Okay so I promised I would make you jealous. Prepare.
The past few days I've been making some excursions out to the mountains east of Roma. They're fairly far away so it's hard to cram too many climbing adventures into a single weekend, but I get there when I can.
The first one I did took me away from the coast on Via Cristoforo Colombo, toward Rome, past the remains of some seriously ancient (and still functional!) Roman aqueducts, and up the first climb of the day to Castel Gandolfo.
This is the summer home of the Popes, and it was...nice. I then rode around the rim of the series of mountains which surround a nice lil' lake, through hillsides covered in grapevines, and into Frascati. From there, I headed up toward the mountain's peak, which had some pretty awesome ancient Roman ruins. Here's a Map My Ride ride map of the ride I did which I then mapped using Map My Ride:
Then, today I went for a little jaunt with a few other gents who I recently befriended on the roads (my Italian is getting much better). We headed down the coast on the Lungomare to Torvaianica and then cut inland and kept going. The roads got progressively steeper until we reached the edges of a town called Lanuvio, at which point the switchbacks began. Awesome. Here is another map of my ride which I mapped using Map My Ride:
Next Up: A friend of mine has promised to drive us out to Chieti, so we can ride to the climb at Blockhaus on the course used on Stage 17 of this year's Giro d'Italia! Pumped!
I love bike racing to death, but sometimes the off-season is so damn good. It feels awesome to just jump on the bike and go for a ride without thinking about watts or time spent pushing the pedals.
Today I woke up at the asscrack of dawn to meet with a group of locals down by the water, but nobody showed. Sweet. In any case my solo ride was pretty fun, heading down the Lungomare, as usual, and then cutting inland to do a loop through Campo Jemelli, along the Autostrada to Torvaianica, and back home on the Lungomare again. It was a nice ride, made even nicer by the fact that drivers here actually respect cyclists. You may not believe this, but I didn't hear a single car horn during my entire time on the road today, and part of my ride even took me on the Autostrada (the equivalent of the MassPike for Romans)!
Unfortunately, I live on the flat side of Rome, about a two hour ride from the mountains, but when I find the motivation to trek out and do some climbing I'll put up a post and make you all feel jealous. For now I've pasted a Map My Ride...uh...map of my ride...in case anybody is interested.
Laura and I have been in Italy for a month now. The following things have happened:
-The airline lost my bike. -The airline found my bike. -The airline delivered my bike. -My bike broke. -I fixed my bike. -My friend's car was broken into in Florence and my clothes and camera were stolen. -We almost burned down the apartment while making hot grappa. -I walked into the leg of a bed and dislocated my toe. -I wrote my first blog entry since starting this trip.
Obviously these events were separated by considerable amounts of awesome traveling, pasta eating, wine drinking, and bike riding, and when my new camera arrives (thanks Adorama...) I'll get some pics up.
Okay, I know it would be an understatement to say that I dropped the ball the last couple of weeks with the (lack of) BU race reports. It's more like I spiked the fuckin' thing in some steroid-induced blind freakout, stabbed it in the neck with a sharpened toothbrush, and then stomped on its slowly dying carcass. It might be too late to make amends, but I'll try anyways by using the next half hour (graciously donated my last college lecture EVER) to rope something together.
Seriously, it's amazing when a race weekend is close to Boston. We met up at 808 Comm. at 6:00 and made the drive out to Hanover, NH in no time. I think this was the latest we've ever left for a weekend, and the earliest we've ever arrived. Sweet. After hitting up Everything But Anchovies (where flimsy silverware engaged in an epic battle with the world's toughest chicken parmesan and we discovered that Kaybles is some sort of idiot savant when it comes to Trivial Pursuit) we headed to our hotel and watched some baseball until it was time for bed.
The next morning we woke up to the greatest continental breakfast ever:
Oh yeah, that's a fresh, hot waffle. And they had one for each of us, so we didn't even have to share! We ate, headed out to the TTT and picked up a few points, and then it was time for some crit action. The weather held up for most of the day (but see, e.g., Shit Weather, infra p. 3), and the BU D squad started us off. Here they are getting some pre-race pointers from Kaybles:
They then proceeded to shred. In a totaly strung-out field, Preston kept it full gas until the end and finished in fourth place (plus some prime points), and Dave Garged his way to a pretty sweet 13th place.
Once again, the most exciting race of the day came from the Intro field, where Rob, some guy dressed as a purple cow, and a rapidly improving Joe Kopena launched a daring attack with four to go.
Rob appeared to be doing most of the work in the lead group, but with one to go he forced the purple cow to pull for a while and used his considerable race smarts to take advantage of the cow's leadout and bring home a big W for BU. Note the teammates freaking out in the background:
Watch out for this guy to be wrecking the D field pretty soon. Seriously. Be afraid.
In the C field, Kyle decided to show of his new ink before commencing domination:
He relished the "oohs" and "ahhs" for a while, and then he and Cass set out. They did some pedaling, and some turning (a lot of turning, actually), and at some point they did this:
They managed to avoid crashing into a lake and finished up mid-pack.
It was then time for the A race, and wouldn't ya know it, the rain that had been threatening all day decided to come down. This made for a super cold and very dirty race, involving lots of spitting, eye-wiping, and shaking. Here we are trying not to freeze to death:
The course was super fun, and Natan finished up in 8th, while I was a somewhat disappointing 14th. I then freaked out on Rob for no good reason, took my jacket, and commenced a 20 minute session of violent shivering in front of the car's heat vents, while Natan posed for some pretty awesome dirt-beard photos:
We went to dinner where Garg and Cass consumed a large pizza covered in approximately 3.6 pigs worth of pig, and then went back to the hotel and did laundry, watched some baseball, and went to bed.
The next day we repeated breakfast and headed out to the road race course which had been completely blanketed in mist:
Awesome, but it burned off real quick and we were forced to race with some actual visibility, which totally took all the fun out of it. Here are the D guys staging:
This was their longest road race ever, and they both seemed pretty pumped. Garg was especially pumped, as he had brought a couple of leftover slices of coronary lover's pizza from the night before, and promised to eat them mid-race if he was dropped. They started out strong, and Preston was in good position until the final climb when he dropped a chain and finished up in 25th. Garg did indeed have an opportunity to eat his pizza, but stuck in there until the finish and still stomped a good portion of the field.
In the Intro field, Rob wasn't all that confident about his odds in the road race. That's because Rob doesn't fancy himself much of a climber. However, Rob proved himself wrong by finishing up in 6th place, just outside of points. He then scurried off to join Joe Kopena for some additional touring of the road course.
Cass was our only C rider for the day, since Kaybles had to get back to Boston to have his tattoo removed. This guy is one hell of a strong climber, but due to undisclosed problems he didn't have the opportunity to unleash his vertical fury and ended up with a strong pack finish.
I don't have any pics of the A race, but here is a random feed zone photo:
I'm pretty sure that's the C field, but I could be wrong.
Anyways, the A race started out slow. Real slow. Steven Pingree from Army headed off the front early, and we all sat up and waived bon voyage. He was followed shortly thereafter by a UConn rider and a rider from Connecticut College. Again, the field was content to let 'em go, and after a lap or two a UVM guy meandered off the front solo.
Enjoying the sunny day, we rolled along in cruise control and although Natan and I put in some solid attacks, nobody else appeared to want to work. Nobody wanted to work, that is, until two laps to go, when Derek from Army and a rider from UVM attacked right after the feed zone. I bridged up to these two, and we were joined shortly thereafter by a Cornell rider. We did a lot of work that lap to get the gap up, eventually caught the UConn and Connecticut College riders and the solo UVM rider, dropped both UVM riders, and headed into the final climb as a group of three. After fighting it out on the climb, I ended up with a third place finish behind Pingree (who we never did catch) and Derek. Natan, who had been aiding the UVM/Army blocking effort back in the main field, hammered it up the last climb and finished in 9th.
All in all, this was a great weekend for BU Cycling. We were 6th in the weekend omnium, and we picked up some solid points toward qualifying for the rapidly approaching Nationals weekend. Look out for the red and white at X-Pot!
Tyler Hamilton, member of professional cycling team Rock Racing and current American road champion, has tested positive for banned steroid Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in an out-of-competition control.
Hamilton, leading a breakaway in the 2009 American Road Championships
Hamilton admitted to knowingly taking the banned substance, which was contained in a supplement intended to treat depression. "I took a banned substance so I need to take whatever penalty they will give me and move forward," Hamilton said.
Hamilton addresses the media following the announcement of his positive control
Asked what he will do following the announcement of his positive test, Hamilton said "I will retire immediately from cycling and pursue my true calling - cleaning out dirty vaginas. I mean, seriously, I'm a total douchebag. Didn't you guys notice before now?"