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, August 08, 2005

"We Are Here"

Yes, we are here in Bella Italia...firmly ensconsed now for over two weeks in Castelcucco. As our host at the Hotel Montegrappa, Luca, says..."if you need something...we are here."

We've had a great first two weeks. All our prep getting the team van set up and the team jerseys and shorts went flawlessly, so Cindy and I had a couple of days to get some riding and resting in before the first riders came on July 25. Since then we've had 3 riders with us.

We also had a 12 yr. old girl who lives here with her father who is in the US Air Force. She was a wonderful young lady to spend some time with. Cindy did three "private" training rides with her (including a new Velo Veneto record for "Esordienti" on the first 11k of the Montegrappa) and she hopes to spend time with us next year and bring some more friends. Maybe we'll have a special 3-4 day stretch just for her and her friends. Annelise also shared some of the photos they've taken at the big races they've seen across Europe. In Boca a Lupo ... Annelise !!!

We've done 4 races so far. In the first on Saturday, 30 July, it was as hot as an oven and humid to boot. Cindy was the only one of the five of us to finish, and of course she won! The next day we were racing near Belluno at the base of the Dolomites and with the morning start times the temperature was a bit kinder. Paul had a puncture and abandoned, I got dropped on the climb during the second lap but finished 18th, Tom got caught behind a crash and couldn't regain the front peloton and eventually abandoned while Garrett was surprised that despite losing the main, but shattering peloton, he hung in, finished and was 8th place in the Cadetti group.

During the following week we took everybody up to the Dolomites on Tuesday and rode 70k over the Passo Cereda and Passo Duran to Zoldo Alto...the stage of the Giro that Paolo Salvodelli won back in May for the Discovery Channel team on his way to the Maglia Rosa. The course was epic and Paul stated that it was the best riding he's ever done. Quite a statement from a guy who's ridden in the Pyrenees and Fresh Alps including many of the famous Tour de France climbs. See what you're missing?

We've also had plenty of good training closer to home in the Treviso province including motor pacing to get the leg speed for racing here at 45-50k an hour.

This past weekend was the perfect ending to our second week with ideal racing weather on Saturday in Bolzano Vicentino near Vicenza. Cindy won her 3rd race so far ( and finished with the breakaway group of Super Gentleman, taking 5th across the line!) while Paul was very active at the front of our Veterani race. Tom and I rode near the front but like Paul didn't take part in the "hargey bargey" going on in the final sprint and come across the line safely mid pack. Garrett, only 20 yrs old, and still new to racing at this level, had great improvement and rode strongly until the last 5k when his attack was a bit much and he trailed the field to the line. But Garrett definitely gets the most improved rider award at the camp thus far. Unfortunately, he must return home a week early to be with an ill family member. Next year Garrett !!! (And good luck racing at the Univ. of Colorado next season...)

Yesterday, the weather was not too kind. Cindy was fortunate to have dry weather for the first 50 k of her race, but the clouds came in an opened up on the corriedori for the last 10k. Cindy still managed to win, but had one other women right on her heals across the line. Il Lupo (the wolf...Paul) forgot his license so just sat at the back of the field for a workout then pulled off with a couple of k to go. Tom had a nice finish racing in the worst conditions of the day and Garrett "made a tactical blunder" by his own admission and had to abandon half way through the race. It's been so much fun to see this young guy gain some fitness, confidence and experience the last couple of weeks. He is a Cat. 3 at home in the US and racing here with guys older and stronger than he is like racing with Cat. 1's at home. I know he's looking forward to taking what he's learned and move his racing career to a new level back home.

I have to tell one funny Garrett story though...sorry to pick on you there "Bufalo" ... the day he arrived, he had a cleat problem so we rode to the bike shop in Castelfranco. Garrett rides Northwave shoes and Shimano typical Italian style, the shop owner just shook his head and made it known he though Garret had the wrong equipment...that he Northwave was "kaput" and he should have Campy or Look pedals. Garrett got a big kick out of that. He and Tom both seemed to love the folks at Cavalera and they are seriously thinking about ordering custom frames for next year, especially Tom (and yours truly!!!).

Ok, enough for now. We'll be training hard this week and racing next weekend in the Giro di Vicenza in preperation for Masters Worlds the last week of August.

Auguri !