The Italian Singlespeed championships took place last weekend in Sovico in Northern Italy. Alpkit had been invited by Paolo Zorloni of Zeta Bike Components, a local company that designs and machines it's own components.
I rolled up Friday evening, had a beer placed in my hand, my chainring swapped over, a light strapped to my bike and before I knew it I was joining a group of 25 geared and singlespeed riders for a night ride through Parco Lambro. Of course we had to wait for the rain to start before we could set off.
There was food and drinks ready for us when we got back around midnight and it was a good chance to meet some of the other riders. I was sure out of all the participants no one would have driven further than me, but it was a close call.. a pair from Sicily had driven just 200 fewer kilometres.
Saturday saw the fine weather return and 30 riders headed out for a tour of Brianza following a route that connected the small villages via footpaths, gravel tracks and steep slopes. We stopped at the Parco di Montevecchia for lunch and sampled the locally brewed Assiria beer and cheese. For those who still had space ice cream was offered courtesy of the house.
The return to Sovico followed a slightly more mellow route giving our bloated stomachs a reprieve. The terrain was lush and green, heavy rainfall in the days prior to the event meant that the trails were also muddy. No stranger to a patch of mud I hoped it would give me an advantage on Sunday!
Sunday was race day and the atmosphere in the 'area spettacoli' had changed noticeably. People were making last minute adjustments to their bikes, incredibly of the 80 or so competitors I don't think I saw 2 bikes alike.
The start line was a short ride away and we set out together quickly passed by the bustle of a local road race. Serenity resumed near Rancate and as we stood around waiting for everyone to arrive we began to wonder what little surprise the organisers had in store for us. Luckily it was nothing as severe as hidden bikes or front wheels hanging from trees.. the mass start simply involved removing helmet and one shoe.. we had got off lightly.
We set off around the 8km loop. There was no obligation to do more than one lap, but those taking it a bit more seriously did the full 3 loops. The team on a tandem retired after one, failing to make it past the fully stocked beer tent, refuelled I think they continued on single bikes. The course was undulating, comprising of gravel tracks, singletrack, grassy paths, muddy descents and slippery climbs. I was feeling strong after lap 2 but by the third the power had been drained from my legs and I was struggling to keep up with the small group I had been lapping with. The finishing line finally reappeared lined with a small group of smiling faces, waving hands and cheering calls.
As I sat in the ambulance getting the mud and sweat cleared out of my eyes, beer in hand, I was glad I had been here to experience it.
Returning to Sovico the organisers provided food and drink for all. The 'winners' were presented with their awards and the proposals for the location of next years event were made. We had our very own presentation - the ASS Award to see who would win a Stingray framebag.
A really well organised event by a truly passionate team of friends.. and a great place to have experienced my first race. Next stop the worlds in Cogne?!