Monday, June 3, 2013

Firenze / Modena 2013

This post will be a little different, as the course was totally new to me, well marked, and I don't remember enough to truly describe the ride.  I will describe the general fun and difficulties had.  The ride is an every two years re-enactment of the 1940 Giro stage on the same course.  In the 1940 stage, at a point during one of the climbs, Coppi had some mechanical difficulty and Bartoli took the lead, and thus started their competition.  Bartoli being the young gun, and Coppi the established champion.  Kind of like the 1960 US open when Jack Nicholas, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Hogan all came together in a close competition.  Anyone can read more of the history by checking out the careers of Coppi and Bartali, two great champions.

There were around 150 participants, and we started at the velodrome in Florence.  The start was a little slow in coming, but once we go going, I realized that there was a lead car and motorcycles clearing traffic.  In fantasy land, you could believe you were riding a Giro, only much slower.  The lead car and group of motorcycles stayed with us almost 40 kilometers, and the group was totally together averaging around 35 kph until the first real climb.  At the first real climb, the vehicles left us, and it was time for the real effort to begin.  I have been climbing pretty quickly, for me, lately, and started that way, but reminded myself that this was a long day with lots (3200 meters or 10,500 feet) of climbing.  Remembering this, I shifted to easier gears and climbed with less effort.  The team split up pretty quickly.  I stayed with the lead group of Terenzio, Luca, and Alessandro until I stopped to relieve my middle aged bladder.  After starting again, I caught another teammate, Lorenzo, and we stayed together for the rest of the tour.

The first climb was perhaps the most difficult, but you were also at your freshest.  At the top of the first climb, around 750 meters of climbing, they had people giving you musette bags with food, just like a pro race.  The fantasy continues.  We added some clothing, as Lorenzo told me the valley we were descending through was known for obtaining and storing ice in the old days.  Pretty soon, we were on another climb to the top of Passo Oppio, the opium pass, which is curious.  On this climb, Lorenzo and I caught another teammate, Zanobi, and the three of us stayed together for the remainder of the tour.  After another good climb, although shorter, we had a reasonable descent, then another long, relatively hard climb to the Passo Abetone.  This was probably not as steep as the first climb, but the freshness is gone.  At the top, Zanobi was a little ahead of me, and Lorenzo was around 5 minutes behind.  There was a control point here, and you had a little booklet they stamped.  Good refreshments, food, and comraderie was enjoyed here.  After giving Lorenzo a little time here to regroup, the three of us started off on our first real descent of the day.

A good descent in beautiful country.  The pass at Abetone is the real mountain pass in the tour, and the scenery was simply awesome.  Being a mountain person almost all my life, it was great to be back in the mountains.  We finished the descent, then had a period of contouring with climbing, then a real climb to a simply beautiful town called Barigazzo.  I filled my water bottle, then a ristoro, or food and aid station was 100 meters ahead.  Again, Zanobi was around 200 meters ahead of me, and we waited for Lorenzo for 5 or 10 minutes.  We had a beautiful descent from there, and eventually came out of the mountain area, but had a number of smaller climbs to make.  We dropped into a real valley and had some traffic on a pretty major road for 10k or so, then turned off on a smaller road to descend / climb / descend through rolling hills before the true, long descent to the valley that Modena is in.

Around 25 k of relatively flat terrain takes you into Modena.  Lorenzo was pretty beat, and I have to admit, I was pretty tired as well.  Zanobi basically pulled us in all the way to the finish at a great pace.  I guess being 25 years old, perhaps you can find some extra strength as you ride.  Anyway, awesome work Zanobi, it was totally appreciated.  When we arrived, you get a picture taken with the event organizers, a cool beer mug with the race profile, which I will have to use today, and then I found my bag which was sent by a van, and took a shower.  There was a nice pasta "feed" with lots of liquids, including wine.  We connected with the three from our team in front of us, who had made it to Modena around 1/2 hour ahead of us.  They had to wait for one of the group behind us for their bags, as he had keys to the car that had the bags.

We enjoyed the finish area, and it ended up that the remainder of our group was among the final finishers around 1-1/2 hours behind us.  They are really pretty darn fit and fast riders, which only emphasizes what the whole group was like.  They finished to cheers from many, and although some of the finish line area was picked up, the cooks made a great pasta feast for them and had wine and food for them and the organizers.  The remainder of the group showered, we divided up into vehicles, and loaded the bikes on a truck that Alessandro had dropped in Modena and returned home.  What a great day.  A super team to be a part of that organized everything with the vehicles, bags, etc.  Some additional memories are both old and young people at different parts of the course cheering you on.  It makes you feel great.  How lucky I am to be here and enjoying this wonderful cycling culture.

Ride summary:  114.6 miles in 7:41 rolling time for an average speed of 14,9 mph with 10,500 vertical feet of climbing at a sun affected average temperature of 74.  (the garmin read less, but the weather really changed as we rode, and the official course elevation change is 3200 meters.  It is interesting that when I enabled the elevation correction on Garmin, it had 17,000 vertical feet of climbing)

Firenze / Modena - fantastic tour. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The squadra on the infield of the velodrome before the start.
A former Giro rider introduced the tour and wished us luck, 
but finished with "in the end, it is only you and your bike"

Lined up and waiting for the start.

Beautiful mountain views on the climb to Abetone.

One of the views from Abetone at the ristoro.

The ristoro in Abetone.

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