Steve Dennis writes…
I’ve travelled a few miles to races before now but this one has to be the furthest by far considering the distance to be raced.
Steve Blackmore asked me to partner him in a 2up “a few miles down the road” from where he lives near Pisa in delightful Tuscany. So I flew out to Pisa on the Friday evening and was met by a very tired Alessandra (after a 2 hour delay at Gatwick) who had stayed on at the airport after finishing her shift.
Saturday was spent building up bike, going for a short spin, chatting at the bike shop and consuming quantities of delicious Italian cuisine.
Race day arrived and the alarm went off at 6 o’clock (CET) for the 2 1/4 hour drive down the coast to Marina di Grosseto. Fortunately we left the rain behind in Pisa and drove into warm sunshine at the race HQ – a bar next to the marina stuffed full of million-pound yachts!
After a quick warm-up we were on the start ramp with lead motor scooter at the ready. Tre – due – uno – and we were off, me leading first trying my hardest to catch that moped up front! After a short leg inland we turned left and followed the coast road north through what seemed like an endless pine forest and into a stiff head-wind.
Steve was hanging on OK until the road veered slightly left and we hit the full force of the wind and he started to suffer. We dropped the pace a bit but it was too late and he had already gone into oxygen debt. The turn was in a garage forecourt and made our way back, but even with the tail-wind assistance we couldn’t make up the deficit, crossing the finish line in 29:26 with an average speed of 27.4mph for the 13.45 miles.
When the results were posted we were 3 minutes off the pace but we reckon if SB had been fitter we would have been 2nd or 3rd. As it was we finished about 8th.
The rest of the day was spent being tourists savoring the delights of such places as Castiglione della Pescaia and Baratti. Thanks to Steve & Alex for their hospitality.