What's Cool In Road Cycling

HomeGRRL: Calender Shots & Hunting the Big One

As our HomeGrrl Rook Campbell settles into the confusion that is Italian life, she finds an internet connection that works and drops us a line: “I have some new team photos, so I wrote a quick update… We’re going into a week of training camp before the next stages races, at Trentino and then the Giro.”

Rook and the Michela Fanini team take time to visit their sponsors and pose for photos.

Managing the Water Boy
Though many guys would love to have the job of living in the team house and providing massages, it’s probably not such a hot job sometimes, or maybe most of the time. We try to make life easier for the man on our team with this job, but he’s stubborn and sensitive at times. All injuries, whether burns, muscle pulls, or road rash are offered the same cream, which we all just call “crema blu”. We accept it, but then use the creams we purchase directly from the pharmacist, where we can be assured of contents and reactions.

But, it’s the lack of clean water bottles and fresh water in the bottles that keeps us having to double do his job at times. We try not to hurt his feelings, as he can take this quite personally. Though the team car often follows us for longer team rides in the mountains, we race to the fresh fountains on the roadside rather than return to our team car that has a cold cooler full of water left over from the last race.

When we have to take the bottles, we immediately pour them out or have to toss them to the roadside or off mountains. I’ve felt kind of wasteful and bad throwing away so many water bottles, a few daily, but in truth, it saves us from a potential whole-house plague. My teammate, Maya Adamsen, is a zookeeper, and she tells us stories of testing animal water or water left over night for bacteria growth, and these stories keep us vigilant in insuring only fresh bottles and water are available in this house.

Turns out visiting sponsors in Italy often involves a full team effort jus to get there.

Calendar Girl Shots
The time was overdue for official team photos, so we dedicated one day of training to visit all the factories, homes, and offices of our sponsors to take photos. Our team president keeps our team image very much in the Fanini style: Toscana, very Italian, and a bit crazy. I discovered that the little black rectangles on the bottom of Look cleats are good for keeping you on a freshly waxed car hood while wearing lycra, though they may not save you on the slick coffee shop floors or steps.

Hunting The Big One
Despite the entertainment of little detours from the average day, what we are missing is a victory. The lack of a proper victory has never been quite so deeply felt like this. We keep coming up with second and third place podium finishes, and the energy and happiness of our team society is looking more and more desperate.

In the Trofeo Rivera della Versillia, I launched off the front in a break that lasted for close to 50km. It was a rather nice stint, and not the complete suicide mission as is often the case in the pre climbing long break. When the motorcycle’s showed signs of a gap of almost 3 minutes, I feared the size of gap doomed us. Three minutes would not be tolerated and allowed to sneak away with a sudden second gunning.

A solid collective pull back by team S.S. Lazio was in full chase. On the first of three laps on a 4.5 k climb circuit, we were reeled in at the summit. A little time for recovery, and on the second circuit, I tried to cover a break to find that there wasn’t going to be much more action left in my legs for the day, so I just tucked myself behind a big wheel and hid in the pack.

Teammate Alessandra Borchi took over the aggressive counter attack, but this break was not afforded much daylight before our efforts of control were toppled with some proper out and out climbing. In the end, we had two in the top ten, though we had ridden rather well collectively.

The Shoe Shot: Every sponsor wants a specific pose.

But what we need is a Big One, but that hasn’t stopped us from having a small subdued celebration of Maja Adamsen’s third place at the Trofeo Pasquale De Carlo, as it marks the beginning of likely regular podium visits for her. I tried to surprise her with some kitchen inventiveness, making her “liquorizia” gelato, as she has that homegrown Danish love of liquorish/liquorizia everything. She ate the whole thing with a smile and wants more, so I guess it was good.

A Well Turned Ankle No More
Just as I was feeling more get up and go, I woke to an extreme case of water retension in my foot. It’s an old injury, mainly just loads of scare tissue, with some occasional lingering flare ups, but this time was some serious insanity. It was the localized breakout of hives that declared this a time for immediately care, thus, I found myself in the hospital. While my foot is now looking more like a foot and less like a club, and I’m bike up and ready, I had to sit the weekend’s races out, as I await the proper filing and clearance of medical proceedings from the UCI and USADA. Filing and obtaining the proper paperwork with cycling’s doping control agency is super important business, and I feel good that the doctors and team directors all have vested interest in insuring that all medical dealings, no matter how small, are properly filed before we are given permission to race.

Rook Campbell is a 28 year old American pro racer living in Lucca and riding with the Michela Fanini team. She regularly shares her experiences of the road grit, euphoria, and stupor of being a professional cyclist in Europe.
You can email her at [email protected].

Visit the team website: MichelaFanini.com

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