We've just got back from a long weekend in Italy, racing bikes at the Castelli 24 hour criterium.
24 hours with Phil Collins*
“I would rather have a kidney removed with a plastic knife in a branch of KFC but we’ll sign up again for next year”
Every June in the foothills of the Dolomites the centre of Feltre is closed off for 24 hours of thundering thighs. The relay criterium event around a 1.8km circuit is organised by our old friends at Castelli and is about as much fun as you can have on a bike unless you own a tandem with the seats very close together.
100 teams of 8-12 riders take to the line with strategies that vary from “we’ve paid for a pro- rider so we are going to get our money’s worth” to “I’m sure the rest of the lads will be along in a minute, I’ll keep going until they get here”. For sheer guts I admire the tenacity of the latter.
The course goes up for longer than is entirely necessary, down for a disappointingly short time and has a long straight section that provides useful thinking time for composing an excuse should you decide to hand over early and a nearby canal if you just want to end it all. The lap finishes on a cobbled section sponsored by the local dentist.
Notable features apart from all the cycling stuff are the tannoy operators taste in music, which lurches from abysmal (Genesis) to please make it stop (Genesis), the chance to see a former world champion emerge from a putrid port-a-loo and the local Sprizzone which seems like an ideal pre-race drink. Like Italian footballers or Michael Douglas it goes down easily.
The combination of sleep deprivation, Sprizzone dehydration and trying to ride as fast as you can tests your mental strength so you WILL hate it for a bit but 5 minutes after it’s over you are booking the hotel for next year.
Great event. Fantastic people. Get some friends together and do it one year. You’ll never look back.
Thanks Castelli for a great event.
*As you can see from the picture Hazel’s bike is a Genesis.
Last year's event video.