Saturday, 3 July 2010

Castelli 24 Hour ... a weekend fun fest

At first the idea seems a little absurd, crazy almost an English folly. A 24 hour critrieum race in many ways is, but it has to go down as one of the best events I have attended.

The circuit itself was just around 2 km in length, but unlike many it has multiple changes in gradient with a short climb coming straight after the pavé. Other stretches of note is the even shorter descent with it's hairpin corner flowing onto it's long straight which then leads onto the pavé section and so the procedure starts again. Wow just writing it I feel tired all over again. We where in a Team of eleven riders (it should have been 12) & it was split into 5 English, 1 Ozzie, 3 Spanish & 1 Portugeezer and we made up the Castelli World Team (which for a chipper like me was quite a honour).

Camilla (Castelli's lovely & friendly Marketing Lady) has already put the riding roster together, which probably saved more time than any of could imagine. My little trio of Dave Everett, Richard Mardle & myself would do the first stint from 10-1am! As it was still around in the mid twenties is was plenty warm, and with only 4 hours sleep the night before I was amazed I was still awake.

Dave went off first & set a blistering pace & stayed with the front bunch which included some ringers like Pelizotti & Tosanto (Quick Step), so it was a good start. Next up was Mr Mardle aboard his fully pimped up Felt AR with the big boy 808 wheels on - ouch on the pavé!!! Then me next, the chip shop owner. Nerves mixed with excitement was my energy fuel and certainly helped propell me around my first 45 minute slot. I came off buzzing, excited but in need of a cold drink. Dave went again, pumping the laps out and got so into it I missed my next turn as he was going with the flow - he was on it (caffeine, and lots of it).

Knackered I went to bed and manged to grab 5 1/2 hours of lovely sleep, even though the heat of the day time did not drop much through the evening. Morning came feeling refreshed and down to breakfast. We where up for the same AM slot and the heat was cooking. I am was pleased not to be doing the afternoon slot as the temperature hit the mid thirties - ouch it was hot. I got out did my first bunch of laps and the heat was hitting me like a wall, the course was a little tougher in the daytime. The Team was flying, regardless of my slower laps, and we where in the mid twenties (out of 115 Teams). I went out for my final stint and it nearly killed me. The pace had upped and no matter how much I tried I couldn't get to stay with a big group and only managed to stay with a smaller bunch of riders. On the climb it felt like the air was being sucked out of my lungs, ouch it was painful. My Team mate came down to the pit lane, I think he was hoping me to raise 5 digits to signal how many more laps I would stay out for. I signalled 3, I thought I had about that much left. I finished, knackered but really chuffed as I hadn't raced for some time.

Later on and as the end of race time approached some of Italian Teams pulled out some big guns. Gilberto Simoni was one, who was going like a train. It was seriously impressive to watch and really just shows how fast the Pro's can race. So the Team ended up finishing 26th in the end which was fantastic, even with me on board! I would love to do it again as it was a fantastic experience. As an event it has an amazing mix of carnival, crit race and a Grand Fondo. It is a great event and I am surprised that this format has not taken off and more countries as it's a great one and for sure would translate into any country.

Posted via email from sprintingforsigns's posterous

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