La Bici.La Natura.La Liberta'

I have just returned from a long weekend of cycling in Italy, in taking part at few Granfondos and socialising rides.

I(We) was very lucky to find an astonishing weather with temperatures raising above the 25C with sunny days,this meant that cycling could have been more longer than anticipated.In fact not even 2 hours after I landed,I was on the bike in the middle of the Italian Apennines with friends enjoy the views and chatting,while sharing our passion.

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A riveting short trip to Italy ahead!!

Buongiorno a tutti, I am at the airport awaiting to depart to fly to Italy. The schedule it seems quite full on.

I will be landing in Italy at 1130am, apparently at 2pm I am riding,completely unaware of this.But it is fine that is why we are SaddleDrunkers...

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Bartolo talking to us about Granfondo Selle Italia 2014

No Number for me today!! Cervia, GF Selle Italia: exasperated agonism is not allowed for me today... maybe a bit of "tacchetta" while climbing with my  fellow travellers but at the top of the climb we wait each other to relish the amazing "ristori" (Italian name of food stations which includes cakes made by various "nonna", salami, ham, cheese, pasta and wine).

The Start.

Above all the long time lost friend's company is be the primary reason for me to be here today. He is also a SaddleDrunker, mainly for MTB and not a roadie.

Then, 05:45 wake up call!

Copious breakfast, check backpack to ascertain that everything has been packed (shoes is a must!!), then careful not to wake up the rest of the family, I slide like a snake as quiet as a butterfly to the garage.

Arrival in Cervia at 7.00, where I find all the "chipped riders" already revving up their legs in the line up like horses pawing waiting for the gates to be opened.

This time I am actually taking it easy and I slowly go to the meeting point to wait for my friend's arrival. I call him at 0725 and luckily he is awake but he is running late. Not bad at all!  It means I can indulge myself in a nice "espresso".

Avis Faenza Ciclismo.

I walk inside the bar and...wow..surprise . . : There I find some cyclist friends from 'Avis Faenza Ciclismo", a team from my home town that last winter I joined for occasional rides with my wife.

Yes, they all have race numbers but they seemed relaxed. As they are led by  "Granfondo" expert and veteran Gian Franco Lama, I am sure they will also have a wonderful and enjoyable ride admiring sceneries and the ristori.

Just time for a coffee and a quick chat, then time to join the back of the queue in the grid.

8am we start! I should say at 8am the first ones are departing. We cleat about 10 minutes later: wings of people and loud music follow the riders from the start line along the seafront.

The first 20km are flat and at these kind of events you have to take extra care as the amount of people can easily create crashes.

We rejoin the group of the Avis Faenza Ciclismo, they are really well behaved, all in line like a team and still led by Lama. Sometimes I wish there would be more teams like this one.

Legs are warming up, after a little climb,we approach the first real climb, then again we can start relaxing and chatting...Then another one in S.Teodorano..where we find the first ristoro! Cakes, jam tart, fruit … but the best is the ristoro “d'epoca”. Due to the fact that today there is also the vintage bikes GF, the "ristori" also provide a vintage menu.

The "ristoro d'epoca' provides meat pie, veggie pie, mushrooms, bread with honey, panini with salami, bread with butter and sugar and Sangiovese to avoid the mouth being dry.

We carry on cycling. After various climbs and downhills we reach one of my favourites climbs called "La Ciola".

At the top of "La Ciola".

Then,  at this time my friend starts to experience little pain in his legs. Probably due to the the transition from MTB to Road Bike. Thanks to him having this little pain, we have a chance to take it easy and enjoy the panorama of the surroundings. This is something that most of the time I don't have a chance to do as I push too much on the saddle.

After a little while we approach Montevecchio, “Cima Pantani”, nicknamed in the honour of the Pirata who used to come here and train.

After taking few photos we keep cycling until we reach the last 30km of flat with wind against us. I could see the pain on my friend's face, nothing to be worried it is quite common for cyclists.

We finally cross the finish line with a really good time!

The weather in Cervia is beautiful. The sun is out and the temperature is pleasant making us reluctant to say goodbye to each other.

We had a great morning of cycling, sharing a passion. We discussed the various issues of the morning before heading back to our cars.

SaddleDrunk Kit still looking good after 5 hours of riding.

The wife and the kids are waiting to hear from me. They are looking forward to share my amazing emotions on my return at home.

A quick shower and drive off to a nice cool-down and relaxing with wife and kids.

You can have a look at the profile of the race,click here 

http://www.strava.com/activities/127747300

Ciao for now, and let's get SaddleDrunk.

Bartolo.