Well Italy is pretty great. It’s so different from Australia yet up here in the North, the people are warm and welcoming, probably more so than at home. I have indulged in many many $1Euro espresso (um, is it bad to say that I think my Australian espresso is better!?) had the best gelati I have ever eaten, and the best pizza I have eaten, too.
My very limited Italian is becoming slightly less limited, to the point where I can recognise all the pizza menu ingredients. Very handy when you’re hungry. But that’s about it. For the first few days any time someone talked to me I would defect to the European language I have a little knowledge of: German, with the occasional French phrase thrown in.
Very funny how the brain mixes them all together.
My initial experiences of the trails over here have been great, but very challenging. Well, you don’t go halfway across the world for nothing, and I can affirm that the trails are Epic. I have built a hardtail for the race, which features 3600m vertical in 98km, but regret the decision each time the trail turns downhill. Most of it is ok, really, but there are a few long fireroad and singletrack descents which are just out of control: steep like nothing we have in Australia; one line, littered with large chunky rocks. Oh and at least a -30% incline. Just madness. You come off the line (as you sometimes invariably do toting around a 9kg 100m travel hardtail) and you are off in the bush, off a cliff, or madly tripoding trying to find your way back on the right line. Or running. I didn’t count on running down any fireroads during the race so fingers crossed I have a smooth run come race day!
The climbs are absolutely epic, but I definitely factored the epic-ness of this into my training. Obviously a long way off the Gunn-Rita’s of the world, but I am feeling strong for the AB in my world. The first climb is an absolute groveller; it’s 4k long and averages about a million percent. For those of you who know where I live, imagine 4k’s of my road and you will get the picture. Oh and it’s dirt. Apparently it’s one of the nastiest (I have ridden all but two, and can attest from what I have ridden, that it is the meanest so far!) so I suppose good to get it over with early!
A kind-of luge-descent on a rail meanders past you with people joyously enjoying their lack of energy expenditure, as you’re trying not to die, 5km into the race, bike fucking at 25%. It’s the stuff sore backs are made of.
No rest for the wicked, as you pelt down the fireroad trying not to burn out your brakes, or ping pong into the scree and die. But I am ready for it for sure!
With the potential for incoming rain the next few days, it could get really interesting with the sketchy, wet trails in the closing km’s of the race. The singletrack is steep, wet, rooty and unforgiving. It’s a hang on and slide it out kind of experience. But once again, I signed up for an epic adventure (perhaps not as epic as this is going to be, though!) so I am ready to fight.
And try not to die on the fireroad.
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Gianni, Manolo's dad, doesn't know a shred of English. I speak a tiny bit of German and know some french words but Italian? No. Yet this guy has dragged me around most of the race course, pinning it on his Enduro E bike. . . I wish I had an Enduro E bike! . . #dolomites #xcm #worldchamps #italy
Hooray for not dying!