Italian Time Trials, Gran Fondos and Pasta Parties

The chance to ride at a world class F1 and moto GP circuit is not something that happens very often, let alone one in Italy and with friends.

The first ever Over The Hill Gran Fondo, held in the Imola GP circuit was being held at the same time we were in the region just north of Tuscany and with a good friend Stefano from @saddledrunk offering to look after us in his family’s nearby home, it was an opportunity that was far too good to pass up. It also seemed like the perfect end to our month long cycling trip where all the training, riding and touring could be out to the test to see how we were really doing.

We signed up online a few days before the event to ensure that we got a space on the GF and along with the option of 102 or 162km event there was also a Time Trial option. Neither Gaby or myself had ever entered a TT before and though it might be a fun if painful 30minutes of bombing around an infamous circuit (making braap noises).

We did have one slight issue though, Gaby’s carbon bike had broken and she wasn’t able to use it. Our Charge touring bikes are built for massive mile munching and are perfect for that, but for a 15km TT they weren’t suitable so we went on the hunt for a bike to borrow!

Almost instantly we stumbled across a company called Kemo who were demoing their top end race bikes and kindly lent us 2 to have a wiz round the circuit on!

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To say Gabs was ‘off like a rocket’ was a bit of an understatement. Riding her loaded touring bike for 150km a day for the past month had clearly helped as she shot around the course with me desperately trying up keep up and putting my heart rate through the ceiling.

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After returning to the demo arena with huge smiles, panting and explaining how impressed we were with the bike, the mechanics and owner (with a little persuasion) offered to lend Gabs the bike to compete in the TT.

Numbers were hastily attached to the bike and jersey and off we went to the start line to eye up the competition!

We were defiantly the odd ones out with ‘typically’ cycling clothing and helmets…no aero ‘sperm’ lids or over socks for us and certainly no TT bars or Disc wheels.

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The girls were up first and after 10 had set off with 1 minute intervals it was time for gofastergaby to show what she was made of. 3 Laps of the 5km circuit as fast as possible. We estimated that finishing in 30minutes would be a solid time. 30kph.

After a flat out first lap and having over taken 2 people, Gabs looked in no way like slowing down, even taking time out to wave at the crowd and ‘ciao’ a few photographers on the way round. Well I suppose happy miles are fast miles after all!

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We still need to confirm the exact time but around the 25minute mark was her effort…and good enough to bag 3rd place. It also turns out that this event was a rather prestigious one as the winners received the Italian national jersey for their efforts! Next time Gabs…no waving and I wonder how she would do?

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Her prize for 3rd place…a huge Ham! Now if only more races rewarded success with charcuterie cycling would be the most popular sport in the world!

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Even though I didn’t get on the podium I was very happy with my efforts. I managed to beat 30 people with funny helmets and big carbon wheels and got a time of 22minutes over the hilly course.

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Gabs loved it, and understandably as she performed fantastically…I wasn’t so sure as felt like I was going to be sick with exertion for 20minutes, didn’t see anyone on course as I was keeping the same distance between the 2 in front and behind me and then collapsed…

…still a good day out, especially after pasta and Peronis!

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Mansell

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