The picturesque town of Feltre nestled in the heart of the Dolomites in Italy, is usually a nice quiet town with its cobbled streets, the usual Italian Café’s and bars and general relaxed atmosphere, but today, 11th June, it’s home to one of the craziest cycling races an amateur can take part in. The Castelli 24 hour race! Our intrepid racing member of staff (Dave) has travelled out to this event and here, we get a preview of just what it’s all about.
As the name suggests, it’s a 24 hour road race and this year I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to take part. It sounded great, a race where you can have a nap half way through, huge crowds, great organisation, professionals mixing it up with us mere mortals and teams of 12 riders. Nice! 12 riders per team over 24 hours and I was thinking – easy, 2 hours of effort then off to the free BBQ.
Then came the rumours and the wake up call. A bit of research and a few cold sweats later and I’m thinking that I need to cram in more training in than I’m doing, otherwise I’m in real trouble!
The race is held in the centre of Feltre, with the 4km circuit comprising of cobbles, a long hill and a fast back straight. Fast seems to be the key word for the race, with speeds hitting above 70kmph on the back straight and stories of guys coming out of the pits and chasing for a lap to get on the bunch, then inevitably blowing spectacularly!
The 12 man teams are split in to little groups of about 3 or 4 riders, with each little group covering roughly three to four 2 hour shifts out on the course. Each rider takes it in turn to go out and get demolished and demoralised by which ever pro is drilling it on the front of the bunch.
With over 100 teams, the peloton is a healthy size at any time and with guys sprinting out of the pit area with fresh legs every few laps, the speed never drops. This makes for 24 hours of frantic riding and very fast speeds.
It’s amazing what a bit of fear does for you, I’ve managed to get to a level of fitness after a frustrating winter of injuries, a springtime operation to rebuild my shoulder and have crammed in 60 hours of training on the road in 3 weeks, with some turbo before that. So if I’m not fit for this race now, I never will be!
Thanks to the Garmin 500 so generously loaned me by Fatty, you’ll be able to see just how fit/unfit I am and how high my heart rate can get before I start to worry. I’ll also be reviewing some kit during the race and what better way to test them than in a 24hour race? I’m also going to take some film of the event to give you a racers view of the action, on and off the course. We’ll see just how happy the pro riders are to answer questions at 3am while they are trying to relax!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have competed in several Italian races and Gran Fondo’s in the past, but this one will be a whole new experience and steep learning curve!
Be sure to check out the PBK blog next week to find out how Dave got on and to see a different perspective on what will be an amazing spectacle of racing.