I just got back from Italy late last night after 22 hours of traveling and so am a little whooped but of course I can't sleep because of this wonderful jet lag phenomenon. I had a great trip a got a little taste of life and racing in Italy. For now, I will post pics from the 2nd part of the trip in Treviso. I will post the Tuscan pics later.
Race report: After taking part in the Granfondo Pinarello, I will no longer refer to it as a 'race' with quotes. It is most definitely a full on RACE! Those Italians are a very proud people and they don't give an inch so you can imagine what it was like at the start with 3000 other people battling for position. Luckily I was able to sneak up to the front before the start, though I wasn't seeded so technically I was supposed to start in about 1000th place (thanks Joao). The race was 200k with 9400ft of climbing with the majority of that packed in the middle w/ 3 consecutive climbs. It was very dynamic and hard from the start with the selections being made 40k in on the first real climb. I found myself in the 2nd group on the road after that ballistic first climb but we had 8 strong guys ready to work together to catch the front group of 7. We didn't catch them until 60k to go, and as soon as we did (field was whittled down to 11 at this point) everyone just sat up and wouldn't work. Me and another guy (basically the only two who would pull through on the flats) attacked w 50k to go and got a gap. The field wouldn't work well together so we immediately started putting some time into them. At the base of the last climb (a steep 2.5k SOB named the Montello w/ 30k to go in the race), we had over 3 min. on the field but I bonked hard from lack of food and water (though I ate more in that race than I ever have in my career and drank 8 bottles in 5 hours) and was dropped by my breakaway companion. I thought it was game over for me but I kept eating and drinking and started to come around after descending that final climb. At this point w 20k remaining, I go into to TT mode to try and hold off the field for 2nd. But I'm feeling slightly better now and am starting to motor fairly decent after 5 hours of racing. Sure enough, I spot the leader in front of me and catch him w 8k to go. At this point, we are both cracked and neither one of us wants to work but we still have to hold off the field so we continue with some weak pulls. While he is pulling on the front, I get a small run-up on him and attack him from behind. However, he looked back just before I got past him and so got a better jump than I was hoping for. He was able scratch and claw his way back to my wheel and there after would not budge from my wheel. Because I did not know the gap to the chase group, I had no other choice but to keep pedaling and lead it out and try to start late so that I was still accelerating thru the line so he would have a harder time getting by me. However, it was not to be and due to a slight confusion as to where the finish line was (there were about 5 overhead tents in the last 100m) and a lack of sprinting prowess, I was passed in the sprint and had to settle for 2nd. I was not too disappointed when I considered all the events leading up to my finish: 2 near crashes (once locking up the breaks on a descent and once missing a sign to turn and plowing into the eventual race winner when we were still in the chase group), 1 actual crash on a descent which bruised my hip a little and more detrimentally bent my deraileur hanger and caused me to lose half of my gears due to slipping, and the little hunger knock in the last part of the race. Considering all this and the fact that the winner used to race professionally on Pantani's Mercatone Uno team in the late 90s, I was not too disappointed/embarrassed/pissed off. But boy...putting a Pinarello Prince over the line first would have been nice! The winner and I averaged 38kph which I thought was respectable considering the difficulty and length of the race.
After the race, I got to meet the mayor of Treviso, who seemed a little nutty to me after he insisted that I drink wine on stage to 'recover' from the race. And Giorgio Andretta, the owner of Gita Sporting Goods(one of Team Bissell's biggest sponsors) acted as my interpreter for the post race interviews. It was a good time, and of course they couldn't get over how big I was, so it's probably better that I couldn't understand their jokes and jabs. :)
So, here are some pics from my time in Treviso:
In the Pinarello factory, the song "If I had a million dollars.." comes to mind.
Were you wondering what Valverde's spanish road champion bike says on the head/down tube during the Tour? I was. This is the bike Fausto Pinarello rode in the Granfondo this year.
We got to attend the presentation for the 2009 line of Pinarello bikes, and I was trying to capture the awe and excitement on people's faces after another new bike was unfurled. mild success.
The new look of the Montello. I think it's Bad Ass to be blunt.
This is about 4k up the San Boldo climb which was the 2nd climb of the race with 20 switchbacks and a couple of winding tunnel sections. very cool climb...unless you're racing it.
these temporary tats were in our race packet, so I sported one on my arm during the race. Cappucino doesn't count, right?
the fruits of my labor. this is the 2nd place trophy (very nice) coupled with Rebecca's impressive orchid which currently has 8 blooms! Thanks for reading!