Follow Contador 2016 in Gran Canaria... 5 days cycling with Alberto and Polartec

Follow Contador in Gran Canaria

Have you ever cycle in Gran Canaria? Have you ever trained with a real pro cyclist?
Last week end I had the chance to take part at one of the most amazing experience that a normal cyclist as I am would like to do.

Polartec, the american company well known to make innovative fabrics for the biggest outdoor brands is now going more and more into cycling world. Their collaboration with Fundacion Contador Team founded by the legend of cycling Alberto Contador gives them the chance to test and experience on real cyclists new materials made just to be confortable in any kind of atmopheric situation.

Polartec is supporting and sponsoring the organisation which discovers young talented cyclists and transmit them passion for this sport and values such as honesty, friendship, respect and sacrifice.

How it started

Follow Contador

Polartec announced in August a cycling contest where, connecting the app Strava, who cycled 1000 km in a month could be chosen to take part at the #FollowContador camp in Gran Canaria Island, Spain. A great oppurtunity for who is not a pro rider but loves to cycle a lot.

So, as one of the media guest, Friday October 28th, I flew to Gran Canaria to take part at this special event. I wasn't expecting it was so warm but I provided bringing with me some summer clothes.

I immediately had a really nice feeling about the place, the people that I met, the winners of the contest coming from all over Europe and the organisation. 

I had with me just my Brooks England saddle and pedals because Free Motion Bike Center set for us the road bikes on the ride sizes, ready to be used. I couldn't wait to jump on the bike and go to discover the island.

Three days with Alberto Contador

#Follow Contador - Day 1

Alberto Contador joined us the last two days but at our very first experince with the crew in Gran Canaria we had a nice ride to Touropass with Ivan Basso and Jesus Hernandez from Team Tinkoff.
It was already pretty warm for me that I'm not used anymore at the almost 40 degrees but we managed very well to get to the top, challanging the first Strava segment chosen for this event.

Every day, in our cycling tour, we had to test us in a climb of more or less 8-10 km recording the track via GPS.

We all couldn't wait for the second day where Alberto Contador was going to join us. I never though to have a such a big opportunity to ride with a legend of cycling. I didn't know what to expect or if I could have a chance for a small chat with him.

#Follow Contador - Day 2

The group was riding very fast, sometimes 35 km/h, sometimes 46 km/h up and down on the coast... A bit to fast to start a ride of 82km with about 1800 m... But the peloton was compact and everyone pretty much at the same level. It wasn't the right time of the season for long rides in Gran Canaria beacause the temperature at midday was very high. That's reason which made my climbs harder.
Follow Contador Gran Canaria 2016
I'm not a really good climber, I'm pretty much the last of the group almost all the time.

The white Polartec jersey was a good choice and the material which is made with it is really nice and perfect for hot temperature. It also dries up very quickly. 

I've been refreshing myself often just to don't get my head to hot and feel sick. Riding most of the time with Juliet Elliot, but the best moment was when Alberto came to join us for a bit of pedaling together... A small time with him made our moment very motivating and surpised us about his personality and his availability...
Than the challange started and everyone sprinted to the top!

We met again everyone at the top where the breeze was cooler and we could have some restoring food... Thanks to Free Motion Bike Center of Gran Canaria. We where just at the half of our tour.

A great descent to San Bartolomè de Tarajana overtaking safari jeeps was for me a full of adrenaline. I'm slow on climbing but I give all myself when the road is going down. I loved it so much and the landscape around me was really incredible.

The group was gathered, we where all satisfied! It was time to go back and have a relaxing swim in the pool.
Follow Contador Gran Canaria

#Follow Contador - Day 3

I knew already that the day after was going to but much harder... I wasn't sure to take part at the ride... Maybe just for the Strava segment... I was going to see how my legs were feelling in the morning. But I didn't want to miss this opportunitity of the last ride of the #FollowContador camp. I was there and i wanted to give it a go!!!

101 km to ride, 2550 m of elevation, about 48 km to the top of Pico de Las Nieves. The tour started to going up just after the beginning from the hotel. The sun was high already... When you are there you are in the game, so you just push on your pedals to reach the first top of the climb.

The Strava segment started and I couldn't manage to ride all the way up... I had to get a lift otherwise I could keep going further than that point. But I know myself, I can not give up like that. At the top I jumped back on my bike, i wasn't sure how much kilometers we still had in from of us to reach the top.

Well, we splitted in different groups and we started. It tooks me a lot to get at Pico de las Nieves... It was real suffering, incredibly hard, so steep... I really wanted to jump on the van, but I had some incredible people helping me so much. The guys of the Fundacion Contador Team are really strong cyclist and so kind... They could be much faster on that climb but they didn't want to let the tail of the group alone... They kept telling me "you are here, you will do it, no worries!".
Follow Contador Gran Canaria 2016

It was tough for everyone, even harder for Francisco and Juan and one of the guides, but the girls reached the top with their incredible support. 
Finnally one of the most difficult climbs of Europe was done, it was time to enjoy the long and fast way down to the sea and ride back to the hotel.

Many thanks!!!

I want to say big THANK YOU to Polartec that made this happen, to Fundacion Contador Team for the nice time spent together, to Alberto Contador to joined us and sharing with averyone this experience and to Your Big Stories to have captured these incredible moments!

Etixx Sports per nutrirsi in bici. L'importanza degli integratori non solo per atleti professionisti.


Un elemento spesso sottovalutato da chi pratica sport è l'alimentazione. Per avere una buona forma fisica ed essere prestanti bisogna seguire dei semplici ma molto efficaci accorgimenti.

Lo sapete che una perdita del 2% di liquidi può portare a un calo delle prestazioni fino al 20%?
Quindi è davvero molto importante reidratare l'organismo durante l'esercizio fisico.

Sappiamo che un'atleta professionista per ottenere i migliori risultati si allena costantemente e segue una dieta equilibrata, ma questo non basta per sentirsi sempre nelle condizioni ottimali al momento di una gara o di un evento sportivo importante. Gli integratori alimentari sono studiati per dare il giusto apporto nutrizionale al fisico che viene messo alla prova mediante l'attività fisica.

Quanta energia abbiamo bisogno durante l'attività fisica?
E una questione del tutto personale e da valutare in base alle condizioni esterne (tipo di sport, clima...), ma come regola generale si consiglia di consumare 60g di carboidrati ogni ora per un'attività endurance. 30g all'ora, invece, per uno sforzo meno intenso.

La filosofia Etixx Sports Nutrition si differenzia da altre aziende per le attenzioni che dà alle esigenze di ogni atleta, la scelta di ingredienti di alta qualità, gli attenti studi con cui vengo pensati e realizzati i prodotti. Come per un atleta che cerca di dare il massimo nel proprio sport anche Etixx la pensa allo stesso modo per poter soddisfare le necessità che ogni sportivo richiede.

Da sempre Etixx collabora e supporta atleti professionisti e team internazionali, ma anche dilettanti e amatori. Grazie alla collaborazione con loro, l'azienda ha sviluppato ottimi prodotti che hanno aiutato i vari atleti di ottenere grandi successi.


I prodotti Etixx

Un indice circolare creato da Etixx aiuta l'atleta durante la scelta dei prodotti più indicati per lui da assumere prima, durante e dopo l'attività fisica.

HEALTH
La salute prima di tutto. Un corretto reintegro delle vitamine e dei sali minerali è alla base di una forma fisica ottimale.

POWER
La forza è fondamentale per qualsiasi atleta e questa linea è ideale per incrementarla e supportare la costruzione muscolare.

ENDURANCE
Gli sport di resistenza e a lunga durata richiedono all'atleta idratazione attraverso bevande isotoniche.

PERFORMANCE
Una linea di prodotti a base di carboidrati per ottenere una prestazione ottimale che duri tutta l'attività fisica.

RECUPERATION
Il recupero muscolare è fondamentale per ogni atleta. Questi prodotti sono formulati per aiutare il recupero della massa muscolare dopo un intenso sforzo fisico e per preparare il fisico al successivo allenamento o gara.


Se volete quindi dare il meglio di voi nello sport affidatevi innanzitutto a un preparatore competente che vi sappia consigliare l'allenamento giusto e scegliete degli integratori di qualità.

Per maggiori informazioni sui prodotti Etixx visitate il sito.
Buzzoole

L'Eroica living the history of cycling


 It's the season of my "first times"!

Last time I told the story about my first gravel road challenge and my first time at the Vigorelli velodrome, now is the time to tell you about my very first L'Eroica.

I have been invited less than a month ago by Brooks England because I'm ambassador of the brand and I couldn't say another time "no" because normaly the first week end of October is very busy of any kind of events (Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure, Red Hook in Milan, etc...).

So this was the perfect time to go. The XX aniversary of L'Eroica, twenty years of this incredible event to celebrate.

Brooks England as partner and sponsor of this event has organized an amazing week end in Gaiole in Chianti to present new products, to let as taste local yummy food, wine and to make journalists and guest to take part at the Sunday ride.

7000 people were there to parteciate with so many different kind of old bikes which must to follow some rules to be accepted as vintage bicycle and to have the chance to ride the white roads of Chianti.

If you don't have anything for L'Eroica, no worries, you can find any kind of things you need once you get there: you can rent a bike, you can buy some vintage wool jersey and shorts and you can also get old cycling shoes or any other accessories that you can use for the ride.

At the beginning I wasn't sure with distance to choose, not for sure the 209 km (the longest one). I was almost deciding to ride the 135 km, but then I chose the 75 km. From this year there was also a new route: 115 km but with more than 2700 meters of elevation.
For who is not trained enough to deal with long distances it's possible to cycle the 46 km, also nice and spectacular.

So I started my ride at 8.30 in the morning and I didn't want to take with me much energy bars 'cause I knew already that there would be alot to eat at every feed zone. But the first stop was suppose to be after 45 km so it was a good idea to take something with me. You never know!

Most of the ride is on gravel road - I just love it - so be read for flat tires and some mechanical issue. Another thing to take in the pocket is a pit-stop like the Vittoria one, a foam ready to repair and pump your tire in case of puncture. I had it one with me so I could help another cyclist of my group.

The ride was awesome, every turn, every climb, every descent show you a different landascape on Chianti's hills. We were lucky to don't get the rain, actually we started in a light mist and we ended up with the sun.

At every feed zone you can find local delight from tipical bread and oil to grapefruit, from finocchiona (the local salame) to great Chianti wine.

A really incredible and hard ride which you can get the best of it if you ride with friends and which makes you live in the history of cycling.

At L'Eroica you can see over 100 years old bikes, typical characters, and a lot of ladies on their vintage bicycles.
I was so happy to be there, finally!

Hope you will have a chance once in your life to be part of L'Eroica.

Some L'Eroica rules are:

  • the bike has to be made before year 1987;
  • the brake cables must pass outside and over the handlebars;
  • must have shift levers on the down tube of the frame;
  • pedals should be with toe clips and straps or original pedals for older bikes.
But you can also find more information about bike regulation on L'Eroica website.



Cycling in Milan between Rapha pop up and Vigorelli velodrome


Has been a full on week end the past one where I've been in Milano as a cyclist for the very first time.
I actually went for a cyclocross singlespeed race few years ago at the Lambro park but this time I had the chance to live Milano as urban cyclist.

I come from a small city called Vicenza an the traffic can be congestes in the rush time, but most of the roads that I normally ride are pretty free from cars. Milan is caothic at every hour of the day: trafic lights, trams, roundabouts, railways, pavè...

So a new experiece for me... And happy to had finally the oportunity to be there for few days.
The city it's easier if you go around with a bike so there's no much problems for parking, but for sure we need to take care at the bike every time we stop some where.

The Rapha pop up situated in Corso Garibaldi 117 has a bike rack inside the shop so the bicycle it's safe.

As ambassador Rapha I took part a the Women's night at the pop up where the Katusha team mechanic explaned us few easy things about "how to fix a bike problem while we are riding". Few girls took part at the nigth and at the conversation making the events nice.

I love to get involve in this kind of events anad make other women to take part.

But my experience in Milan had its best on saturday and sunday when the rides were on.


On saturday thanks to Iride Modena and the photographer Emanuele Barbaro I had the chance to ride at the Vigorelli velodrome for my very first time.
Some loops to warm up and get confidence with the bike and the start to push getting the speed to ride higher on the track. It was amazing, be at the storical velodrom of Milan at the special opening.

But my saturday was pretty full of things happening one after the other. From the Vigorelli velodrome I went with Emanuele at the Marco Aurelio Fontana event called Fuffenaffen about one hour from Milan. Time to change clothes, bike, have a smal plate of pasta and we were riding a mountain bike. The party was full of Fontana's fans coming from all over the north Italy, the weather was perfect and the place great.

I met Marina Romoli for my first time and Ia have a really nice conversation with her. She's a hero and a powerful girl full of life even if she will not ride a bike anymore. She's awesome. After her accident which paralyzed her legs she's now on a chair wheels. She used to me a great track and road cyclist. After six year living a new life she founded the Marina Romoli association as foundraiser for spinal injury research.

Well, my Saturday didn't finish here because in the evening we went back to the Vigorelli where the Milano Fashion Fixed Criterium was on.  The great show of fixies is so fascinating but it was also nice for to meet some friends of the cyclocross singlespeed.

It was a long, super nice and tiring day, but i want to go to sleep pretty early to be ready for the Rapha women's ride of the day after.

The women's ride are always a big surprise, can have a big partecipation or can have just few girls join the group. But helped by the weather and the type of ride we advertised (social ride) many girls showed up the ride.

Thanks to Mariateresa Montaruli of IoDonna.it to have planned the tour into teh Parco del Ticino, in the countryside of Milan. We cycled for 70 km and we stopped on the way back at Casina Caremma for some home made cakes and coffees.

Happy to have seen so many girls on the bike at the ride. It was a super experience for everyone!
The Rapha women's ride stopped at Casina Caremma for some coffee.

My first Gravel Road Challenge... My first victory!


My first Gravel Road Challenge and my first victory in one of my favorite place to ride any kind of bicycle like Punta Ala in Tuscany

Last week end I had the chance to go back to one of those locations where any kind of cycling is possible: the Maremma Toscana.

The chance to take part to one gravel road race was in my plans and the Gravel Road Challenge of Punt Ala has been the best occasion to do it.
I'm actually riding a pure gravel road bike, a Santa Cruz Stigmata that I only have been riding it on asphalt, so I changed my tires from completely slick to some more tessellated ones, perfect for dirt, muddy and a bit rocky roads.

I knew already that was going to be a great event. The spirit is about "have fun and taste the local specialities" more that race, race, race.
So we met at 9 to get number and everything set to start the race. We are Italian so we need to take time for a coffee and a bit of chat before the event begins.

The PuntAla Camping Resort and Punta Ala Trail Center hosted the event right on the Tuscan coast and impossible not to take some shots on the beach to post them straight away on my instagram. Well, that place is really great and well served for any kind of biker.

The Gravel Road Challenge format works exactly the same as an Enduro mountain bike race. We've got our times of the transfers to stick on our bike and the finish time that we have to be back. The race count the time of three special stages where you have to go faster than you can.
So we all head to the first stage at the right time and one after the other, we started to rock'n'roll. An amazing dirt road to climb as first hard piece of race and than a fast and pretty bumpy downhill where I think a some point I tried to got as fast as I could without know where I was going, shaking on my bike. The adrenaline was much stronger than my fear but just after the stage I realized what I did.

I know also that I missed a stunning view on the coast of Castiglione della Pescaia, but I was for sure super happy because I didn't crash!

So one stage done and the first feed zone was there waiting for us. Wine, sweets, pizzette and delicious things were there to satisfy our hunger.
Heading to stage two we had a couple of hours where we had the chance to ride all together in a big group through the countryside where the sinuous gravel roads climb smooth hills of vineyards.
Stage three was actually flat, but against the wind in a rough section of puddles and stones.

After this one, the race wasn't finished yet but the it looked like we had a price. We ended up at Tenuta le Mortelle, one of the Antinori's Vineyard of Tuscany. Wine taste, delicacies and some bio fruits were waiting for use to feed us and give us energy for the next and last stage. 

A pure immersion in a typical Tuscan farm surrounded by the Mediterranean maquis. No water at the buffet, but tasty white, rosè and red wine.

So it was time to head to the coast where the start of the third stage was waiting for the riders. After climbing Tirli's road and surviving at the storm, another pit stop was right in the village center, but I did just a quick stop to don't get cold and don't loose time... We had still few kilometres before the last shot.

The sun came back out and the air was warm again and made our last part of the race perfect. The dirt road to the start was still a long way before to get at the judges spot.

This made my victory at the my first Gravel Road Challenge.

It was for sure a special sunday for my win, for the weather that wasn't to bad, for the people that had fun with me and for the nice locations which we had the chance to ride through.

I was looking at the time scrolling quickly on my Garmin screen and I was worried that I was not going to make in time with the risk to get late at the start line. But I've got there 10 seconds just before my start. I just had the time to open my gilet and go... Go as faster as I could. I knew already that road which takes to Cala Violina, a famous bay near Punta Ala... But I couldn't remember the two climbs after, that took us to the finish line.

During my pedaling up I could see people jumping off the bike and walk... But walking is slower and harder especially with those cycling shoes, so I tried my best and pedaled up to the last meters of the stage. That sandy and soft gravel road wasn't helping me on climbing up. But I made it, we all made it... And I was in perfect time so i didn't get any extra minutes charged on my total time.

The area between Punta Ala, Castiglione della Pescaia, Follonica and Massa Marittima which goes from the sea to the highest hills of the Maremma, is an ideal area for every cyclist. Mountain biking, road biking, cycle tourism, gravel road biking, e-biking, enduro... It's some of you can do here!

// Photo credit Alex Boyce