I hoped to be bringing you news of a new speed record today but alas (poor Yorick) I failed miserably. Maybe my record of 44mph over in the States last year will never be beat – in fact it is quite possible as we all know, America is the worlds best at everything.
Yesterday I went on a recce in the Sport. I have been riding the ridges and valleys in and around Genoa since I got here, looking for something interesting to blitz. So far, I have found little of interest. Despite the terrain, the Italians have failed to grasp the potential of the great outdoors with one exception that I found last week, a ‘not very challenging’ ridge ride and drop into the valley. If they weren’t so busy baking bread and eating ice cream they would realise how much potential the hills surrounding Genoa have for outdoor adventure types like me and you. If nothing else, the extra tourism would increase the sales of ice cream.
Last week, looking across the valley to the next peak, I noticed the scar of a road winding its way up the side of the mountain until it disappeared over the top and out of sight. Looking at it, the climb was going to be a mofo but of course every cyclist knows, for every hill you climb, there is an equal descent. In the Sport, I climbed into the clouds and out the top of them all in a matter of minutes. In the cloud, plenty of understeer on the hairpins due to the moisture and also the constant passing of quarry trucks but something told me this had potential. My altimeter suggested 2000 feet at the top and that was enough for me to set my alarm for 07:00 this morning.
Just after 9am, I was away, an easy warm up out towards the airport and then behind Ikea (where I also noticed a squash club) and then, the left hand turn off the main road left me facing directly at the hill I was about to climb, better still, those switchbacks were in front of me, calling me like a classic old italian movie. I counted around a dozen before I made my first turn that put them out of sight behind me.
I can always measure the intensity of a route by the gears I need to use. Now, a hard run out with Brownie and Poopie Pants, I might occasionally grab the little gears on the front ring but mainly for off road climbs, a middle ring is the order of the day. Fast on road stuff is big ring only. Within 10 minutes of turning off the main road, I was on the little gear and stayed that way for the next hour. Looking up at the next 10 hairpins was a little disheartening but always being safe in the knowledge that I would soon be belting back down.
Near the summit, the road was still damp and slippery where the sun was trying to get to it, these bends would need maximum respect on my nobbly tyres especially as the Sport was sliding around the day before. I made a mental note of the bends that were still wet so that I didn’t do anything stupid on the way into them.
At the top, a small pause for a pee, change into a dry shirt (nothing worse than wind chill in a sweat soaked shirt) and some gaitor aid to help replace those precious fluids, a few quick photos and then I gloved up, popped on my fluffy hat and sunnies and headed off.
Very quickly, I was thankful for the change into a dry shirt, the wind chill was 100% nipple. The fluffy hat doing its job and I was peddling like a mentalist. It wasn’t long before I was wishing for taller gearing and cursing that I was missing an opportunity to go faster but then, I hit the wet bends. Not a weird sexual fetish you understand, but those extremely greasy bends I encountered the day before in the 4×4.
I survived thankfully, onto the switchbacks, fast descents and hard hairpins with convex mirror on their outer apex. As my confidence grew, I started using the mirrors to get a view of the upcoming road, if I could see it was clear, I could use both lanes on the bend and carry more speed. A little nervy even by my standards, barreling towards a hairpin with armco and a death drop on the other side and your focus is on a small convex mirror instead of your braking points – it just makes it a little more heart stopping and that is good if you are a forty something adrenaline junkie.
As fast as it was, it just wasn’t fast enough – my maximum speed of just 37mph (60kph) is still a solid 7mph off my record (FFS – I managed 32mph in the Forest in Brussels on the dirt). Some of you might be thinking ‘that’s fast enough old timer’ but I am thinking ‘maybe a road bike would be faster ?’
The problem being, straight sections not long enough between mentally tight hairpins means constant deceleration was damaging my speed record attempt. So I remain in search of a route (or bike) that will allow me to pass through the 45mph barrier and maybe into the 50’s. I do know of one in the Alps bu tit is a motorway, and I would need someone to drive my car behind me.
I took a couple of photos on the climb up, the switchbacks have to be seen. I will add them to the photo section a little later this evening under ‘Sport d’Italia’ feel free to take a look.
The link below should take you to the runkeeper page
Congratulations to my older sister for completing a 5k race today – ‘it’s all for charity mate!’
December 16th, 2013 at 17:16
Prefer Big Sis to older but thanks for the mention!