It’s hard to believe I’m once again back in Italy in the AIS team house. It feels as if I only left yesterday and the only real give away that it wasn’t just yesterday is the vast difference in the seasons. When I was here last June it was sunny and hot and we were complaining of not being able to sleep in our rooms at night as they were like saunas. This time round we have the heaters on, are sleeping under doonas at night and during the day are riding in our cold kit.
Every morning we head out for a ride at around 9am and have to spend about 20 minutes kitting up. Most mornings I wear an undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, fleece long sleeve top, vest, leg warmers, thick socks, shoe covers, long finger gloves and ear warmers. After putting all this gear on we finally roll out and pretty much manage to stay warm for the rest of the days ride depending on whether it’s 7 or 10 degrees. Pretty cold for a brissy girl! If you head up a climb you generally end up sweating and hot, then coming down the climb you once again end up cold as you have a wet shirt on your back and the wind in your face!
It’s still great riding though and it’s amazing how different things look compared to last summer. The trees are mostly bald with some of the early flowers like tulips, starting to pop out. The days tend to be a little more grey and foggy. If you’re lucky enough to get a really clear day you can see some of the near by mountaintops covered in snow which is really pretty.
After three or four days of being in Italy we had our first day race. Cittiglio was a tough 8 lap course of 15km with 160 starters. Things got off to a good start and the race was fast from the beginning.
There were two short but tough climbs in the race and two solid downhills. The course was made especially tough as you needed to have good positioning to make the front pack as riders were popping and losing wheels all over the shop. Apparently my positioning wasn’t quite good enough when on the final lap, we were strung out and a rider around 8 wheels up lost a wheel and a whole bunch of girls were dropped from the front. I was with this group who lost around 50 meters in the space of 1 second.
It was a good but harsh lesson about just how quickly you can lose touch with a pack, making your race all over. After the race we came home and went out for a pizza and ate a crostada that I made the morning of the race. Crostada is a sort of Italian jam pie and it’s pretty tasty if you get it right. Unfortunately my Italian is pretty non existent so I didn’t know which flour to buy and we didn’t have measuring cups or scales so the crostada was a little slapped together. It seemed to turn out ok though, so we got into the spirit of Italian food and celebrated after the completion of our first race. After another couple of days training and living in Italy we’re heading off to Belgium for three weeks and around 4-5 races. It should be a tough time as we compete in some of the most famous `classic’ cycling races such as Flanders and Fleche Wallone.
Crostada - Yum.