I've just returned home after two weeks in Riva del Garda :D During the first week I trained with Kristine Norgaard (Denmark) on some beautiful trails in the mountains on the western side of the lake. Over three days we rode for 15 hours; only covering 130 miles but we did climb some 7000 vertical metres. It's funny to return home after long rides and to have only covered 40 miles! Our rides included a variety of different ascents and descents around Paso Nota (1205m) and Monte Tremalzo (1686m). The skies were clear and the views down to the valley and the lake below were truly spectacular, but often I found myself a little too close to the edge on the narrow singletrack trails that wind around the mountainsides - I don't have much of a head for heights! Kristine's wise words were: "Look ahead and don't look down!"......easier said than done when there is a sheer drop 1ft away from my wheel!!! Despite the sunshine there was still snow at the top of Monte Tremalzo and it was really cool to be riding the top of the pass in the snow :)
Dave came out to join me for the second week and I couldn't wait to show him some of my new favourite trails, restaurants and ice cream shops :D Unfortunately he didn't make it to the snow at the top of Tremalzo - I'd already ridden his legs off after the first climb to Paso Nota ;) - but we did make it to the ice cream shop. Phew :D
My training for the first week wasn't as structured as normal because my heart rate still hadn't returned to normal following the Cape Epic, but at the beginning of the second week I started to feel better again and this was confirmed with a couple of great interval sessions. This gave me confidence for the Riva del Garda marathon a couple of days ago. There was a strong line up of girls and I was looking forward to testing my form. However, I was also feeling a little nervous because this was my first solo race since January - all of my other races this year have been shared with a partner!!! It felt strange to be lining up without my other half!!!
There are three different distances to choose from during the race (53km/1659m, 86km/2705m, or 105km/3561m) but my intention from the beginning was to ride the full distance. I love this marathon and after missing it last year due to a knee injury I was really excited to be back. The climbs are steep and long *Yay* and there are some reasonably technical descents to keep you on your toes. These were made a little more tricky after a couple of days of rain and they did claim some unfortunate victims who I saw lay at the sides of the course holding injured legs and arms (I hope that you're all OK).
I rode with Pia Sundstedt for most of the first climb, but she was super strong and managed to pull away from me not too far from the top. However at the bottom of the climb she was only a minute ahead so I dug deep in the hope that I might be able to close it again. It was not to be and at the bottom of the last climb she had put another 2 minutes into me. We still had at least another hour of climbing to go so I tried again to close the gap, but at the bottom of the final descent the gap remained unchanged. The last 10km to the finish is flat, but as normal there was a strong headwind. I took a Torq caffeine gel and pulled a group of riders who were finishing the middle distance back to the finish line. I was super happy to finish in 2nd place :D
1st Pia Sundstedt 5:03.33
2nd Sally Bigham 5:07.23
3rd Elisabeth Brandau 5:24.2
Topeak-Ergon Racing Team had a double podium: Congrats to Alban Lakata for his 2nd position in the men's race :)