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.

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


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