1

There's a fierce cold wind blowing through LA today. Riding against it this morning reminded me of a similar day crossing the Apennines on my last Italy tour. I made a bad decision on a rainy day, based on something I thought I'd remembered reading about Aquilonia.

They say when your blood sugar is low, the first thing to suffer is your judgment.

Anyway, I wound up arriving in Aquilonia in the dark, cold and exhausted and a little bit disoriented after a wet day fighting the wind. But Aquilonia turned out to be possibly the most hospitable town in the world. That's another story, but here's the point I'm getting at.

Italy bike tour Appia hills Aquilonia

There's a shield in the Pro Loca headquarters of Aquilonia that shows a warrior holding his hand in the fire and the words "Aut vincit aut morem." Victory or death.

The story is that Aquilonia was Samnite territory, and the site of the Samnites' last stand against the Romans. They put their hands in the fire and made the oath to defeat the Romans or die in battle. They were killed almost to a man, but today their descendants live on in fierce defiance.

"We are not Italians," some of the locals told me. "We are Samnites."

"Do or die" can sometimes turn out to be both, it seems. Like in our case, for example.

My 2009 trip through Italy will be in the fall, not the usual springtime bike tour. But I'd like to tour the Via Appia by bike in the spring of 2009, as originally planned, if you can help to make it happen.

If I can get 10 people to agree on a time to go, I can get us group discounts on plane tickets and a lot of our food and lodging. I'll help you get your bike in the plane, or buy one in Italy, as I plan to do.

You may have some economic reasons not to do this trip just now, but here's something to consider.

First, unless you're really losing your home or applying for food stamps, a lot of the doom and gloom is self-fulfilling. This is going to be an inspiring journey that will change your life forever. You'll come back with a sense of renewal, the fire back in your eyes, and the strength and spirit to do whatever it takes to prosper in your business or your career.

This is a vacation, but it's also an investment. It's worth at least as much as a personal trainer or a life coach. It will cost much less, and give you bragging rights to boot.

Do whatever it takes to make this happen. It will be a victory over the pessimism that's ruining our economy, a conquest of the fears and self-doubts that are holding you back from living the life you want. If this kind of travel is part of your dreams as much as it's a part of mine, you have to do it or a small part of your spirit will die inside.

Victory or death. You don't have to be a Samnite to know what's at stake here. Ten of us are going to have a blast! I hope you're part of the team. Send an email to jacob "at" bicyclefreedom.com to get more info about this journey.

Big thumbs up to Matthew Segal for an in depth feature on the LA bike culture. I won't feel like a lone rider in a sea of automobiles for at least a few days now. It almost makes me want to do the next Midnight Ridazz.