|Card and tea courtesy of of a welcome home parcel from Caz...thanks buddy!|
Finale Ligure sits on the Italian coast, only an hour and a half from Nice, but a world away in terms of the feel and vibe of the place. I haven't spent a lot of time in Italy, but after last weeks trip, I'll be sure to be making some more visits...
I can't believe I haven't been to Finale before...it's an awesome mountain biking destination, has world class climbing, a pretty town complete with narrow cobbled postcard-perfect streets, clean, sandy beaches, cheap pizza, and gelato, and of course a great coffee culture...it's a brilliant place!
|Awesome views, fun and dusty trails, and riding with your friends...a good way to finish the summer :)|
I had no idea if I'd be good enough to even ride all the tracks, let alone race them, I literally had no idea what to expect. But I found I was pleasantly surprised :) The race tracks were brilliant, and suited my kind of riding well...steep, technical rocky trails with some tight switchbacks, and a fair bit of timed pedalling to weed out the pure downhillers! I was super excited about racing, and encouraged to see that hopefully I wouldn't be last, judging by the number of people who were struggling to even ride some of the technical sections, let alone race them.
The format for Enduro racing, is basically a long day's ride, with untimed Liason stages (although at this race there were cut-offs to make on the liasons), and then timed Special stages. At the end of the day (or two days in this case), the winner is the person who has accumulated the least time, ie the fastest, over the special stages. Enduro is kind of a current niche word for what I would say is essentially just mountain biking...its what most of us have been doing for years anyway! Go out for a day's riding with your friends, enjoying the scenery and the socialising on the way up the climbs, and then race/shred/shralp down the trails, eyes wide with adrenaline and delight, before regrouping at the bottom to share how much fun you've just had! Some clever marketing person somewhere is sitting in a large chair, probably stroking a cat (a la Dr Evil), laughing to himself about how much money he's making from being able to sell "Enduro-specific" products to everyone at the moment!
|Pretty cobbled streets, beaches, and epic trails. Finale is ace!|
I was totally gutted therefore when it got to Friday and the day of registration. Emily's name was still on the list, and despite our multiple emails and a conversation in person with the race organiser the previous week, it hadn't been sorted. I was gutted, and despite a couple of hours of trying to talk to him, it became clear he wasn't going to sort the entry swop out in time for me to race :(
So once again, I had to watch whilst everyone else was racing for two days...it was like the TransProvence all over again!
However, I'd still had an awesome week's riding, and it just made me even more resolved to get some entries in for races next year :)
It was sad to leave on Sunday evening to start the long drive back to the UK, knowing it'll be a while before I can go out on a ride in shorts and a t-shirt, and simply dust off the bike at the end!
|Surprise surprise....it's cold wet and windy in Calais :(|
The following day I finally completed the journey back to Cheshire, to be greeted by my parent's new very bouncy puppy that looked excited to have someone new to play with....(being more of a cat person, I've yet to decide if the feeling is mutual)...and a huge chocolate cake from my sister Clare, so a good "Welcome Home". The rest of the week since I've been back has been spent fixing my poor bike who has had a long and hard season, and tidying up my stuff after 6 months of living out of a van and a bag! It will be great to see my mum and dad when they are back from holiday this week, as well as lots of other family and friends who I haven't seen for ages....it'll be a busy winter!
|New friend? Only if she stops trying to eat all my tyres....!|