Thursday, 8 May 2014

Riva del Garda

Last Saturday began with a 5am breakfast ahead of a 7.30am race start: oats soaked in apple juice mixed with raisins, linseeds, chopped apple, banana and walnuts, and of course a strong coffee! In fact, breakfast always starts with strong coffee, which seems to be the first thing I think about when the alarm goes off!

Peace and quiet and stunning views :)

This was to be my first time racing on the new track at Riva so I spent some time riding the course - in the rain - during the week. It's tough and more challenging than the old course. The climbs are long and  often ramp up very steeply before the summit - just to make your legs scream a bit louder! - and some of the descents are rooty, rocky and slippery, especially when wet and muddy - and very wet and very muddy it was! The last descent on the Extrema course (the longest of the 4 courses to choose from) is the most technical with a muddy, slippery, steep switchback section followed by a long, gnarly old cart track which is even more tricky after 4-5 hours of racing! Fast and very fun on a long travel bike; slightly painful on an XC race bike  - my arms still ache now ;)

Team Mechanic Peter Felber working hard with the bikes!

Despite the technical trails I choose my Canyon Grand Canyon CF SLX - with 3800 metres of vertical ascent over 94km I wanted to use my light weight climbing machine! - using Continental Race King 2.2 Race Sport tyres, which give excellent grip on roots and rocks. Bearing in mind the steep ramps, I opted for a 30t front chain ring with Sram XX1 to help me keep a high cadence and try to save my legs!

The majority of the race went well, at the half way point - the highest point on the course - I was riding in a good position amongst the men. But I had a couple of problems from here onwards and some stops at the last 2 tech zones along with a puncture - at the very bottom of the old gnarly cart track - cost me more than 10 minutes. Naturally I was frustrated to lose time against the men I was racing, but fortunately I maintained my lead in the women's race :)

If you want a challenge that includes tough climbs and some technical trails then Riva is definitely worth entering. The ice cream and coffee are great, the scenery is stunning, and the biking atmosphere is awesome - it's crazy how many people and bikes descend on the area. Really, it's hard to believe until you see it. If you love bikes - riding as well as wandering around the expo looking at and talking about bikes - then you'll love the Riva Bike festival.

On Monday we had a day video shooting with Limar Helmets and on Tuesday I had a really nice training ride in Riva before flying back to London. Yesterday we drove from London to Scotland where we're now preparing for the National Marathon Championships on Saturday. It's wet here and I'm almost certain that it's going to be a tough, cold, muddy race! Very different from last year's dry dusty trails and 23 degrees centigrade!  

Solitude in Scotland :)

There'll be live tracking on Saturday, so follow me here starting at 10am (11am CET).


  1. Overgeared, my arms felt it before I got to the technical descents. A total body workout. I'll have to try that breakfast if it makes for a performance like yours ;-)

  2. It is great to have the feeling of a total body workout…makes the coffee and cake taste even better ;)

    Enjoy your power breakfast :)