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, September 11, 2007

Marmolada, et guest blogger!

the view from Passo Valles

Good afternoon gents! Well, I just finished my second long ride in the Dolomites. We did Passo Rolle, Passo Valles, and the Marmolada. The ride was 94K with a total 3100m+ (over 10,000ft) of climbing. Jack and I went for the time record up Passo Rolle. The record is 1 hour and 3 minutes. Jack and I both did the ride in around 1 hour and 10 minutes. The conditions were not ideal. It was very windy and it was constantly in your face. The climb is between 5 to 10% grade the whole way up. Jack managed to wreck himself while trying to zip up his jersey or his time would have been faster. I on the other hand threw my chain twice. If we haven't had problems and had some better weather we would have been much closer to the record. Pat indicated that he thought the headwind really impacted our times. The temperature also affect us. We were both cold even though we were riding hard. I really couldn't ride at threshold, which is an indicator that my legs are dead. The descent is fast and beautiful but not too long. The ride up to Passo Valles is not all that difficult. The climb is only about 7.5k long. It is a good break for the climb up the Marmolada. You have a very long descent off of the Passo Valles back to Alleghe for the start of the climb to Marmolada. The actual Maramolada climb is up to Passo Fedaia. The climb starts at the little town of Caprile and is 14k long. The start of the climb is not too bad but does have some kickers. The last 6k up the Marmolada is painful. There is an extended section that is over 15% grade that is at least 1k long. About 3k from the top you finally get some temporary relief with a few switchbacks, but each switchback is at 15% grade. There are actually signs that tell you the grade. The views from the top are incredible. There is a lake at the top that provides some incredible views and was good for a photo stop. We are now headed back to Castelcucco for some rest before dinner. And our hotel proprietors are fixing a Veneto specialty...rice and peas (Risi e pisi)

I do not have high expectations for the TT (back home in Tennessee...ed.) this weekend since I have riden well over 430 miles and 30 hours since last Monday.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Soave Tim V.

Good morning gents!I did my first Italian race this morning. It was like nothing you can imagine. We started in a littlle town of Soave in the Verona province. The town is ancient and is enclosed in a stone wall. All of the racers start at the same time. We had about 150 riders show up for the race, based on the size of the crowds and the use of sequential numbers. We started the race by first riding in and around the town to the applause of the locals. People outside the cafes and coffee shops cheer you on as you ride through town; this parade was made interesting by seeing how many riders could jam their way through the narrow entrances in the stone wall. . The real race begins as you leave the walled city. The pace quickens instantly. We went from riding along at 15 mph to about 33 mph. I was wondering who the hell was on the front of the pack. The pack is frantic as you jam down the roads following the lead car and motorcycles. You get the whole road as you ride and cars are forced to the side of the road. Note that this is an easy way to go from the front to the back of the pack. If you aren't real careful you will have to hit the brakes to avoid the car on the side of the road and the pack will go by you. I observed this happen and later had it to me as we went through the narrow streets of a little village. This put me too far back. I basicaly TT'd with some guys on my wheel, but they would not work and just stayed back. I would have done the same thing if I were them. At one point, I was riding beside a guy that looked to be around 60 years old on a 5K climb and he paced me back close to the lead pack. This is where I got seriously dropped. The roads are wide enough for one car and maybe your bilke in places. The 60 year old guy descended like il Falco. He was passing people everywhere. I on the otherhand was getting passed all down the descent. I would catch people on the climbs and get passed like I was sitting still on the descents. You wouldn't believe how fast these guys take blind curves. When we got down the final descent I was quite a ways back of the large lead pack. I went into TT mode with an Italian guy on my wheel. We worked together for the last 15 miles hovering around 24 mph on a relatively flat section. At the 1K line he told me to go ahead using a hand gesture, since I spent more time pulling than he did. We ended the race together coming through a large Arrivo banner with the castle as a backdrop. This race was as hard as any on the TBRA calendar and required more handling skills than I have ever needed. The madness of the pack at the start is worse than any crit race that I have done. The Italians will put their bikes through spots and ride within inches of cars coming directly at them. I wished I had their confidence on the bike. The training that we have done this week in the mountains affected my power, but I still wouldn't replace the mountain rides for a win in any race. The races are just the cherry on top of the Sundae, delicious and desired but by no means the best part of the Italian riding dish. Tomorrow will be a recovery day and on Tuesday we head for another 3 pass climb in the Dolomites. This is one camp that I think all of you would enjoy. I will be putting some pictures up on the web when I get home to try to entice all of you to do a training camp over here with me next year. Ciao,Tim

Friday, September 07, 2007

Guest blogger....Dolomiti

Guest blogger....Tim V. from Knoxville, TN...these are his comments sent via Blackberry to his friends back home.

Good afternoon gents. Another day of riding in Italy that cannot be described by words of mere mortals. We did the following three climbs that were in the Giro d'Italia in 2007: Passo Giau, Passo Tre Croci, and Tre Cime Lavaredo. Total climbing today was about 3000m (10,000 ft) in about 48 miles. Brutal to say the least. I rode well up the climb to passo Giau. I was the first to the top by a few minutes. The climb was great. It was 9.5K of climbing at threshold. The views from the top are what make this climb so phenomenal. The mountain tops are gagged rocks protruding from snow covered base. Majestic spires rising above the rounded domes of the Dolomiti break the skyline and make you feel like you are in another world. The descent off of Giau is wicked fast. I am getting better at descending, but I did have a wreck. A guy was coming up the mountain and was partially in my lane. I had to cut the curve tight to avoid him and laid the bike down. It hurt like hell. I also ripped my Assos bibs. Thanks to Marzolf I have another pair. The guy did ask, in Italian, OK? I was pissed for wrecking, but I don't think it could be avoided since he was riding in the center of a narrow road. A German couple behind asked if I was OK. I lost one of my Edgar Soto water bottles because I didn't realize it was gone. This will necessitate the purchase of another one from a local shop. The climb up Passo Tre Croci was not too bad. Jack and I crossed about the same time. We then descended down to Misurina to get to the base of the climb up Tre Cime Lavaredo. Tre Cime Lavaredo is the hardest climb I have done. My right shoulder was killing me from the fall. The 4K main climb had an average grade of 15 to 18%. Did I say that it was the hardest climb that I have ever done. My shoulder was really causing me pain. I could really not pull on the bars too hard. In fact my lever is a little loose and I had to climb in the drops at times. Jack was the first at the top by a couple of minutes and climbed well. We kept about 200 m within each other. A hard day on the bike, but this was the best riding I have ever done. The group is great and the SAG support is spectacular. Pat really knows how to pick the rides and was leapfrogging us to keep us supplied and providing us cold gear when we needed. I repeat, riding in the Dolomites is the best riding that I have done. The group gets along very well and looks out for each other. All of you would enjoy the riding immensely. More news later. Now we are heading back and I am going to the pharmacy to get some things to heal my wounds and some ibuprofen for my shoulder. Right now I can hardly lift it. Ciao,Tim

and from guest blogger....Heather Mac...

Here is the report I sent, sorry it is late :-). The trip has been truly epic - far more than I ever expected. I can't thank you enough.

Italy is perfect!!Today we ventured out of Castelcucco up north to retrace the last three climbs from one of the hardest mountain stages of the Giro!!Starting in Agordo we meandered through one of those picturest valleys I have ever seen - like a post card you thought had been doctored.... We eventually started our climb up to Passo di Giau - top elevation 2232 meters. This first climb was over 5000 feet with an average grade of 12 percent. We then headed down into Cortina - the decent was epic, the roads are simply butter over here! After a brief pass through the perfect town we start the next ascent up to Passo di Croci (1805 meters), with approximately 12 percent grade. A very short downhill before we hit the real climb up to Tre Cima di Lavaredo (2320 meters). Average grade 15-18 percent - oh my god!! Thank god the views are amazing - these mountains are on steriods, we feel like we are in the land of the giants.Total ride distance: 48 milesTotal time in saddle: 5 hoursTotal elevation gain: 10,000 feet!!!!There are 4 of us here along with Pat our camp leader. A couple from upstate new york who both race cat 4 and one guy from Tennessee also a cat 4. The two guys are equally matched and Susanna and I are exactly the same pace - plus she and I can head out for shopping excursions :-)Today we will ride a simple flat 2 hours to Castelfranco for coffee and back!!Life if good!!:-) mac