Rapha Randonnée Appennini, Report One

Ian Holt, the owner and today’s ride leader from La Fuga swears that the first ‘stage’ that we completed tonight was the most difficult of the week. The longest day and with the steepest climb, the San Pelligrino, where there are two sections on the 17k climb where the road pitches up to 18%. Rumor is that there is one portion of one of those sections that really is more like 22%, which I’d believe after pushing, pulling and wishing myself up the climb along with ten fellow suffering cyclists.

Eros Poli, also known as Monsieur Ventoux was a terrific addition to our peloton today and said that he had never ridden San Pelligrino. He then said that he would be perfectly happy never doing so again.

It was a brutal climb and we’re all the better for it because it was truly magnificent when you arrived at the top.

While we are talking about ‘Poli’, our morning started in Lucca, Italy some seven and a half hours and 165 kilometers earlier. Since 1934 Lucca has been the home of Poli Biciclette, no relation to Eros. With a family history and friendship with the great Campionissimo, Poli is a cathedral to the sport not to be missed. Although the representation of Bianchi bicycles that they have for sale is impressive, it is nowhere near as impressive as the armada of Poli-branded cycles that they’ve sold to what appears to be nearly every local in the beautiful old-walled town.

Day 2 of the Randonnée Appennini tomorrow. Might rain. Fantastic.