Monday, May 14, 2007
Ranch Arrives - day 2
RidersRanch found there way onto the grid - which owing to early prep - meant numbers 600-2,500 weazeled their way ahead of numbers 2,501 to 6,000. The new jerseys were broken out with only RiderChiChi opting for the ranchbooties. The start moved suprisingly well with a look at the clock showed 2 minutes to cross the start line. As in Italy its all about form and design- the most obscure of italian frame builders had representation somewhere. Ranch looked strong and stayed strong with 5 opting for the grand fondo (165k) and 2 for the short(95.7). RiderTurbo being a sprint triathalon guy and RiderHowe (dont mention my aching back) both turned it on early and cruised away on their respective course. The other 5 chums preceded to hack it out with the other teams on the big one. The Route can be charcterized by a series of long grindy hills, choppy decents, extraordinary panorama's with deep dark walled canyons and high alpine plateaus. For the most part the course was traffic free - well marked with metrics of all climbs clearly posted. One thing that struck me was the freshness of the air - London does bad stuff on that cord - but the damp spring air proved a real energy booster. Having just completed a race in Austria - the Riders stood out as a lot more friendly and talkative en route. Save for one or two moments - the race was remarkably free from attitude with numbers of different groups spending time pulling. The first couple climbs were easily manageable consistent grades of 4-6%. Feed stations were full of stuff - and Ranchers were able to transition in and out well with Eazy-E and RiderCali being the mules for banana's and refilling bottles. We found the tempo strong on the flats with consistent late 30's early 40's - kph - to be had with most guys sharing the load. The climbs were more of a free-for-all and here we were a little unsure of the course. The 20k climb contained a false summit - but was very doable staying in the 21 ring for most. Coming out of that decent we had a strong flat ride where just as we were finding our pace - brought us to a 9.5k climb which was a dandy. I dont think i have suffered that much on a climb - through cramps and exhaustion - but the team really held together and we summited together. At that stage of the race to put a consistent 7% climb with stretches of 10-12% is just mean - dont think i left my bail out gear which is a 26 and with a compact. Noticing riders wrapped in blankets at the side of the road - this climb has its own death toll. The decent was rough which i for one struggled with - but the ranch found itself together for the last 30k into bergamo. It was quite a site as our peleton showed the ranch train all at the front pulling into the town. With big engine chichi pounding away we cruised with that feeling of a job well done. On that day - we won.