Tuesday, July 3, 2007

2007 Maratona dles Dolomites, Part II

Pre-Race Day

The first part of the adventure was packing my Richard Sachs S&S bike into the hard case, an endeavor I hadn't undertake previously. I referred to the S&S website for packing tips and everything went into the case smoothly. I did discover that it's best to have the chain on the small chainring, and smallest rear gear in order to have the least amount of pull on the cable splitters for the derailleurs. All the frame tubes were covered with a protective wrap that I could seal with velcro. I decided to pack my wheels in wheel bags and pack all my clothing into the case.

What to pack in terms of clothing has to be given careful consideration. You basically have to be ready for anything and need to dress in layers. It's cold in the very early mornings in the mountains, even in July. Last year it was 0 C (32 F) at race start. So, for some test/easy rides upon arrival and race day, into the hard case went a cycling undershirt, bib shorts and jerseys, a wind vest, a jacket with removable sleeves, two types of rain jackets (for light to pouring rain), arm and leg warmers, shot and long fingered gloves, favorite socks, cycling shoes, helmet (required) and miscellaneous stuff. As you are doing this you are praying for good weather. In addition I stuffed my causal clothes into the case all of which nicely padded the frame.

Although the race was on Sunday we decided to spend a few extra days in the wonderful mountain air and some relaxation at a nice hotel. Ms. E. and I departed on Thursday via train from Verona to Brunico and then by bus from Brunico to Corvara. That night, after dinner, I assembled the Richard Sachs and was very happy that everything worked.

Friday morning I did an easy spin up Passo Campolongo to the top and a fast descent back to Corvara. Between the Richard Sachs frame and my custom built Record 36 spoke wheels the bike is the bomb on descents (a notable differnce from my Pinarello alu/carbon frame). From Corvara I cycled to the Maratona EXPO zone area to pick up my packet (which includes a jersey every year) and visit the EXPO which featured many of big players on the Italian cycling industry. Then it had to be a fast uphill ride back to Corvara just in time for my one hour massage. My legs felt like rubber afterwards but after two years without a massage and all the riding the last few weeks my legs were screaming for some attention. The late afternoon was spent shopping in the Tyrolean shops for interesting food goodies, clothing and such. Normally we would take a chair lift to some peak and stroll but the weather was constantly changing from sunny skies to ominous clouds so we decided to stay in town. Later, while sitting at the Cafe Stua dal Te having strudel and soaking up rays, it was quite by chance that I spotted Greg LeMond; more about this later.

Saturday was a total relax day although there were hundreds of cyclists going on training rides and I was very tempted. For me it's better to have a rest day before a race. I did go watch some of the children's races in the morning that are organized by Maria Canins (women's Tour de France winner 1985, silver and bronze medalist in the World Championships and two time road Italian national champion). Later in ther afternoon I met up with New Jerseyite, and author of http://www.biciveneto.it/ and writer for ROADIE magazine, April Pedersen Santinon. We had a interesting discussion ranging from life in Italy to the Italian cycling culture.

After dinner I stopped by the lobby hotel to check the weather forecast for Sunday. Good news! It would be a sunny morning, warmer than usual, with possible strong showers in the afternoon. I decided to ride the 106 Km (65.8 miles), 6 pass (3,090 m or 10,137 feet of climbing) mediofondo. This decision was based on a) my information packet indicated that if I completed in less than 6 hours I would be able to move up in the starting grid (Group C, ahead of the gigantic Group D) for the next year, b) I just couldn't wrap my head around doing 8+ hours in the saddle that it would take me for the 138 Km distance, c) I could compare my results with last year.

Photos: the Richard Sachs packed; Maria Canins at the children's races

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