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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
May Day (May 1st) is loosely our equivalent of our Labor Day, but historically has been more connected with Europe’s various communist parties. With communism reduced to little more then a memory in most of Europe the day has lost some significance, but is still an important bridge between the Easter holiday and taking most of the summer off. How is celebrated depends on the country, Germany has riots…..Italy puts on a bike race

When I lived in Italy back in the early 90’s Grandfondos were the low end of the cycling food chain, Most old fat guys out for a Sunday cruise...now they are huge. Attracting fields of up to 8,000 there are several to choose from every weekend in Italy, the courses are challenging, and the competition is deep. There is prize money and the fields range from Pros and Elite amateurs to 80 year old guys who have millions of miles in their legs no matter how fast you there will always be someone in front of you.

There were two races available, the Grandfondo at 100 miles, 8200 feet of climbing and the Mediofondo with 62 miles, 4,000 feet of climbing. I was doing the long course and my wife the shorter one. The 10 Colli is one of the more important races on the schedule with 4,000 entrants and a great course that is almost completely closed to traffic. While my training in the states was going well the last 8 days of late nights, heavy eating and drinking, little riding, and walking hours each day on cobbles streets had serious impaired by ability to do little more then lay in bed. I had no desire to ride 6 minutes, let alone 6 hours. As we rode the empty streets to the race start I wanted nothing more then to turn around and go back to bed

The race starts in waves, first off the pros, ex pros, elites, etc. There are about 500 of them and it is crazy fast. It resembles a normal pro race with team cars, neutral race support, race Marshals. My wave was next…as usual it started fast 25-35mph for the first ½ hour with a constant fight for position, it seemed like everyone was trying to get to the front as soon as possible. I soon found myself at the back of the first group….unfortunately this group was at least 500 riders so the only time I saw the front was on long straights. Once we hit the first of the 10 climbs things settled down a bit, the only noise would be the various team cars and course marshals zooming by.

I did not have much of a goal for the race. With my legs dead from the week of travel I just wanted to have some fun and finish, hopefully less than 6 hours. 6 hours for 100 miles is not that fast but add in the 8,200 feet and dead legs and it is a bit of a challenge.

One of the race sponsors was Pinarello, I have never seem so many Princes, Dogmas, etc. They had there entire team there, team cars, buses, RV. A big show. About ½ way thru the race I came upon a bigwig at Pinarello. I am not sure who exactly it was but his name was Lucca, He is in his early 40’s and in good shape. When you are a big dog in the company you do not race like the other guys. This dude had seven, no joke seven, domestiques, carrying his water and pulling him across the flats. His domestiques all wore identical blue Pinarello kit and rode matching, brand new Princes ($10,000 each). Mr. Pinarello wore a similar, but all white kit with his name on it. Better for his workers to keep an eye on him, which they did often…looking back to see if he was OK every 30 seconds. Once I figured out who he was I had a new goal, beat the rich guy.

I would yoyo with Team “Rich Guy” through out the race, dropping them on the climb, only to have his guys pull back everyone on the flat. Finally on the longest climb of the race I put a hard effort and moved up a bunch of spot…and put some good time between me and the Rich Guy. Did not see him the rest of the race.

With 30Km to go I started to pay for the week of heavy living. Legs started cramping, ouch, and of course the organizers had saved the best for last. The last two of the climbs both had 16% stretches with a final 17-18% stretch coming only 6 km from the finish that cracked a bunch of people. Finished in 5:54 and beat the rich guy.

I was only moderately happy with the finish. I was beat by a TON of riders. I could have gone much faster, maybe 30-45 minutes, if I had some rest and pushed it a bit. ...need to take it more seriously next year.
 

· duh...
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you wife must be fairly tall... that is a looong head tube on that serotta. it's interesting how those fondos have turned into such a big deal and people race 'em
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
FatTireFred said:
you wife must be fairly tall... that is a looong head tube on that serotta. it's interesting how those fondos have turned into such a big deal and people race 'em
Yup, she is almost 6 foot....BTW, she also just corrected me, her race had 5,000 feet of climbing.

The Italians take their sport very seriously. The first 500-600 guys could easily win any Cat 3 race here...some of the old dudes are crazy fast.
 

· duh...
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bigpinkt said:
The Italians take their sport very seriously. The first 500-600 guys could easily win any Cat 3 race here...some of the old dudes are crazy fast.


those old guys are ridiculous, once they get going those Sun rides are balls out
 

· Non non normal
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This is an awesome ride and trip report. Keep up the good stuff for us. I wish to keep visiting Italy through your posts.
 

· merckxman
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Granfondos

"When I lived in Italy back in the early 90’s Grandfondos were the low end of the cycling food chain, Most old fat guys out for a Sunday cruise...now they are huge."

I have done many granfondos over the last 3 years. I'm sorry I wasn't here in the 90s which you describe. Now you have ex-dopers like Rumsas winning in these granfondos. There was one recently where a pro pulled a non-pro so the latter could win. They have doping controls now at some. There are a few granfondos springing up that aren't timed at all...like the old days.

I enjoy them...but forget about winning anything. There are SO MANY monster strong guys...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
GF are the perfect competitive outlet for me, but I can see how they have gotten too big. I had to laugh seeing all the team cars and RV's. The lead women all had teams of guys around them pulling them and holding bottles. Most of the bigger teams had helpers with bottles stationed in the feeds so their riders did not have to stop. I love the feed zones. The competitiveness is really crazy in some of the big ones. Granted I did not push it hard but getting beat by 1000 riders was a bit of a blow to the ego. My wife had fun in the Medio, met some cool guys from Venice to ride with.

I think that Rolf Sorenson puts on an event in Gaiole that is un-timed (They call it a French start), depending on the date I will do it prior to the Campagnolo next year....and of course there is the L'eroica, someday I will have to do that. Aid stations with ham and wine, can't get better then that.
 

· GeoCyclist
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Grandfondo ?

This type of racing looks very interesting to me. Are these races open to anyone? Would a non Italian speaker have trouble getting signed up and competing? How does one find out where / when these races are held?

Great posts! I'm ready to jump on a plane and fly to Italy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
GeoCyclist said:
This type of racing looks very interesting to me. Are these races open to anyone? Would a non Italian speaker have trouble getting signed up and competing? How does one find out where / when these races are held?

Great posts! I'm ready to jump on a plane and fly to Italy!
Yes, open for all. I was never asked for my racing license but I think that some require it.
Here is a good list of races with links
http://www.dalzero.it/elencogranfondo2008/gran_fondo_ciclismo_2008.htm

Most you can enter on line, using a translation tool to understand what they are asking. Not too hard to pick up your number the day before. Great fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That is just a sample of the better ones, Pick up GF magazine next time you are in Italia...it is thicker then Bicisport.
 

· GeoCyclist
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Thanks for the Info and link

bigpinkt said:
Yes, open for all. I was never asked for my racing license but I think that some require it.
Here is a good list of races with links
http://www.dalzero.it/elencogranfondo2008/gran_fondo_ciclismo_2008.htm

Most you can enter on line, using a translation tool to understand what they are asking. Not too hard to pick up your number the day before. Great fun.
This is something that I’m going to look into. I can fly up to Italy in a couple of hours. So doing a weekend GF wouldn’t be out of the question.

Ride On
 

· merckxman
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Maratona dles Dolomites

This granfondo is always over subscribed and riders are chosen by a lottery system. Foreignershave a better chance to get in. It's consider the, or one of the, most beautiful granfondos in Europe. Held in the Dolomites the scenery is just absolutely incredible (although if you are going all out you may not see much of it). The registration process starts around September/October for the event which is held in late June/early July. The official website is www.maratona.it

here are my blog entries from last year, 6 parts:
http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-i.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-ii.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-iii.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-iv.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-v.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-vi.html






GeoCyclist said:
This is something that I’m going to look into. I can fly up to Italy in a couple of hours. So doing a weekend GF wouldn’t be out of the question.

Ride On
 

· GeoCyclist
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Thanks for sharing!

merckxman said:
This granfondo is always over subscribed and riders are chosen by a lottery system. Foreignershave a better chance to get in. It's consider the, or one of the, most beautiful granfondos in Europe. Held in the Dolomites the scenery is just absolutely incredible (although if you are going all out you may not see much of it). The registration process starts around September/October for the event which is held in late June/early July. The official website is www.maratona.it

here are my blog entries from last year, 6 parts:
/QUOTE]

Great ride report, and insight into riding a Granfondo.

Okay, the Maratona Granfondo looks like a real treat. Only problem I have is the long pre registration period. Due to my work I have trouble planning anything more than six weeks in advance. Last November I made plans for a Trans Pyrenees ride this June. Since November I’ve had to reschedule two jobs (-$$$$) to make the Trans Pyrenees ride happen. It looks like this will be my biggest set back in doing a Granfondo.
 

· merckxman
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Biggest ones

I've listed the largest granfondos for last year (the list was made in October so it may miss a couple of end of the season ones) below.

Bigger doesn't mean better but it does reflect, at least, popularity.

Registration isn't typically difficult but I would say that you should have a doctor's note saying that you are fit for competitive cycling. Without such a note the organizer may limit you to the short course (there are typically 3 course: short of about 70Km, medium 100Km, and long 140Km+).




GF Nove Colli 9,517 particpants
Maratona dles Dolomites 7,204
GF Selle Italia 3,592
GF Pinarello 3,508
GF Felice Gimondi 3,119
Dieci Colli Bolognesi 2, 683
GF Marco Pantani 2,536
GF Campagnolo 2,532
L'Eroica 2,300 (participants)
Citta della Spezia 2,201
GF del Prosecco 1,950
GF Damiano Cunego 1,906
GF della Versillia 1,656
Pedalando Con... 1,646
GF Colnago 1,626
GF Gianni Bugno 1,614
Bra-Bra 1,581
GF Dolci Terre di Novi 1,568
Giro Valli Monregalesi 1,559
GF delle Cinque Terre 1,437
GF Liotto-Valdagno 1, 359


[/QUOTE]
Great ride report, and insight into riding a Granfondo.

Okay, the Maratona Granfondo looks like a real treat. Only problem I have is the long pre registration period. Due to my work I have trouble planning anything more than six weeks in advance. Last November I made plans for a Trans Pyrenees ride this June. Since November I’ve had to reschedule two jobs (-$$$$) to make the Trans Pyrenees ride happen. It looks like this will be my biggest set back in doing a Granfondo.[/QUOTE]
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
merckxman said:
This granfondo is always over subscribed and riders are chosen by a lottery system. Foreignershave a better chance to get in. It's consider the, or one of the, most beautiful granfondos in Europe. Held in the Dolomites the scenery is just absolutely incredible (although if you are going all out you may not see much of it). The registration process starts around September/October for the event which is held in late June/early July. The official website is www.maratona.it

here are my blog entries from last year, 6 parts:
http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-i.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-ii.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-iii.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-iv.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-v.html

http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/07/2007-maratona-dles-dolomites-part-vi.html

I did not realize that was your blog, I check it often.
 

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The Gran Fondos have for the most part gotten out of hand. My own preference is for Cyclosportives in France. Fewer people, better atmosphere ... well, except the the Etape and the Marmotte. This year I'm doing the Look, the Ventoux, possibly the Vaujany, the Etape, the Auvergnate, the Louis Pasteur and the Cyclauto. I know Big P is going to do the Marmotte as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
philippec said:
The Gran Fondos have for the most part gotten out of hand. My own preference is for Cyclosportives in France. Fewer people, better atmosphere ... well, except the the Etape and the Marmotte. This year I'm doing the Look, the Ventoux, possibly the Vaujany, the Etape, the Auvergnate, the Louis Pasteur and the Cyclauto. I know Big P is going to do the Marmotte as well.
If you are doing the Vaujany let me know, should have some space in our apartment right near the finish. Great course...except for that final climb. Ouch

I am split on the GF. Great courses, feeds, and challenging competition, But some take it a bit too seriously, that is the same reason I do not race masters here. Bunch of 40 year old guys with no life. After spending 10 years of my early life focused on nothing but racing, training, and traveling I have an aversion to seriousness.
 
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