Come race day and lining up in Pompeii amidst the typical Italian mix of chaos and confusion, Jeff reflected on the pre-ride briefing that at a mere 10 minutes perfectly matched its description. Relayed to non-Italian speakers by a softly spoken English translator, warnings of aggressive wild boars merged with references to a route that had previously been sent by email in ten different file formats.
“After an initial roll-out in the grupetto, the route immediately took us on a switchbacked path up the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius. After starting on broken asphalt too steep to ride, the path gradually deteriorated to loose, marbelly volcanic dirt which was hard enough to push my bike up, let alone ride. But after summiting the crater at 1000m above sea level, we were treated to a beautiful tarmac descent with the Bay of Naples as a backdrop and, ahead, the coastal road north.”
Planning to ride through the night before clearing Rome early the next morning, the challenging nature of the route inevitably slowed Jeff’s progress. But though tired, he was able to pull from reserves honed over a lifetime of riding.