Mario Cipollini

Gran Fondo 2012

Appreciating a cycling hero...

The seemingly inevitable consequence of a late night of festivities is the revision of early morning riding plans. Had the great man assumed that he could rely on such machiavellian shenanigans to disuade the enthusiastic hordes he was much mistaken.

An evening of entertainment, dinner, questions to the mighty Mario, and Matt Stephens’ fantastic after dinner speech set the tone for a cycling obsessed weekend. A convivial atmosphere purveyed the evening as all thoughts of competition (not permitted in such events) were dissolved by a combination of humour and alcohol.

Come the morning an early start was critical to stay ahead of the weather. All were inspired by the previous evening’s talk of stage wins, San Remo and secretions (Matt Stephens). The route itself also proved inspiring with coastal views, quiet roads, and classic climbs in the Mendip Hills.

Staying ahead of the weather was happily assisted by a fresh spring breeze, which unfortunately also carried the weather with it. Riders were alternately treated to sunny spells and rain washed clear views, and the cleansing benefits of rain and hail showers.

As we are well aware, the hardy Brit revels in such conditions, and will cheerfully persist in the face of the ultimate meteorological madness. It’s possible that Mario was not so keen on the conditions, fully attired, as he was, for winter, a shock compared to the Italian spring he had been enjoying 24 hours earlier. The great man (by and large) retained his humour and convivial nature, riding with most people through the course of the day, and adding an inspiring exoticism to the roads of Somerset.

Thanks to Palligap (event sponsor), looking forward to next year!

Strong look, right on!