Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Category: challenges

Se piove l’é maiala

Rain, cold, a bad accident, and the absence of many friends: the Gran Fondo Gallo Nero wasn’t great.

The weekend was saved by Giallu, Zio Stefano, and my parents who decided to drive down to Tuscany for a couple of days. Some things I will remember: the short stay at Bencistà; the ride from Florence to Greve on Saturday (photos below); the lonely house carved inside a castle near Cavriglia; il sabato del villaggio a Greve; l’Osteria Monte Murlo; the fog; Giallu staring out of the window on Sunday morning, pyjamas and mug: ‘It rains again. Well, I guess we can drive back home now. I know a good trattoria in Panzano‘.

And the race? The route was shortened down from 135 km to 85 due to the rain. Besides, it was suspended for about half an hour because of a bad crash. I rode at an average of 28 km/h and finished 334th out of 689 participants in 2:59:15 (3:23:31 counting the half an hour stop in the middle of the road). The organisation was pretty dreadful and I probably won’t sign up again.

 

Gran Fondo Gallo Nero

I have decided to sign up for the 135km Gran Fondo Gallo Nero, which takes place on September 22 in the Chianti.

This will be my fourth Gran Fondo after Strade Bianche, Fiesole, and San Gottardo – provided I eventually manage to participate and complete it. It will also be my third competition of 2019, after the Diagonela and Marcialonga.

I am planning to go with Alvise, Piero, Giallu, and perhaps a few other friends.

Bike rides in Switzerland

I took fifteen minutes of my time to draw a map of Switzerland with the mountain climbs I would like to ride on my bike. Those I have done already have a circle around the dot: Chasseral, Chasseron, San Gottardo, Neufenen, Furka, San Bernardo, Grosse Scheidegg, La Tourne. The others I will hopefully do at some point in the future.

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Marcialonga 2019

After having shared with you the pictures of the Diagonela, I received several private comments from my readers (more than one but less than three). I decided to follow your advice: I wore a different hat for the Marcialonga.

The race was 70 km long. It took me 7 hours and 22 minutes to finish it. I skied for about 30 km together with my father but it seems that all the photographers were at the end of the race. There was some drama involved but this time I am not going to get into the details. All in all, it was a big day and I felt very close to all of those who made it possible in a variety of ways. Babbo, Mamma, Anna, Felix, Alvise, Arianna, Bea, Luisa, Marco, Fra, Jean-Thomas, Johanna, James, Paolo, Johnny, Luca, Eliana. They either gave me the equipment, came to ski with me ahead of the race, or just poked fun at me and gave some motivation. You should all participate to a big race with over 7500 people around at least once in your lifetime.

5904

 

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Eià

My Swiss train from Zurich is late, my dad’s German car from Trento is on time. We meet in Zuoz on Friday evening: fourteen hours away from La Diagonela. We check into our stylish B&B in Zernez, we take a lavish dinner, and we wax our skis. ‘It is going to be an easy race, cold, long, but easy‘ my father tells me ‘An excellent training for next week’s Marcialonga: a couple of climbs in the first half, but then it goes down nice and steady‘.

The next morning we meet two other guests from our B&B for breakfast. They are young guys hailing from Basel, probably my age, athletic bodies, cool fellas. One of them has already completed many races before. He says this is the hardest one he has ever done, by far. ‘I have done even the Vasaloppet in Sweden (note: so has my father and so will Niels, later this year). That one is longer but it is easier because it is flat. This one is a killer. It goes up and down, up and down, it is never over. I cannot believe this is your first one. Good luck!’.

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We leave the B&B at 8:15. It is a sunny day in Lower Engadine, with the temperature down at about minus 20°. We arrive in Zuoz at 8:45. My dad greets some other die-harders. Carlo from Tirano looks a bit like Maurizio Corona and wishes me luck. ‘In the end what matters is to get to the finish line but it won’t be easy: you are young and do not have much experience!‘. We stretch before the start. ‘OK, game plan‘ my dad goes ‘We start slow, you do not worry. We will catch up over time. It is a long race‘.

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Five-hundred people have signed up for the event. Based on my estimations, some three-hundred are professional athletes and one-hundred-and-fifty are pensioners who go skiing on a daily basis. The remaining fifty are reckless individuals who have no idea what they are getting into.

Start!

Meanwhile, at the very bottom of the group, I look confused: what the hell am I doing here?

9:30, km 0, boom, start. We are at the very bottom of the group. My dad asks ‘Are we the last of the bunch?‘. I turn. Behind us only two figures: an old man who seems to be limping on the skis and a dwarf. (An actual dwarf, a strong man who is giving it all, but still: he is about one meter high). ‘Not yet, keep going‘. The old man catches up with us and moves on. Then the dwarf catches up too and keeps our pace. Together, we are last.

Three km down and I look exhausted already

Three km down and I look exhausted already. Far on the back you can see the dwarf chasing us.

9:50, km 3, twenty minutes into the race. I hear a noise behind us. It is the sag wagon: the support motor vehicle following long races to pick up athletes who are unable to complete the event. The guy on the wagon, which is actually a sled but let us call it wagon for the sake of the story, stays right behind us for five minutes; then he gets on my side and tells me we are too slow, ‘You have to retire, I am sorry!‘. I translate for my father and ask him what our next move can be. ‘Tell him to go fuck himself‘. I translate diplomatically: we go on with the sag wagon behind us. The dwarf retires.

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10:00, km 4, half an hour into the race. The sag wagon passes us and then stops, as to halt our journey. The driver gets down: I stop to parlay with him while my father carries on. The organisers want us to get out, we are already five minutes overtime. I give him my electronic chip and tell him that we if we continue being too slow we will retire at the first feeding point situated at km 7. He lets me continue.

10:10, km 5, forty minutes into the race. We reach the first feeding point. The driver of the sag wagon and some other staffers want us to stop: we are seven minutes overtime. My father explodes ‘I had a stroke one year ago, if I have another one now vi denuncio!‘, he  slashes through and makes his on way. He reminds me of Bernard Hinault, 1984. We carry on.

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10:30, km 9, one hour into the race, our first overtaking. It is Beaud: you can see her in the picture of the start. She did not look very good then and looks even worse now. I imagine she is about to spend one long day in hell. We then take a second and a third participant. Farewell to the last positions. The bystanders cheer for us: Eià, eià! We are now getting into a good pace.

10:45, km 11, one hour and fifteen-minutes into the race. We reach the second feeding station and, surprise surprise, we are now back in the official time of the race.

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11:30, km 18, two hours into the race, first climb. We are riding with a couple from Sweden and with Franco from Bologna. ‘Dai che glie la facciamo vedere a questi svizzeri‘.

12:30, km 25, three hours into the race. We reach St. Moritz ten minutes ahead of the sag wagon. The driver catches up with us and hands me my electronic chip back. ‘Well done guys‘. We keep passing participants who are slowly but surely going adrift. I pity them.

St. Moritz

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14:30, km 42, five hours into the race. We are in Samedan: it is the beginning of a long, lonely flat. It feels like we are crossing the desert. I pity ourselves.

16:00, km 54, six hours and a half into the race. We are back in Zuoz with some 10 km to go. Last feeding point. The sun is about to set. ‘Are you the last?‘ one bystander asks me. I would think so: the sag wagon is behind us again. All those whom we have overtaken in the last few hours have been excluded from the race. Here we go again: fighting against overtime. We catch up two skiers who are very happy to see us. I assume that is because they are happy not to be the last (‘Ah, ma guarda, c’erano ancora altri due stronzi dietro…‘). It is only the next day my father tells me they were the cool fellas from breakfast.

Right before sunset. We are heading towards the end. Behind us, our friends from breakfast, also the last two men standing in the race.

16:30, km 59, seven hours into the race. We have passed S-chanf and we are finally heading back to Zuoz. The two skiers are 50 meters behind and we have caught up another guy. We are giving our best to get to the finish line before they close it down. Sunset.

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17:20, km 65, seven hours and fifty minutes into the race. The final climb in Zuoz is done. We reach the finish line 432nd and 433rd. The sag wagon stops and the guy jumps down to congratulate us. I meet Carlo from Tirano. ‘I cannot believe you were slower than I was! You are young, you should have been faster!

The next day we bid farewell to our hosts, who have treated us handsomely, and we stop in Zuoz in a big shop. We are having a look around when the owner comes to us and congratulates for the race. ‘Good job, I did not think you were going to be able to finish on time! Well, I hope you are not going to call a lawyer now‘. He is the driver of the sag wagon. We take a picture with him, our mental coach, and we head to Samedan. Grisons are a magical place. If we survive another week, next Sunday we will be at the starting line of the Marcialonga.

Cross country skiing

I have promised my father I will complete two traditional classic cross country skiing competitions with him: the Diagonela and the Marcialonga. The Diagonela takes place on January 19 with starts and finish in Zuoz, Engadina Valley, Switzerland. It is 65-kilometre long. The Marcialonga takes place on January 27 with start in Moena and finish in Cavalese, Dolomites of Trentino, Italy. It is 70-kilometre long.

I have never done classic cross country skiing before. My previous experience with cross country skiing is limited to skating, with one participation to the regional championship of junior students when I was 17. On that occasion, I inadvertently took a huge shortcut of about one third of the race and yet ended up only 8th out of 16 participants.

 

 


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Training:

November 7: Trento-Lavis, 10 km roller skis
December 5: Martignano-Montevaccino, 10 km, roller skis
December 23: Lavazé, 18 km, skis
December 25: Passo Coe, 10 km, skis
December 28: Viote, 27 km, skis
December 29: Lavazé, 24 km, skis
January 12: La Tourne, 22 km, skating skis
January 13: La Sagne, 15 km, skating skis
January 15: La Vue des Alps, 20 km, skating skis
January 19: La Diagonela, 65 km, skis
January 20: Morteratsch, 6 km, skis
January 23: Moonlight Classic, Alpe di Siusi, 15 km, skis
January 25: Predazzo – Lago di Tesero, 12 km, skis
January 26: Marcialonga, 70 km, skis
February 2: Petit Martel, 15 km, skating skis
February 5: Les Rochats, 17 km, skating skis
March 9: Andermatt, 10 km, skating skis

 

 

 

Kill the pressure it’s raining on

I resolved, I trained, I raced: and what a race it was. For the records, it took me less than 4 hours and 50 minutes riding at a 26.4 k/h average speed. I got lucky: no flat tyre, good preparation, horrible weather with occasional glimpses of sun. Truth is, I only marginally care about the timing. I once watched a two-minute video of this race–  which I would have posted on the blog if it wasn’t for the outrageously bad soundtrack – and I liked the gist of it: as soon as you cross the finishing line you feel like you have won a battle with yourself. And God knows how much that’s true: five hours alone on the bike with the constant fear of breaking down a tyre while you are sprinting under cantankerous weather conditions, different terrains, and those changing noises, from that initial bzzzzzz of thousands of bikes flying by together, the crrrrrrrrrr of the first gravel section, the aaaanfaaaanffaaanf of the ascent, the ciockciockciockciock of the hailstorm, the dai!dai!daicazzo! of the entrance in Siena and the finish line. Daje!

Parampampoli

I met Manuel in Novi Sad and we went running together. He was doing competitions then (it was 2009) and suggested that if I wanted to do the same I should stay away from alcohol, sleep regularly, and eat healthy. But then he also told me that his best race was the one he ran right after pulling an all-nighter. He concluded that at the end of the day there is no way we can fully control our human body.

I think of that story every time I am badly out of shape and still decide to embark in some kind of sport activity that is clearly beyond the reach of my limited physical possibilities. Which is something that happens more and more often. Last weekend I abruptly resolved to run the four-men relay of the Livorno marathon after a forced four-month stop from running due to several injuries to my right leg. I was out of shape, out of sleep, and definitely not on a alcohol-free diet. But, hey, I/we did it. Next time I should try the all-nighter and see what comes out of that.

We are the Parampampoli and one year after running the Firenze-Fiesole together we finished this 42K race in 3 hours and 13 minutes.

Gingerello

Looking at this blog I couldn’t help but notice that there have been many serious posts in a row: So it might be about time to break this virtuous chain. What better opportunity than this to fully unveil the mysterious product I sneakily mentioned in May and June. Ladies and gentlemen: I am pleased to introduce the colour of genuine company, our late 20s and Florentine walls: Gingerello. It stands for optimism, gentleness, spontaneity, but also duplicity, envy, and, ultimately, amusement.

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A more mundane description of this product would be the following: home-made drink with 35% alcohol in it and -guess what?- plenty of ginger, limited production, and exceptional branding. This is a collective endeavour of myself, Dani and dr. Biraghi – for the fun of it. We presented Gingerello to a selected audience on Friday last week. These are the pictures. If you like the idea check out our Facebook page or write me.


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The place where we were

So I wrote I was going to upload some more pictures concerning this little adventure I had together with my dad, Giallu and Nico. Here they are: they have been taken by the organizers themselves and I highly recommend taking part to at least one of their next events.

Addendum: people complimented me about the new glasses. In fact, they belong to Giallu. The reason why I am wearing them is I lost both contact lenses on the way to the lake – yes, crazy: they flew away, both at the same time, while we were speeding up in the dust. Loyal Giallu was kind enough to borrow me his glasses. We are almost equally blinded, so that worked out pretty well.