Tuesday 3 October 2023

An uphill race that was all down hill

When I first saw this poster for a cycling time trial to the top of our mountain I was so excited thinking one of my favourite riders Vincenzo Nibali, an excellent climber,  was going to be present. Closer examination clarified that the route of the race was one of his training routes.  Since Vincenzo is Sicilian and also has a home in Lugano I imagine he hasn’t climbed Monte Scalambra that often though his wife is from a village not so far from here,  maybe he does wizz to the top when visiting the in laws, I’ll keep my eyes open.

Here is the race profile for anyone who is as enthusiastic about these things as me 

Monte Scalambra from La Forma is a climb in the region Lazio. It is 11.2km long and bridges 893 vertical meters with an average gradient of 7.9%, resulting in a difficulty score of 795. The top of the ascent is located at 1374 meters above sea level

We decided to support the event even without celebrities and Saturday afternoon wandered down to the village to be in place for the 2 pm start.  Oddly there was no one else in the street, we chose a position where the road forked between the village centre and the climb out and up.  After a while the first motorbike arrived, actually a scooter, with a red flag attached to the rear.  The driver stopped to ask us which way to go.  

The riders as in the major tours were set off at intervals, some with a scooter accompanying them some not.   Most of them asked us for directions, clearly the A4 size direction posters were not apparent or well located. We decided to take charge, MrFF who deserved a high viz jacket stood blocking the route into the village centre and pointing the right way while I provided the applause with shouts of bravo and allez allez allez.  The riders were so appreciative, I didn’t want them to waste their breath shouting grazie but they did.

The roads weren’t closed for the race, it was worrying when an elderly couple drove up and started manoeuvring their car into a parking space outside the minimarket, again MrFF took control.  It was even more worrying when the race director, he had an A4 sheet of paper stuck in the back window of his car confirming who he was and was wearing a suitably sporty t shirt.  We assumed he knew the route, it was a choice of two and he was supposedly the man in charge. First he tried to drive into the village centre then came back to ask us the way.  I felt real despair.  He decided to park outside the minimarket then to reverse out again just as a rider was passing, I think he understood our shouts of stop and I hope he realised from our scowls that we thought he was useless.

Another spectator arrived, increasing the crowd by 50% but only to tell us all the riders had passed, so that was it.  I am sure the guys got a good ride out but really it was a disgrace of the usual standard. 

There was very little reporting, just a few badly taken photographs on the village Facebook page, mostly of local dignitaries and the village beauty queen.  I have no idea who won or in what time, I expect because of the staggered start the man with the watch is having difficulty with the calculations.  It was all so very Italian.


  1. But at least it was funny. Hopefully they will be better prepared next time.

  2. No racing here...just chasing after Sloane! lol

  3. I laughed! Sorry but not being there meant I could only see the funny side of it. Very frustrating. Has Enrico turned up yet?

  4. Had to laugh especially the way you told it. At least you got to see some prime examples of Italian athletes!

  5. Oh dear. We have events here in France that are badly organised but that is hysterical!

  6. Just read all the previous comments as I was wondering whether or not to feel guilty for laughing. Pleased to see I was not alone. Back home in North Yorkshire we were outraged to return from holiday in early September to a letter telling us that the main A road between the two major towns that we lie sandwiched between, together with the only alternative cross country route, were to be closed from 9.30am until 4pm for a British cycling time trial although in the case of an emergency we could call for a police escort!