March madness

Lucy Coldwell | Saturday 5th April, 2014

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After a dreich start to racing on the Belgian cobbles at the beginning of a weeks racing in March, we were lucky to see a change for the warmer weather. A stark contrast to the wintry conditions twelve months before, while I was still sunning myself on Ozzy shores! Thank goodness I didn't have to experience the pain of the frozen eyeballs I heard tales of from the previous spring classic racing.

I completed four races in 8 days in the first Belgium trip, a sure way to fire some intensity into my training, and experience everything Belgium has to offer. Punctures, crashes, cobbles, crosswinds, gutter action, and plenty of pushing a shoving was a common theme to these races. It was a great fun week, learning all the way. Seeing Belgium at this time of year was a massive treat, the atmosphere was electric with great crowds at the races, people shouting, ringing bells, and cheering you on. The locals just love bike racing, and it feels pretty special to be part of it all!

At the end of the week it was a quick turaround back to the UK, before next destination Italy, little did we know what was in store. With some time to kill before heading to our hotel, we clambered onto a private water taxi true James Bond style were whisked through the magnificent waterways to the infamous St Marco Square. It sure was a sight and we were smiling all the way.

We later arrived at our Hotel, in the mountains of the prosecco region, Hotel Ca'del Poggio. After a divine dinner, sampling the local tipple- of course Prosecco and a much needed sleep, we had the next morning to relax and enjoy the immense views over the rolling hills below. Life sure ain't bad as a cyclist sponsored by an Italian pasta company!

Back to the office quicksmart that afternoon, after some photos in the Gondola perched on the hillside! First training ride in the Italian mountains sure was beautiful, my legs just seemed to be on Italian time- a bit too relaxed and in slow motion, today I was the tortoise that wasn't going to catch the hare, at least there was no racing today!

Our next stop was to where we would call home for the rest of the week, an old fashioned flat, full of character in the old town of Vittorio Veneto. We would use this as our base for training in the region for the rest of the week.. While the others raced I had a solo ride exploring the region, and found an amazing road with tunnels through the mountain as you reached the top of a climb. What a spectacle over the summit to find snow lined mountains as far as the eye could see, it sure did take my breath away. With the cobwebs well and truly blown away after a day in the moutains I was ready to tackle some tough training once again!

It was literally an electrifying ride home, as I heard the rumbles of thunder, and then suddenly the skies turned black, a massive downpour of rain. I was riding in a river, could hardly see two feet in front and there were lightning bolts darting in front of my eyes every few minutes! I was pretty scared, but part of me loved the experience at the time, I just hoped the others weren't racing in this weather!!

Phew I made it home, sodden and squelched my way up the stairs to a long hot shower, a fluffy towel, and a mug of warm tea, Bliss!

There's something magical about riding in the mountains anywhere in the world, and I sure did fall in love with Vittorio Veneto! Of course the Italians do coffee so well, and as another of my favourite things in the world, we did become very frequented with the local coffee shop. It was always the same friendly Barista serving us, such a welcoming lady, I just hope to go back and visit someday soon! Just need to brush up on my Italian!

Sad to leave, the trip seemed to be over very quickly, back to London, Shropshire, 48hrs restbite and then back through Le Tunnel en route to Belgium once again. This time for Gent Wevelgem, another cobbled, leg sapping, lung busting race! It was a great day for the team with Claire Thomas riding a great race getting herself into the decisive break on the final lap, and coming 8th place. Big smiles all round, and some confidence for the team as we progress through the season!








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