Archives mensuelles : mai 2019

Italy Divide : Veni, vedi, bici

After 4 days and 7 hours of riding, pushing my bike in the scorching heat of Campania, the cold rain of Emilia-Romagna and the snow of the Pre-Alps, I made it to the finish, tied for first finisher with two time TCR winner James Hayden.

I’m sure to dot-watchers it seems like all went smoothly and that there was never a doubt in my mind I would reach Torbole. What no one knows is that I spent most of the first 24 hours of the race trying not to quit. The fast start in the heat of Naples had left me in bad shape both physically and mentally. Pleasure, which is the number one thing that drives me to push forward, had been nowhere to be seen. Only pain was around. Getting from Naples to Rome had been nothing but an ordeal and just like Roberto Duran, I was ready to say « no mas ». But for good or bad, my mind is made a certain way that makes it almost impossible to give up. I don’t think it’s toughness, or resolve or even pride. I think it’s just plain and simple stubbornness. So I kept going. Slowly and painfully. But I kept going. The scenery, the towns, the weather, the traffic , everything gradually got a bit better and finally, I started having fun.

Coming to Naples, my ambition was modest : don’t get hurt, don’t get injured, reach the finish line. I spent most of last year worried about a wrist that would not heal. Then in January I had troubles with my lower back. And finally my left elbow started acting out. Needless to say I was not very confident on the starting line. I’m happy I co-won the race but what makes me happier is that I was able to stay healthy all the way, and that my body will be able to endure the abuse of the races to come.
I’m glad I came to Italy and completed the event. The sheer brutality of this race is something to behold. Every time I overcome such difficulties I become stronger. And several times, as I was patiently pushing my bike on a steep incline or carrying it to fo over some fallen tree, I thought about how much it would have taken out of me a few years back, and how now I was able to stay focused and just calmly wait for it to be over.