Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ironbike 2008

After over 30 hours of travelling, Eric and are in Entraque, Italy and just finished the prologue of the Ironbike. It was no easy feat getting here but well worth it. We flew in to Milan on Tuesday and took a bus to the main train station, each carrying over 100 lbs of luggage including our bike boxes. We took 2 different trains to get to Cuneo which is in the Piedmont district. From there we caught another bus that took us into the mountains and to the small town of Entraque. Once we got there we had no idea where the race camping was, and not many people here speak English. After a few failed attempts at getting a taxi, we walked into a small bar where a bunch of old men were drinking wine. After much loud Italian arguing, one of them produced a car key and one of the men got up and motioned he was going to drive us to Camp El Bosco. We had to take the back seat out of his car in order to fit our luggage into the car, and then Eric and I shared the front seat.

Camp El Basco was a very small private campground up in the mountains, about 1 km from the town. We stayed there for 4 nights before the race started and each day they made us breakfast before we went for the most amazing riding in the mountains. Entraque is right next to the Maritime preserve, which is a huge area with lots of hiking, backpacking, and riding. When we were out we saw a lot of older folks out hiking, way out in the middle of nowhere, so impressive.

Today we had to pack up all of our stuff and the campground owner drove us to the sports center where the race started and everyone will be camping tonight. Today's stage was only 5 km long and went through the town through narrow streets with lots of people cheering. The prologue basically determines your starting position for the first stage. Ironbike is based on the Paris to Dakkar car rally. Each day has a time limit, and you get a penaly point for each minute slower than the limit you are. Also, there are 1 or 2 special stages each day, when your time is compared to the winner of the day. For each second slower that the winner you are, you receive a penalty point. The person with the least penalty points wins. The stages are very very long and hard, and some days no one makes the time limit.

I hope to be able to make more posts, but I am not sure I will have internet access since we will be camping the whole time.


raymond said...

I did this race last year, and the Italians are incredibly friendly and helpful. The language is no barrier at all, lots of shouting and arm waving seems to work for everything :-)

Good luck, it's a tough race but very beautiful


Bernice said...

Good luck! Will be thinking of you guys!