The Passionate Italian Weekend

Aprile 2018

Ciao a Tutti,

It has been a long time that I have not written something about Cycling Experiences to share with all our followers.

 AYRTON SENNA MEMORIAL

AYRTON SENNA MEMORIAL

I will try not to bore you too much.

Few weekends ago a group of 16 from the SaddleDrunk Cycling Friends Club ( join us on Strava via this link ) went for a long weekend in Faenza, Emilia Romagna, Italy, Europe, Planet Earth.

They flew out early friday morning from the beautiful London to Bologna, capital of the some of the best Italian food…Like Bolognese Sauce the way it is called outside Italy,  Ragu another good one, Cappelletti, Tortellini, Ravioli , Tortelli, la “ “Mortazza” (Mortadella) & much more…not to mention that Bologna host the oldest university in Europe….

 Agriturismo La Sabbiona

Agriturismo La Sabbiona

SD staff & I pick them up from the airport and whisked them away to Imola to have an amazing lunch inside the tragically famous Formula 1 race track  where 2 pilots lost their lifes long time ago…RIP Ratzenberg & Senna where we visited their memorials. Really a big touch feeling for me as I saw it with my eyes that tremendous weekend…

OK!!..let’s get a grip and bang on Cycling…We got to the lovely Agriturismo La Sabbiona, after check & prepared out bikes we headed out to the lovely Brisighella a Medieval town.

 Local Delicacies

Local Delicacies

After our lovely ride in the hills to get new fresh oxygen in our lungs, plenty of fun during the ride including a lovely crash in the first downhill.

We refreshed ourselves & headed out to Town for a meal in a traditional Osteria.

Osteria la Sghisa as usual made us feeling at home with their friendly staff and the astonishing food where we partied until late to celebrate Laura's Birthday.

 Laura's Gluten Free cake

Laura's Gluten Free cake

The Saturday, we woke up gently by the sounds of the "Galletto" in the farm.Followed up by an Italian & Intercontinental breakfast fuelling up for our day on the bike. 

We spent all day on a bike touring around the hills and preparing for the Granfondo Le Cime Di Romagna 2018 the following day organised by the Gruppo Sportivo Ciclistico Avis Faenza.

 Local Art

Local Art

In the evening we had another amazing meal at Casa Spadoni where everyone was able to enjoy more culinary delicacies from the area of Emilia Romagna

 Italian Style Aperitif Time

Italian Style Aperitif Time

 A team photo at the feed station!!

A team photo at the feed station!!

The Sunday morning we had an early wake due to the 7:30 start of the event.The 3 various distances were perfect for the different group abilities. The distance covered were Corto, Medio & Lungo

Everyone had great fun,and we all enjoyed the “LOCAL’s” attentions, the friendly event’s staff,the well organised event and routes and the well stocked feed stations.

We were awarded 2 trophies due to be the furthest team. The trophies were a really long & thick      “ SALAMI “ and a big ceramic vase from one of the local ceramist in Faenza.

Faenza is very well known in the world thanks to be the home of Ceramics.

 Prize Ceremony to be the farthest travelled Team.

Prize Ceremony to be the farthest travelled Team.

The last day of our trip was a realxing day where we had a really slow where we enjoyed our breakfast.

Our local host Serena owner of La Sabbiona, prepared our class room with flour,eggs, rolling pins, chef’s hat & all other items needed to complete the cooking course.

At the end of the course all the “students” were able to eat the food made during the class & well earned after sweating.

As the weekend was more than amazing, we will make this an annual event for the club.Therefore if you like to be part of just join us at ride@saddledrunk.com

I hope you enjoyed the reading and remember to be safe on the road.

Ciao

SD 

 Setting new best FTP's while making Pasta.

Setting new best FTP's while making Pasta.

La Vacanza e' Finita!!

Ciao a tutti,

Now the holidays are over and we will be getting back to the normal life,routines, activities.

We will spent the next few rides chit chatting away about the amazing holidays we had & peoples we met..

 Photo Credits of PA-Cyclism

Photo Credits of PA-Cyclism

Brain cells will start to plan for your next trip,goal.target or PB's...Always remember to stay concentrate on the road while talking on the saddle.

Therefore if you let me, I would like to give you few cycling events which are worth taking part:

  1. The Road World Championships 2017 Granfondo in Bergen,Norway just less the 4 weeks away;
  2. Leg of Steel 2017 in the Surrey Hill it say on the tin..good riding.Amazing event organised by Ful On Tri (30th of September); 
  3. Our few days trip around the Mount Ventoux, 8th to the 10th of October email us at ride@saddledrunk.com for more info;
  4.  The stunning KOM in Taiwan ,for real climbers not for the faint hearted (October 2017);
  5. The Granfondo China in November ,multi stages event in the stunning Yunnan (November 2017);
  6. We also have another little trip away to Majorca from the 6th to the 9th of November, email us at ride@saddledrunk.com for more info;
  7. Ethiopia Wild Bike organised by a good friend Willy at PA Cyclism (December 2017);
  8. Another one is the Patagonia,Argentina & Chile ride, for real wilderness (December 2017);
  9. Finally my favourite...The Mongolia Bike Challenge....Mongolia is a stunning country,people are amazing and this is the best way to see the true colours (August 2018);
 The beautiful Colours of Yunnan.

The beautiful Colours of Yunnan.

Those ones are my favourite that I would like to share with you. So now is time to shape up, to keep dreaming or start dreaming.

Be determine and you will reach your destinations, push your limits.Don 't create barriers that are not needed.Just do it.

SD Team.

GRANFONDO LA MONT BLANC

Nick named "La Granfondo on top of Europe's Roof" will be held again this year in the stunning surrounding of the Mont Blanc,in Courmayeur.

The event will be held on the 26th of June 2016 and thousands of riders will attend this astonishing Granfondo.

The rides available caters for everyone,from novice to expert.There will be plenty of climbing,plenty of elevation gain.The feed stations manned by the friendly local people will be able to provide local delicacies given you the boost to ride those mountains. 

You can reach the event from various airports, Geneva,Turin,Milan. Transfers could be arranged via private  buses or car hires.

Accommodations can cater for every needs, from apartments to 5 star hotel,Cycling and golf could also be combined.A little tour to the Mont Blanc,horse riding,relaxing at the SPA and food & wine tasting are a great combination for an amazing weekend.

Check this video to feel the immense of this location. 

We can help in arranging your weekend away in the top of Europe. Packages can be provided,for more info email us store@saddledrunk.com.

Otherwise you can find the registration link by clicking here .

 Profile of the long distance. 

Profile of the long distance. 

The SaddleDrunk Team will be there,you can also be there in sharing great emotions with us.

SD TEAM

Caleb Ewan racks up his 6th victory in 2016 on Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia

Legendary sprinter Robbie McEwan summed up the first stage of the Tour Down Under in South Australia with poetic simplicity. 

“Too much fitness, too much form, too much speed,” McEwan said of Caleb Ewan’s win, his sixth of the year.

 

Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under set off just 3km from the Adelaide CBD in the inner-northern suburb of Prospect. It was steamy, windy, dusty and 130km to the finish line after three laps around the famous Barossa Valley wine region in to the town of Lyndoch.

Sean Lake (UniSA), Martijn Keizer (Team Lotto NL Jumbo) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) jumped ahead of the field as soon as the flag had waved.

Lake took the only categorised climb of the day at the 12.8km mark, edging Keizer in a photo finish. The UniSA rider donned the polka dot jersey at the end of the day, continuing a strong start to 2016 for Lake after a bronze medal at the Australian national time trial.

The three-rider break was kept on a short leash. Their advantage rapidly declined from 80km out as Orica GreenEdge set the tempo behind to keep Caleb Ewan “the guy with the freshest legs that wins the sprint in the end”.

The break jostled for the first Cockatoo Valley sprint point. Frenchman Gougeard opened hostilities from third wheel and crossed the line ahead of Keizer and an indifferent Lake. The second sprint points on the following lap were then taken in a bizarre fashion by Gougeard ahead of Lake and Keizer. The police motos were caught unaware of the acceleration behind them and accidentally blocked the riders from a proper sprint. Oops. Keizer would drop back to the peloton soon after.

With 47km to go, the field started to spread across the road and the Orica GreenEdge presence reduced to just Michael Hepburn. Hepburn wouldn’t leave the front until 15km to go.

Sean Lake gapped Gougeard with 22km to go, the Frenchman showing no interest in fighting for the diminishing 25-second gap in the scorching 40°C heat.

Lake’s move impressed Robbie McEwan as he commentated on the race.

“This sport is about having a big engine, and knowing how to suffer,” McEwan said about strongman Sean Lake.

Lake bravely stretched his gap to 55 seconds with 16km to go, but was swallowed by the group at the 6km mark.

Sprint trains began forming with 10km remaining. Lampre, Lotto-Soudal, Sky, and Dimension Data appeared to have the best organisation in the punishing wind.

Peter Kennaugh (Sky) took control at the 1km mark, leading a well-organised Sky train. Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) dragged Ewan up the side of the Sky line, dropping him into the perfect position behind fellow Aussie Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data). Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) opened the hostilities from a long way out, but faded as the other sprinters wound it up.

Renshaw was sprinting for himself, but inadvertently gave Ewan the perfect lead-out. The 21-year old Australian jumped out from behind Renshaw and powered for the line, winning by two bike lengths. Renshaw would cross second, with Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling) third.

The impeccable timing, mind-blowing power-to-weight, and impossibly low position begs the question whether Ewan is beatable for the Tour Down Under.

“I need to thank Gerro (Simon Gerrans) for sharing the team with me” said Ewan, still panting from his sprint effort. “For a guy like that who can win overall to say I can have the team to chase a sprint, it means a lot.”

Ewan will lead the GC, sprint, and young rider classification for 132km Stage 2 on Wednesday (20 Jan) from the suburb of Unley to Stirling in the hills east of Adelaide.  

What were they thinking?

It’s surprising that a 20-team race allowed a three-man break to fight for the first polka dot jersey, decided only 12.8km in. In the end it was only two men contesting the KOM. This is a short race, every point matters. Also, polka dots look awesome, it has been scientifically proven. Good luck pulling the jersey off Sean Lake, the ex-rower is burly. 

Author James Raison

Thank You James and "The Lead South Australia"

SD TEAM.

The World Famous Stage 4 of the Granfondo China.

Last week everyone in the world was admiring and talking about the crash that happened at the finish line in Dali right next to the Olympic Stadium.

Road.CC was the one advertising in the western world, unfortunately they have reported what they picked up from local medias in China & Riders that were not there,and even worst then ever made no contacts to the Organising Team.Quite unprofessional I would say. 

I was there,and this happened few hundreds yards before my crossing on the line.Therefore, it would be unfair for me to explain this and also because I feel a quite passionate about the accident.

Therefore an anonymous rider that was in the pack writes to us to understand.

There appears to be gross misinformation and interpretation going rampant on global social media about what happened at the Yunnan Gran Fondo Day four spectacular crash. This is a comment in the attempt to shed light on what actually happened in China and for the record, it could happen to any organiser in the world.  Something similar had happened in Texas racing in the past where the lead group and chase group go separate ways on the race course, although not on the same scale in Dali. First, lets correct some facts. There were allegations that the lead car went the wrong way and that the organiser, Nordic Ways, deny fault. Both are un-true and come from people interviewed that were not even at the race. It seems that most of the Western media, including road.cc just copies the story released by China Press Agency Xinhua without verifying any of the facts including misquoting the name of the event. The statement that 17 cyclists were hospitalised as a result of that crash is also incorrect. There were many crashes, as is normal in bike racing, during the high speed stage and those riders went to the hospital. It is quite common for riders in China to be taken to the hospital as a precaution.  

Where is the investigative journalism in the sport of cycling?  Are journalists in the sport just seeking sensationalism without checking facts?  It was unfortunate that the local Chinese media based their reports on testimonies provided by people who had not even witnessed the crash accident and never bothered to verify claims with the race director or relevant people in the organisation.  This has led to Western media picking this up and re-publishing; thus creating the social media storm we are witnessing now. 

There was no doubt that the local organisation made a mistake with the final corner that led the lead group riders to take the wrong side of the road.  It was also announced immediately after the crash that damages of any kind would be compensated. This shows that Nordic Ways was taking responsibility for the incident, so the claim that the organisers refused to take the blame is ludicrous. It should also be remembered that a number of riders from the lead group said afterwards “as a rider you also need to keep using your head”.

As it happens, I was part of the lead group contesting the stage and now will offer my view on what happened in those last few moments of the 125km stage around the ErHai Lake of Dali. 

Firstly, this type of crash with riders from opposing directions hitting each other like Spartacus on bikes is perhaps a one-of-a-kind. As far as I know this type of crash had never happened before in the history of cycling and, statistically speaking, it is highly unlikely it will never happen again. It also could happen to any organiser and not just because it is in China. There seems to be an undercurrent of borderline racist comments happening on social media channels without any basis. These are people who have never before raced in China, perhaps never even been to China on a visit.  China does actually put on fantastic events and they are run with a high safety record. If you have raced in other countries like Philippines or other South East Asian places, you will understand how chaotic it can be. 

Think about it for a second, a peloton sprinting in full flight in the wrong direction to the finish-line and colliding with a second group of racers sprinting in the correct direction, makes for potentially a nasty fatal crash. Fortunately, all riders made it through relatively unscathed despite nearly 20 riders hitting the deck crashing into riders head on.  The final corner in question should have been marked and marshalled by local police officials. It transpired that the two assigned workers for the left-hand corner that led to the finishing straight, approx 800m before the finish-line, bungled the corner. They did not follow instructions given to them and they closed off the corner on the outside with tape instead of the inside. The workers had also placed bright orange cones but spaced too far apart, thus in the heat of the action the lead group followed the first rider and thats how the large group went down the wrong side of the road. Further confusing riders was the red banner on the right side of the road next to the correct banner.

I truly don’t know what was going on in their minds when the decision was made to do the U-turn and sprint again when it was crystal clear that the riders went down the wrong finishing chute?

Perhaps it was desperation for a result and thus prize money that is on offer?  What happened was truly the worst possible way to crash. There was a small group of five riders contesting the sprint amongst themselves (they had been gapped off the front group due to the crash with 4km to go). The rider in red buried himself and did not look up during his final 150m sprint. When he did look up, it was too late; he had smashed into the first rider also sprinting to the finish-line. It was miraculous that all riders came out of the crash with minor injuries; the damage was restricted to one broken collar-bone and one broken finger plus plenty of bruises. 

If there was no prize money on offer, would the riders still be so desperate to sprint in the wrong direction to win a bike race?

Back to the final corner blunder. In hind-sight, which is always 20-20, if riders themselves took on responsibility by scouting out the last 1km of the course, it may have prevented the events that happened as all would know to take the left side of the road after the corner. But then again, the organisers need to make it water-tight so that it is impossible for riders to take the wrong turn.  

This whole incident shines light on how important it is for protecting rider safety by ensuring water-tight courses. This was an unfortunate incident that transpired but lets not get caught up on the idea that it could only happen in China; it could happen anywhere. 

Racing in China is a unique experience for foreigners and lets not let an event like this prevent you from exploring the racing scene yourself, should you ever have the opportunity.   Nordic Ways has been putting on events in China for more than 10 years and have a solid reputation for putting on iconic events. They are also responsible for popularising the Gran Fondo movement in China. Visit their website for more details - www.granfondochina.com

Thank you