Monday, May 25, 2015

Nove Colli and a relaxed day with Kate and John.

Yesterday was Nove Colli, a great race / event in Cesenatico around 3 hours by car from Florence.  It is a big event, this year over 14,000 cyclists, although only 12,500 could be registered for the "race" with timing.  It was a whole weekend for around 6 hours of cycling, but a great time.  One of the real benefits of being on a team here is that people from the team organized hotel rooms, transportation, a van for the bikes, and pretty much everything you can think of for the race and a great weekend.  Thanks so much Lorenzo, our team president, for all you do.  We met Saturday morning around 10, pretty close to the apartment and did the van loading and split up in vehicles.  We had 12 from our team, but only 8 of us were in the van and associated car.  A very stormy 3 hour drive got us to Cesenatico, where we checked into the hotel, then went to their main room for lunch.  Really a great spread for lunch, and everything was included in the price of the shared room (only 2 to a room), so it was a very good deal.

Lorenzo picked up race packets for all of us, and I took a cruise into town to check the bike and look at everything.  Kind of fun, but definitely a zoo.  We found a TV to watch the TT for the Giro, then a few hours of rest followed by another great spread of food for dinner.  Again, really quite good.  We discussed the plan for the morning, which meant for me, getting to bed early, as we were meeting back at the dining area at 4:30 am for breakfast before the race.  Ouch!  They had a nice breakfast spread ready for us, even cooking pasta to fill up for the race.  We met again at 5:30 for a group photo, then were off to the starting area to line up in our grid location.  With over 14,000 people, it is quite a feat to get everyone off reasonably and safely.

The race started promptly at 6am, but our group, numbers 8,000 to 10,000 did not get going until around 6:30.  It had been sprinkling while we waited for the start, but as we closed in on the timing pad, thunder, then real rain.  The rain lasted for at least 4 hours, which really made of a difficult time. I think I dressed very well, and did not really feel too cold after around 15 minutes of racing getting the blood going.  I saw very few falls considering the weather, in particular because the course has a number of steep descents.  Descents can get very slippery when the roads are wet, and add in hard rain, and you get the picture.  I saw 4 people go down, but basically everyone was very cautious and safe.  The rain pretty much stopped after around 4 hours, but at that point we climbed into a pretty heavy fog, but had visibility of 50 meters or so.  Still, very welcome after 4 wet hours.  The fog only lasted 30 minutes or so, but by then we were starting the last climb of the short or medium course, which almost everyone did.  It was definitely the hardest climb of the race, and the last kilometer of the climb averaged 18%, and I was stuck without my two easiest gears based on a small technical problem.

Difficult, but I made it and then enjoyed the mostly fast descent back to the flats into town.  The descent was broken up by around 5 more short (50 to 100 meter vertical) climbs, so it was not a gimmie.  Somewhere along this part I had a flat, but basically was able to coast into a mechanical pull off where experts put my bike in a stand, changed the tube, pumped it up and had me on the road in less the 5 minutes.  I asked if I could pay and they said it was part of the race and included in the inscription fee.  Sweet.  I caught a good, fast group when we hit the flats, which went from 8 to around 30 as we passed and picked up people on the way in.  The leaders for most of the way tired out, so it was pretty easy to kind of pass everyone as the finish line closed in.  Great organization, and I had a text message with my official time, 5:36:31 within 15 minutes of my finish.  Super wet, but really super fun.  137.3 kilometers in the 5:36 with 2052 meters climbed.

This is Marco Pantini land, and here is a monument to the locally
beloved cyclist the afternoon before the race, when we had hopes 
of reasonable weather.  

The night before we had a huge table with 12 from our team and
around 16 from a Roman team, who are friends with a couple
of our team members and were staying at the same hotel.  
The hotel provided 3 meals and let us use the rooms for showers
after the event.  Of course, the season has not really started for this
seaside resort, and the race, Nove Colli, was partly started to get people
there off season.  I think it works, as somewhere around 25,000 people
show up for the race.

A bit of the scene at the staging for the start at Nove Colli.
With over 14,000 cyclists, it takes a while to get everyone started.
This is our group and a number of the team members at the race
waiting to get going.  Everyone has a chip on the bike, so the real
start is when you ride over the timing piece.  

Lorenzo and Amanda from our team at the start area for our 
group (grillio) for numbers 8,000 to 10,000.

Jersey and bike ready to go with numbers in place the night 
before the race.  The jersey never saw the light of day, as a 
rain shell was in place the whole ride.

My daughter, Kate and a friend from both high school and 
college, John Rice, just below Luiano on a very nice, relaxed
tour in Chianti today.  63.3 k in 3:12 with 844 meters climbed.

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