Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Weekend with Sportful

Seven months working for C3 Products, UK distributor of Sportful, it's no time at all..... I would compare those 7 months to the first season of a neo pro, you're still figuring things out, everything is new, everything exciting. Like every job it has its good days and not so good.

But for one memory packed weekend in May, it was spectacular and for that reason I’d like to share a few highlights, with you. A weekend in Fonzaso, Italy, home of Sportful.

Fast forward to the moment when I get handed my kit bag, its waiting in the hotel room, my name attached (that's pretty PRO in my books - Rich). Like the first training camp of the season, I find myself in the enviable position of being issued with a full set of Saxo Bank kit, we’re talking gillet through to track mitts!! Lack of ability, somewhat quashed childhood dreams of being the next Maurizio Fondriest but I can assure you, at that precise moment I felt like I’d just signed a contract with Bjarne Riis!

Fast forward to the first espresso, a mere 20km into the bike ride and we’re stopping for coffee, this is Italy and who am I to argue. The sun is out, everyone is in good spirits. Steve Smith (Sportful brand manager), a man who can recall all the names in the pro peloton, translates the Gazzetta, it sure makes up for not reading Cyclingnews that morning! 

Photo above - Wanabe Saxo Bank Pro with Steve Smith (Sportful Brand Manager)

Fast forward to the moment when I’m riding one of my favorite climbs, the Monte Grappa. A climb that has the perfect ingredients, the perfect blend of gradients, tunnels, sweeping bends and incredible views. But its not the geographical features of this climb that make it special this morning. Complete contentment, sore legs aside, I was perfectly happy to be there. Who’d have thought you’d have to go up a mountain to find that?

Photo above - The Monte Grappa - is that not the most perfect piece of road?

Fast forward to the Zonchalon, close to 7hrs have passed since we left the coach, a roadside lunch has been consumed, laughs have been had, hawds of cycling fans have passed. The wall which was comfortable only a few hours ago is killing us, shifting to find a position thats comfortable, when we know there isn’t one. The rotor blades of the helicopters are getting louder, the noise of the crowd below is audible. The front group passes, Basso, Evans, Scarponi!!! Not a single rider goes by without some kind of encouragement. Then all of a sudden Neil (C3 Products boss) spots Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo) the people around us think we’re crazy, our shouts of encouragement to Basso and Evans were subdued in comparison! Despite the steep gradient, Dan is seated, upper body motionless, as he shares the pace with Nicki Sorenson (Saxo Bank ). He is about to pass us, when he says, and I quote “....I’d love to stop and talk but I'm kinda busy...
I’m sorry but how good is that! To see your mate racing the Giro and the fact he takes the time out to say hello, on a 22% gradient!!! 

Photo Above - Cervelo Test Team Pro, Daniel Lloyd. Picture was taken on the Monte Grappa. Too busy to take a photo on the Zonchalon!

Fast forward to the Monday night, a day of checking out the summer 2011 Spring / Summer line has left us excited for next year but somewhat overloaded with information. We sit in a great big restaurant, surrounded by other distributors, friends of Sportful. Our Italian is poor but the encouragement and effort made by the employees of Sportful mean we’re not left out. Perhaps too much Prosecco has been consumed but I sit back from the conversation and pause for a moment. Imagine working for a company where the people are passionate about product, what they’re doing and most importantly cycling. Is every company in the bike industry like this?

A Special thanks to Mike Cotty for the photos - much appreciated mate! (If you were going for a bike ride with Mike Cotty, wouldn't you want every reason and excuse to slow the guy down?)

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