Monday, March 20, 2006

Race One... Gran Fondo In Pomerance

We just got back from our trip down to Toscano. Its an awesome area! there are farms, mountains, hills, vineyards, castles, ancient towns built on the hills and on the tops of the mountains... We got down there by the train. We had to take like four trains though because there were no straight routes. the last train we had to take was simply a Deisel Truck on the tracks... no bigger than one passenger car with an engine underneath. So we got to this town called Saline, Then we had to jump on our bikes ride uphill for 10km to Pomerance, Register for the race, ride around town only to find no rooms in any hotels, ride back down the slope, then back up it... finally after like three hours and lots of worrying we arrived at this agri-tourism farm. It was owned by a huge family. They showed us the "room". It was a huge kitchen, dining room slash living room, bedroom with kingsize bed, and two bathrooms. It was fully equiped for cooking, cleaning ... anyways it was really nice. the floor, walls, and ceiling were all built with brick and stone. and best of all it was heated!!!!! something we havent had for a while. All this for only 30 bucks !!! We should just move down there. The next morning we awoke to find the sun had decided not to be warm and the rains came down. After a crappy warm up and tour of the town I headed to the start only to be the last guy there and started at the back. I need to start at the front or I have no chance at all. Anyways we headed out on the race course and I got up to 40mph on the downhill, then shortly after started the climb to Volterra. It was a sweet medieval town up on this huge hill of about 2000 feet elevation. There was a tall wall around it and cut backs all the way up to it. At the top there was an aid station, but only juice in little Dixie cups. So I just rode through without any. Coming down the other side was fun and fast. 40-45mph around the tight turns was fun especially on the slick surface. I had to take it easy though and hold back because of all the people on the course at that point. Because I had started so far back I was constantly behind people. So then the flat road began and we cruised at about 26-27 mph for quite a while in a large tight packed group. Nobody wanted to take any turns pulling at the front so we went pretty slow and the folks in front of us got quite the advantage I am sure. There were two or three more climbs… a little smaller than the volterra climb, however one of them was so steep I almost went backwards on it. And because the road was wet I slipped a few times and my wheel spun in place. People were flying off the road and sliding around everywhere, but luckily for me I had fallen in similar conditions in Australia a month ago and I knew my limits in the conditions.
After 100km in the saddle we made our way back through Pomerance and I was in the lead of our group. I passed by the race headquarters and saw Robyn sitting there… she started to scream and shout and wave her arms… it was awesome. She said that she wanted to chase me down and run next to me, but it was too cold. Well this was the time the race started to suck. There were three more huge climbs the biggest was to a town called castelnuovo. It was a steep climb about 12 km long and ended in this town that looked like it was used in the lord of the rings movie. But my hands and feet were too frozen to feel anything and I was having trouble shifting and braking.
I ran out of water and food and the rain continued on. My bike also had some problems, it started to make funny sounds in low gear and I was afraid that I had ruined my rear wheel. Well I made it back to the town and finished the 135 km race. I had been dropped by the 10 guys I was riding with though and finished in 75th place overall out of 1200 or so people. I felt great about it and enjoyed every minute of it. I just wish I could have taken some pictures of what I got to see. Robyn was waiting for me there alone, and helped me get back to the room to warm up.
Later that night I ate an incredible amount of food. So much that I was sleep talking later that night shouting that my stomache hurt!!!

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