Dan was in Italy to take part in the Novecolli Gran Fondo:
Hi all, back last night from my bike race in Italy, Novecolli 2014 (Nine Hills). The most popular Gran Fondo in Italy, it was fantastic!!
The race started on Sunday morning 18/5 at 6am in Cesenatico, a small seaside town on the east coast of Italy. I was in the blue starting grid, there were two more grids in front of me each containing about 1200 people, and a further 9000 people behind in separate grids, in total about 12000 people.
I arrived at 5.10am to get to the front of my grid and an open(ish) road to get going on.
Each grid was separated by a 3mins gap. We set off for the first hill 27k away at a heart racing 25mph, Everyone had had their caffeine that morning!!
Once the hills started you had to stay to left if you wanted get by, saying “sinestra!” (left) and people would move over, after the fifth hill this wasn’t a problem as the field had thinned out enough to find space to go through, if you had the energy!? With a total of 3840mtrs of climbing over 127miles (or less for the Medio Fondo) on a hot day, pacing was everything. There were food stops and a mechanic and spectators cheering at the top of every hill, amazing!
I had planned to stop for water at the top of the 8th hill but a guy on a moped came by and asked me if I needed water, he filled my bottles and that meant no stopping, one more hill (Gororlo) and it was downhill and flat for 30k all the way to Cesenatico and the finish line.
The descents were very fast and the bends were sometimes very sharp, you had to keep your concentration to the max. I crossed the line in 6hrs 56mins (avg 18.3mph) 400/4100, very happy with that.
At the finish and as part of your entry fee of 60euros there was a pasta party, basically as much food and drink as you wanted (pasta, risotto, cake, beer, coffee etc) also included in the fee was a Sportful rain jacket, energy bars, a bottle and other bits.
The organisation and care for your welfare was second to none and I thoroughly recommend it.