Sunday 29 April 2007

7th Giro Ciclistico della Penisola Sorrentina e Costiera Amalfitana - Part 2

Sunday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. It was reassuring to see that daylight had already broken at 6am, and even more heartening to see the sunshine.
This made me feel energized for the task ahead.

I got ready relatively quickly and was soon riding out of the apartment courtyard. I could still feel yesterday's pasta inside me so hadn't really felt ready for a big breakfast. Still, I'd loaded myself with gels and energy bars, and the emergency jelly babies (Haribo) so I wouldn't go hungry. I always find these sugary sweets to be a great help if you suddenly get the hunger knock.

The ride up to Sant'Agata sui due Golfi was not as difficult as I'd imagined it would be. There's no doubt that a couple of the switchbacks were quite steep - 15% gradient. However, with my 50-34 compact chain set and 12-27 cassette I could just steadily spin my way up.

It was really pleasant riding up on very quiet roads before everyone was up.
After around 45 minutes I arrive at the race HQ. In contrast to yesterday, where the main road was full of traffic, this time it was awash with cyclists in all brightly coloured kit and nicely polished bicycles. That is certainly a recurring theme in Italian cycling. The Italians are very stylish on the bike. Every detail has been attended to. Not a single mark or blemish on the bike. Everything is glistening new. Legs and arms are well moisturized, hands manicured, hair laquered, and that's just the men ! The women wear make-up and nail varnish ! My mascara wouldn't last 2 minutes if I put that on while cycling.

After the obligatory trip to the loo and passing over the timing mat, we were all set to start. There was no particular fan fare as such - just a bloke on the tannoy shouting to us that we would be starting shortly. But given that he'd been saying that for the last 15 minutes no one paid much attention. Some were still sitting in the cafe ! Other people were actually registering. And this, after the organiser had said no entry on the day. People are just so laid back in round here !

Finally, without any warning we were away. The beginning of the ride was quite jittery. The road out of Sant'Agata sui due Golfi descended quite rapidly, and it was very bumpy due to it's poor condition. A couple of people fell down, and almost brought others down with them. I managed to stay out of trouble, but my chances of doing well went went downhill as rapidly as my bike. I suddenly noticed that my handlebars had loosened and the bars had moved down - brought on as a result of the impact of the bumps and pot-holes in the road.
As I stopped to adjust the handlebars everyone went past me - the peloton, the motorbike outriders, the ambulance, the broomwagon - everyone. And given the road was going to be going rapidly downhill for the next five miles I was not likely to see them until the end of the event ! I realised that I was going to be in for a long lonely ride - bloody hell!!

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