Race day in a Giro town is a crazy thing. The night before was all sorts of busy, with a party going on pretty much throughout the night. The day of is intense as well. In pro bike racing, they don't start until later in the day, and for the Giro that means they kick off at about 1 pm. Lucky them, I guess I just need to get better so I can race later than 8 am.
I met a pair of twins who owned a clothing shop in town (I asked where to go for the start and they took me under their wing after they found out I was American). Mariapia and Mariarosa were their names and they kept on telling me how Spilimbergo is an important town and such, more so than a lot of the others towns hosting a stage.
They did feed me some pizza, so I was cool with that. The funny thing about these two though, was as soon as they found out that I was American and had my bike with me, they made it their personal mission to get me interviewed on tv.
Being a little advanced with age, I don't think they realize how tv works, and that a kid from America with his bike in Italy is really not such a big deal to people who are taping a race that is older than almost everyone watching. That and the fact that in bike racing, and especially the Grand Tours, what I am doing is fairly common.
I didn't tell them this however, and spent the day amused as they tried in frustration to get me on tv. I was their project and it was interesting. They ultimately failed, but it was fun watching them try, and at least they had good intentions with it.
The race started under perfect conditions and it was really cool being able to stand that close to all of these famous cycists. After the way too short event of the race departure, I headed back to the Maria's shop and got my bike and things so I, too could take off.
My ride that day was to Monte Zoncolan, the finish point of the next day's stage. I ended up going a little ways away to the town of Ampezzo, because it started raining on me and I needed to find a hotel instead of sleeping in the wilderness.
I was able to get a hotel and sleep for the evening, and headed to Zoncolan on the morning. Let me say this: Zoncolan is a beast. The climb is 10 kilometers long, and the "easy" parts of the climb are at 8% grade. I can't tell you how many times I looked at my computer and it read 14% though, so it was steep. After it was all said and done, the highest percent it got up to was 17%.
Needless to say, since I am out of shape, there were many stops up the mountain. I made it about 150 meters from the top before I had to walk my bike due to the ridiculous amount of people clogging the road. At 25 meters from the finish, they had closed off the road for the finish, so I didn't even get to make it to the top. It was okay though, the climb was awesome regardless.
I had to wait around for about 4 hours before the race got up the mountain, so I took a nap like any good Spaniard would, and got a bit of food from the tents selling sandwiches and such. By the time the race got to us, it had started raining and hailing, which was not comfortable at all.
I was able to talk one of the guards into letting me use his other jacket, since I was only wearing my cycling clothes and nothing warm at all. In doing so, I looked like one of the members of the squad that keeps spectators from running onto the road as the racers pass by. I love how the Europeans don't really care about anything. I got to join their group just by asking.
It was really cool, the other guards and I couldn't understand each other, but still had a great time. I got to link arms as the racers came by, which I would normally not like because I would rather take pictures, but since it was hailing I didn't get to use my camera anyway.
It was a long, cold, and miserable walk/ride down the mountain after the race was over, but I enjoyed the whole day. Time to go back to the hotel and let my legs recover for the next day.