes us (as organisers) shrug our shoulders and say ‘oh bollocks’ (for clarity Giulia never does)…. aka: a closed road. This means teams would need to think fast, deviate from the route, find a way around, pick up the roadbook again and then follow the indications but now with little relevance to the partial/total distances shown in the road book. I think a few suspected we closed this road on purpose just to add some drama to proceedings but of course we didn’t…. (It’s not a bad idea though).

Our destination was the awesome Azienda Agricola – Tenuta del Cigno famed throughout the world as home of Acetaia malpighi. These guys are veritable masters in the art (for an art form it truly is) in the production of Modena’s black gold… Aceto Balsamico (to give it it’s scientific name).

We tasted a range of delicious vinegars (I know what you’re thinking but I promise you they were honestly delicious) and we learned about the history of Balsamic Vinegar production from the very chic Monica of Malpighi. Her English was excellent and she later translated some warm words of welcome from the current head of the Malpighi Family and production guru (for family secrets have been passed down to him) who was lingering and clearly excited to tell us all about his family’s centuries old love affair with the ‘black stuff’.

The tasting of vinegars whetted our appetites and just as well because shortly after a huge and very colourful buffet was served and we all tucked in forming (as only Brits do) an orderly queue. The Canadian division followed suit and soon full plates became empty and bellies became full. Then an incredible thing happened. More food appeared! A delicious risotto which had been ‘brewed’ in a carved out Parmesan Wheel was carried out. So big was it that two fella’s were needed to carry it out (neither fella was as ripped as Anthony in team 09 to be fair) but it looked heavy enough. So out of resect for this culinary spectacle (and delicate carrying demonstration) we ate more and filled our bellies more. Just when we didn’t think we could take any more, dessert arrived and of course we couldn’t ignore it so we ate that too. (It was at this point that Giulia considered calling our hotel and reducing our four course dinner to ‘just a plate of chips please’).

A very dusty special stage saw teams leave and head off to Modena for an afternoon of relaxation and I suspect digestion.

We briefed teams about the route tomorrow before dinner and then when dinner arrived, it really was a sight to be hold as more food was about to be consumed. The pudding was a favourite of mine (which I always insist we have on at least one menu)… Zuppa Inglese (English Soup). It’s properly stodgy and not particularly tasty but I like it.

Disco dancing and kairoke followed dinner and Trina did a marvellous job in persuading other jobbers to join her on the dance floor (when I say persuaded I mean she yanked them by the arm until gravity forced them out from their chairs). It was a fun night and yet another opportunity to shake our bellies up to accelearate the digestive process.

Notable mentions today: All the teams for embracing the day with huge smiles and bringing so much fun despite the minor challenge of a road closure. Richard and Gari (Buttle Uk) and Graham Biggs from BMW group left to return to work but they’ve remained on the WhatsApp Group so they’re still with us in spirit.

Wednesday we head south in to Romagna and we’ve got some fun and twisty roads waiting for us. I think we might also have some food later too!


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