Wednesday 18 July 2007

11th Gran Fondo Pinarello - Part 2

Our first climb of the day was Colle di Guardia - nothing too difficult. It lasted about a mile and a half, but was a bit of a tester on legs which had been speeding along the plain. Even on such a modest climb 27km into the ride, a selection began to take place. Some of my fellow cyclists slowed right down, while others, who had clearly started in one of the later grids powered past us on the big ring.

I took it easy, knowing that the coming climbs would be much more challenging. The climb up Zuel di La followed shortly after. This was a little longer than the first climb, but only around 5%. The road was still a little crowded at this point and I took care to hold my line on the descent. A man from a local bike club kept shouting at me. All I picked up was "Sotto Roda, sotto roda" and "la fatica" as he rode past me - he then pushed me closer to the rider in front. I wasn't familiar with the Italian cycling terminology, but I understood what he wanted me to do. Gee, thanks for the training tip !

After around 40km the long and the short course split - most people turned left to follow the long course. Immediately afterwards came the first significant climb of the day - the Passo San Boldo. This 5 mile climb had a very regular gradient of about 7%. The climb wasn't difficult, but I was beginning to feel the heat as sweat rolled down my face. I kept my out of the saddle efforts to the shaded areas so I could spin gently while out in the blazing sun. This system seemed to work for me.

The last couple of miles became steeper, and the zig zags became sharper. I noted how the left hand zigs were steeper and longer, while the right hand zags were flatter, and felt breezier. Another place to recover and cool down a little. All the chatting stopped along this road, as riders fought their own personal battles.

Near the top, the road surface became rough as the tarmac had not been re-surfaced, and we went through a series of tunnels. When re-emerging from the tunnels we were treated to some spectacular views of the rocky escarpements behind us, and the army of cyclists snaking up the zig zags below us.

Finally the road levelled off and a mini inflated gantry marked the end of our challenge. As we rounded the corner we saw the crowds ahead, meaning the food stop was close by. Given the extreme heat I'd decided that today I would be stopping at every feed station, and the aim would be to get round comfortably without any sun-stroke or dehydration incidents. Any hopes of impressive times would therefore go out of the window. I was ok with that.

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