Velo Veneto - Ciclismo Italiano !

Stories from the Velo Veneto bike racing camp in Castelcucco, Italy

Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I'm a 50 year old kid who loves to race bikes. I operate a bike racing camp in Northern Italy. When not in Italy I have the good fortune of living in one of the best places to ride, the Northern California Wine Country.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Canadian Invasion !

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year here in the Wine Country. The wild flowers are blooming and the grape vines will awake from their winter nap in March. But one of the easiest ways to tell that Spring is on the way is when riders from the Great White North hit town! I'm speaking more specifically of our frineds from Canada who ride for the Victory Brewing women's pro team. Many of them were teammates of Cindy's when she rode from the old women's team in 2000-2001. Gina and Amy hit town recently and in the next week or so the rest of the squad will be in town. They use Santa Rosa as a home base for the US National Calendar races here in California. I also saw World MTB Champ Roland Green out training with Levi Leipheimer the other day.

Preparations for our camp in Italy are progressing well. We placed advertisements on the SoCal website and the SportsBaseOnline site.

I had a nice chat on the phone today with Luca, the manager of our hotel in Castelcucco. His English is coming along and my Italian is progressing as well.

If you really want to get a good flavor of the cycling culture in our Veneto region check out the BiciVeneto site. The creator of this site was a guest at the camp years ago and loved it so much that she stayed in Italy and got married to a local!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Forced break?

What, being forced to take a break from training and racing already? Yep, that's what a bad saddle sore and falling arches will do to you. We missed the races in Fresno last weekend, the Pine Flat road race and Dinuba criterium because I developed a saddle sore near the end of a ride that was so uncomfortable I was even having to be careful sitting in a chair. No need to go in to much detail, but that forced a few days off the bike, so our trip was cancelled. Then over the weekend my foot started hurting in the ball of the foot below the big toe. One of Cindy's teammates is a sports med Doctor and he thought that I might have an arch problem...probably because I don't wear proper shoes around the house. A trip to the running shoe store for some over the counter orthotics seems to have relieved that problem...but no flip flops for me anytime soon.

So the next races will be the weekend of Feb. 26-27 in Merced.

Monday, February 07, 2005

A New Season

It was another beautiful day in Nor Cal as we embarked on our 11th season of bike racing. As we drove through the Valley of the Moon and looked out at the vineyards and lush green hills, Cindy and I thought back to our first race in March 1995. It seems like only yesterday and now here we were ready to start another year and our fifth season since moving to California.

The Sunday, Feb. 6 event was the traditional season opener...the 28th Annual Cherry Pie Criterium in Napa. The course is a L shaped route of about 1 mile with a 300 meter climb to the finish every lap. Because my main priority this year is to run our Velo Veneto camp to the best of my ability, my motivation for early season racing is a bit lower than usual. I know I will have plenty of opportunity to race in Italy from May until September, so I enter these Spring races in California very relaxed...and that feels pretty good, no pressure. I know the legs are pretty good for this time of year and I feel lighter without the burden of self imposed pressure.

The masters 45+ field was reasonably big, probably 60 starters or so. Curiously I felt no first race jitters as far as riding in the pack for the first time since last season. Midway through the 40 minute race they rang the bell for a prime and shortly after the lap began the pack seemed complacent so I rolled up the right side of the road and increased the tempo. Nobody went with me so I increased the pace without visibly attacking and again no I put the hammer down. Now it was a 1k time trial to the finish line. It was a breezy day so it didn't take long to get up close to redline at 28 mph. I looked under my arm a couple of times and it looked like I had about a 100 meter gap...but then somebody was trying to come across to me shortly before hitting the climb to the finish. I relaxed so as to save something for the climb then hit it hard and he faded from view again. Knowing I had the $15 safely in my back pocket I actually coasted across the line and the officials wondered if I was a lapped rider, or the prime winner. I made sure there was no mistake.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful as the strong teams (I was the only Velo Veneto rider there!) kept things together then started the leadout at a lap and a half to go. I felt that the position I held at the front for the sprint was as good as I've ever been able to do...the only problem was that after coming around the final corner to start the sprint in the top 6, I immediately started going backwards as the sprinters lit it up!!! I had no sprint legs and was floundering in about 15th until I picked off a few guys blowing up before the line and came across in 12th. It was fun to get things going again.

For Cindy, she went one better than last year's placing...she WON !!! Last year she was in a two up break with Kathryn Curi of Team Rona. This year Cindy, Kathryn and a few others did their best to try and get a break away, but weren't successful. After seeing me flash my cash at her following my race, Cindy said she was going prime hunting too!!! She finished second to Kathryn in both primes...but in the end she got the most important thing...The Victory! Check out the photo here. That was pretty exciting. I am so proud of my wife. At the age of 41 she is stronger than ever and on her day she can beat the top women in Northern California, arguably one of the strongest regions in the country for women's racing.

So we're off and running. We'll have a busy next three months, racing almost every weekend until we leave for Italy on May 9. Stay tuned...Ciao!