Two parallel thoughts – springtime cycling in the UK and renewed enthusiasm for La Primavera.
I have had great week’s cycling. A week away and suddenly there is light in the mornings. I have two rides in the morning. I can either go to the station around 7.30 but I much prefer to go out at around 7 and ride the 20 miles/30km to the office when I have time. This week for the first time I could do the longer ride the whole way in the light.
Suddenly its spring, the thick winter cycling top can be put away and I don’t need the lights. I’m sure I was about 5 minutes quicker, and I had a smile on my face the whole way.
Being up that early and cycling also means I can hear a bit of the countryside before the car traffic drowns everything out. And I’m sure the birds sign so much louder now they are into the season. I catch the end of the dawn chorus, I can hear woodpeckers hammering away and the pigeons are full volume. Actually this week’s wildlife gem was in the garden – I heard the distinctive sound of a buzzard call in the sky, the first of the year, almost certainly meaning our local pair are around again. When I spotted then to my astonishment there were four circling in the sky, the most I have ever seen in our area. The high circling flight and the wedge tail are so distinctive, not like the red kites which hover lower and have a forked tail. I grabbed my binoculars and watch for about ten minutes before the birds drifted off to the North. The buzzard is apparently now Britain’s most common raptor, I do see them regularly when riding but it is great to see them at home.
Anyway back to spring cycling.
The other way a cyclist should know that it is spring is because the proper racing has started on the TV – La Primavera – “Springtime” in Italian, or more formally “la classica di Primavera”
Milan San Remo of course.
The longest classic on the calendar is the opener before we are into the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix.
I am addicted to the classics on TV. Most armchair fans know the big stage races like the Giro and the Tour but the classics are something different. I think it’s the fact that there is only one chance and if a rider is on form that day there is a possibility that this is the one. If the Tour is the Premier League then the classics are the FA Cup – with that special possibility that the best riders will win, but on the day anyone could spring a surprise.
Flanders and Roubaix can be run off in horrible conditions, indeed I think Roubaix is diminished without the mud. But La Primavera is truely about the spring. The Italian TV producers know it too, coverage only really starts when the peloton hits the coast. Then it is time for the stunning aerial photos of the coast and the scenes of battle in the sunshine. The Cipressa, the Poggio and then the race along the seafront to San Remo. (Get the flavour with a good English language Milan San Remo web site here.)
This year was a particularly challenging one for me. I was on form, up for the ride, careful not to peak too soon by watching other races and there was a Brit in with a shout in the form of Mr Cavendish.
But how to cope with the clashes. My other sport is rugby. Clashing with the cycle race it was Wales-France with Wales going for the Grand Slam. And worse – I have only two weeks to finish decorating my son’s room before he gets back from uni, and I have been off travelling most weekends.
This is the sort of situation that brings out the creative sports fan.
Cycling on the laptop. Rugby on the TV. Paints in the hand.
NB – Wales win the Slam, England thrashed Ireland on St Patrick’s Day and it was a great finish to MSR, even if the whole bunch did ride against Cav.