I don’t often travel to the same place twice, unless it is to meet family or friends. There is simply too much world to discover and too little time to travel. But with the Italian Dolomites I made an exception.
If you have been following my blog, you may have read a post from a year ago, where I enthused about Maratona D’les Dolomites – a legendary one-day cycling race in the Italian Alps (read my last year’s article here). The trip was so fantastic that I wanted to experience it again. Maybe there was also a little niggling thought in my mind about wanting to improve my earlier result and beat the mountains properly.
One thing that repeating a trip makes possible is a wonderful sense of calmness. I knew exactly what to expect from the race so my preparation focused on the essentials, rather than worrying about small details which may or may not happen.
For one, I was concerned last year about the impact of altitude on my performance. I knew this time that Maratona is not a heart rate, stamina game but rather a real test of the longitude of one’s leg-power. You need to be able to peddle even when your legs have had their peak a long time ago. This was the focus of my interval training prior to the race.
I thought last year that every part of Italy is blessed with roasting weather in July. Wrong! Altitudes of more than 2,000 metres can be freezing, particularly when racing down faster than 60km/h. That is why I knew to pack with me a warm base layer, arm and leg warmers and a raincoat.
I knew what to expect with the cycling route and the different hill climbs. This meant that I knew when to save my energies, and when to speed up so that I could improve my overall time.
Knowing what was coming, gave me a chance to relax a little and enjoy the race. The organisers had added little flags on the name plates to signify contestants’ nationality. The nice thing about being from a small country like Finland is that you are always one of the few, and this makes you a little ‘special’. During my cycle I met a few other Finns as well as received some comments from the fellow cyclists in broken Finnish. Hearing: “Kristiina, minä rakastan sinua!” (“I love you”) or “Hyvä Kristiina” (“well done!”) made it definitely easier to get through some of the last kilometres.
To get slightly different flavour of the Dolomites, we stayed in a different village than last year. Our hotel, Alpin Apartments Piculin, was located in San Martino in Badia, about 15km from the race course. The hotel didn’t blow us away but still was a comfortable base for our stay.
Next to the hotel, we particularly liked the restaurant, Ostaria Posta, which served the nicest beef tagliata and had really friendly service.
There is never a chance to experience once more ‘your first time’. It is difficult, if not impossible, to feel the same enthusiasm you do when you first see the peaks of the Italian Alps, go through your first series of hairpins on your bike or even when you go past the finish line of Maratona D’les Dolomites. Nevertheless, experience can improve your trip as you are returning to something that you know you’ll love and you know how to be the best prepared to make the most of it!
How about you? Do you always grave for something new or like to return to the known? I’d love to hear about your experiences, too!
Via Piculin 18, San Martino, Badia Dolomites
Tel: +39 0474 523 364
1-39030 San Martin de Tor
Tel: +39 0474 52 3128
Credit to majority of photos to Sportograf.com
(c) Nordic Odyssey 2014. All Rights Reserved.