Friday, 20 June 2008

Verona, and Epic Camp commences

Sunday 8th June 2008.
Epic Camp, day 1

Starts with a short run around the city. Steven and I had been out for a jog the previous evening and were able to show the group a nice route along the river and through the old town. The pace was very easy and there was a bit of a chance to chat with the other guys on the camp. Next, a swim time trial – in a fantastic 8 lane, 50m outdoor pool, directly across the street from our hotel. The water was cold enough that the use of wetsuits was allowed, though those choosing this soft option would be heavily penalised - 6 seconds per 100m!! If only the benefit were that great. I didn’t expect perform exceptionally and win any competition points anyway, so I took the opportunity of a bit of practice at swimming hard in neoprene. My TT time was 32:20 (1:40/100m) – so I can’t figure where those 6 min went!! I was glad that I’d not been the slowest swimmer though.

We set off on bikes (mine complete with newly purchased Fulcrum rear wheel - we finally found an excellent, knowledgeable and well stocked bike shop – if only that had been the first recommendation that we’d had!) for a ride up the east side of lake Garda to Trento where we’d be staying for 2 nights. Trento is a medium sized town in the foothills of the Dolomites, and today’s journey would be the last bit of flat riding we’d be doing for a while! After a ‘neutralized’ ride out of town (and puncture, within 200m of departure!) the pace set off pretty fast. To be expected as everyone is trying to impress and vying for their position in the group. A bit quicker than I was comfortable riding but by ensuring that I rode in a sensible position in the bunch which did not subject me to too many surges, my fresh legs were able to handle it. Unfortunately, as is typical riding through traffic and towns, these surges are inevitable and will take their toll on the weaker riders, and so I found myself migrating toward the back of the bunch. I find this an extremely tough place to ride as the change in pace is magnified, calling for constant breaking and accelerating which would take it out of my legs, for sure. We’d been issued maps and I decided to let the bunch go and ride alone at a steadier pace, anticipating that this would be a theme for the coming 8 days!

A short while later I come across one of the guys, Jonathan, who has hung back for me. A very kind gesture and it gave a chance to get to know him a little. I do suspect that perhaps he was feeling the pace a little himself and glad of a face saving excuse to drop back! We rode on together, sharing the work until meeting the rest of the group at a feed stop 11km out of Trento. We’d be riding this last stretch of road as a time trial, for competition points. I didn’t take note of my time, or placing in this ‘event’, but worked solidly, quickly caught my ’30 second man’ and gather it was a suitably impressive performance going by complimentary remarks made afterwards.

We had a bit more food on arrival I Trento, and since it was still early in the afternoon, Steven and I took the opportunity to get a long run done, whilst our legs were fresh enough to enjoy it! I was running really well, so well infact that Steven told me to just run on ahead, as he’d hoped to run for 2.5 hours and wouldn’t get through it ‘at that pace’. 19 miles later, on our return eyebrows were raised at our ‘bold move’…but it paid off – and Steven was so chuffed to be awarded the Pink Jersey after day 1.

The talk at dinner this evening was friendly but unsettled and frequently returned to the subject of previous shared experiences and common friends of those already well aquatinted through previous camps. To be expected I suppose but a little isolating for those outside this group….though it’s clear that certain characters are being more reserved than usual until the ‘pecking order’ is better established between the pack.

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