Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The "Gruppo 1" Cycling Club

In 2006 I joined the Gruppo 1 cycling club which is headquartered in the San Massimo community of Verona. It has approximately 50 members and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006.

The President is Beppe (Giuseppe). His wife is Daniela. They were featured in a GRANFONDO magazine article entitled "Ideal Companions". Both are very good cyclists. Beppe has a full time job and spends the bulk of his free time on club related activities.

The club has it's own place for meetings (weekly, on Thursday evenings starting at 9:30pm.....things get started here late in general!), luncheons and dinners. The club also has a van which is used to take bikes and members to events, and is also used on the week long tours as a sag wagon and rolling restaurant.

Ride wise the club publishes a rather busy event schedule each February. The schedule is made up of several parts:

Club Rides: rides for members, or guests, ranging from 4-5 hours, all day, multi-day rides, to a one week tour. All day rides involve riding from Verona or taking the van and then riding. On multi-day rides the van always comes along to provide sag support and to set-up the lunch stops (which can include making pasta and basically having a feast). There is also a one week "tour" ride. Last year's one week tour took us to Corsica; this year we will be going to southern Italy to ride in the Puglia region.

Raduno: each club in the Province of Verona sponsors a "raduno", usually held on Sunday mornings. This is unlike any event in the USA. Approximately 500 cyclists come to each one and goes off as a group led by motorcycles and police cars to close off the roads as the group passes. The route is normally about 30 miles in length with the first half being ridden at a leisurely pace and the 2nd half at about 18-20mph (depending on the hosting club which always rides at the front). Afterwards there is food and wine and prizes are handed out. The prizes are based on the number of participants from each club. What's nice is that every club receives a prize. Prizes include trophies, formaggio, salumi, etc. It's a low key, fun, activity. At the end of the season there is a totaling of all the points accumulated by each club and there is an awards dinner and the 1st place, 2nd, etc., are announced as Verona Province champions. I should add that each year there is a national raduno rally which the club attends where cyclists come from all over Italy to ride.

Granfondo: the club has a short list of 5 granfondos it enters.

Lui Lei TT: a his and hers 2 person time trial.

The club also has a ride every Wednesday a.m., and on Saturdays that are not scheduled with any of the above.

As you can imagine it's a busy cycling season from February-November; from December to February the Wednesday and Saturday rides continue.

There are all several luncheons and dinners as well during the year that have to be squeezed into the schedule. Gruppo 1 loves to eat well and have a good time!

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