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.

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!


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