I traveled to Italy to participate to the Gran Fondo Max Lelli
Once I got there I spent the day with Max’s mechanic to cut the integrated seat post of my new ML Team frame, put up my new Hed aero wheels and complete the adjustment of the Campy Record.
Max and his mechanic continued to tell me to try to do the next day short TTClimb assuring that wasn’t that hard, remarking the shortness, its just 5K they kept saying
I and Dino Edin from Hed agreed to register for it .
We drove a rented Fiat Panda along the tiny road as if we were getting in a private propriety and the Panda couldn’t go up easily, had to be taken up in first gear struggling. The surface of the road was concrete with steps every feet to avoid skidding, probably in the winter cars have serious hard time to get up there.
Many of you know that I have a very poor condition and my prior racing experience is limited to two criteriums of which I completed only one with a deep delay, I felt worried by my inexperience and poor preparation and by the steepness but I wasnt scared and I had all the intentions to complete the race.
We park the car up at the arrival and ride down to the start, the steps kills you shaking you to death, at the 4th K down I felt so tired to hold the brakes hoping to see the end and release the tension. After worming up down at the valley we get close to the start, 92 degree without any breeze, the race starts inside the Grand Hotel Saturnia hot springs, we were all sweating like crazy, about 60/70 riders by the well organized TT start, we met Emanuele Sella (4 mountain stage victory at this year Giro), a real climber that came down as a guest, when they call my number to get ready on top of the platform I start to feel weird, sweating gets colder and Max comes to tell me something that I do not even understand , they count me down and its so cool to be held and pushed down the ramp. I start as fast as I can and after the two turns I realize that if I like to get to the top of the hill in my conditions I need to take it easy so I try to find my rhythm. After 3K climbing I was already overtaken by three guys and at 4.5K I died right where the climb hits the toughest point, I had to put one leg down and try to reduce my gasping and hearth rate. Once I started to feel better a group of spectators armed of a large flask of Vernaccia pour me a glass of it and I drank it (sounds crazy but I loved it) right after I tried to go diagonal right by the driveway that I stopped by and in the 3 meters width I made it to lock my pedal. it looked hard to restart but I made it and I also made it to accelerate, I passed the peak right in front of Marco Pantani house in a decent sort of agility, once I sow the finish area with the hundreds of people TV etc I went back to the suggestion of Randy Warren, I started to think about my jersey and the ugly faces I was doing so I lifted my body up, zipped up my jersey, fitted right the neck and I passed the finish line with my arms high as if I won the race.
The time took me to get up was infinite, 33 minutes, Vlad Smirnov won with 11 minutes and change , my friend Dino from Hed made it in 14 and the star Emanuele Sella (guest not registered in the race) ended the climb in 9.5 minutes. There were worse riders than me, the longest time was 45 minutes and several guys gave up turning back down hill, it was great to finish and I will do all I can to go there next year and be better.
I love bikes and I love Tuscany