March 8th, Bardolino
The revived G.F. International Citta' Di Bardolino, also known as the ZERO WIND Lake Garda Tour, is scheduled for tomorrow. I'm entered in the 90 km Medio Fondo (the Gran Fondo is 155 km, for me it's way to early in the season to be racing 155 km). The organizers have cleverly planned the routes so that the Gran Fondo riders, starting at 0900, who are riding entirely around the lake clockwise from Bardolino, will be joined by the Medio Fondo riders who will be taking a ferry across the lake from Bardolino to Toscolano Maderno.
Registration was limited to 1,300 riders and the limit was reached on 27 February. The moral of the story: register early!
Packet pickup was this afternoon in Bardolino, or you could pick it up very early in the morning prior to race start. My friend Paolo and I thought it best to drive today and pickup our packets. Turned out to have been a good idea. On the way we chatted about his having the flu all week and my cold that just won't go away. Nevertheless, we are optimistic for tomorrow.
Packet pickup was from 1530 to 1900 at il Palazzotto dello Sport in via XX Settembre in Bardolino. When we arrived there at 1535 the scene looked like this, and the crowd was getting larger by the minute:
You must live in Italy to understand that this spells trouble. The concept of queueing does not exist. When they finally opened the doors there was dash to the tables and chaos ensued. It was really crazy. The crowd was pushing forward and those nearest to the front were getting shoved against the tables. This gentleman was using a checklist to verify the registration.
In these situations you have to be agressive or you will not make any forrward progress. Paolo, upper left, is getting squeezed from all sides. Hopefully, the last of organizational problems.
We finally obtain our race packets and escape with our lives. What's in the packets?
-timing chip with velco straps (to be wrapped around your ankle)
-Enervit energy packet
-race numbers for the bike, the rear of jersey/jacket, and one for a backpack so you can change on the ferry into your race ready gear
-two small safety lights; a red one for your seatpost, a white for your handlebars
-the main gift, a ZERO WIND windbreaker, would be available tomorrow after the race and upon turning in the timing chip
The packet also contained these final "IMPORTANTE" instructions:
-grando fondo start time is 0900
-the ferry carrying the medio fondo particpants departs at 0815; the medio fondo will start 15 minutes after the first gran fondo rider passes in Toscolano Maderno
-the safety lights must be on before the start(s), otherwise you are disqualified (a good ruling since it's very dark in the tunnels on the northwest side of the lake); sunglasses should be removed prior to entering tunnels; tunnels should be confonted with caution
-roads are open to traffic
-don't discard water bottles or other items onto the roadways
We left as the sun started to go down casting nice light.
Returning home the first stop was at my computer checking http://www.meteo.it/ for tomorrow's forecast. The forecast was for rain ending during the night, clouds and no rain tomorrow from 0600 to 1800, temperatures ranging from 5 to 10C. We just might get lucky.
Ms. E. prepared a pre-race dinner of plenty of pappardelle (large fettuccine, 2-3 cm wide) and a porkchop. Next, get all my clothes ready and laid out, get my bike ready, and set the alarm clock to 0555. To bed at 2030.