James Shirley Reports from Finale Ligure

November 05 2012

Jamesy Boy was flying the flag for Orange and TheCycleJersey in Finale Ligure, Italy for the final round of the Italian SuperEnduro. Here's how he saw it:

After a summer full of good times the weather was turning colder, darker and wetter. I therefore set off on an adventure to find the sun, sea and mountains of Finale Ligure in the Italian Riviera. The main purpose of the trip was to smash out a good result in the final round of the popular SuperEnduro series. I arrived, after a looooong drive, at my destination (Residence Glicini) on the Wednesday before the competition to get some sneaky practice in. The course had been taped and sign posted all week. There were 5 timed stages with long steep tarmac switchbacks to link them all together. When I got out on the bike it dawned on me that what I was doing was not so sneaky after all: everyone else was saving their legs by doing shuttle runs instead! Even still, I managed to get 2 practice runs done on each stage and I was starting feel confident about the race.

Despite entering myself in the big boy’s category I was assigned the race number 326. Since there were no seeding runs and only 20second gaps between riders, I knew I was going to have some problems with traffic. After sign-on on Saturday there was a short prologue event through the centre of the village to draw in the evening crowds. I didn’t actually know where I was going for this but after about 40seconds of sprinting between the barriers and along the cobbled streets I had already finished! 

The sun was beating down on Sunday morning when I set off up the first hill carrying all my compulsory clobber in my back pack: full-face helmet, spine board and knee pads. It all seemed a bit unnecessary considering I did three days of practise with just an XC lid on. 

The first stage started with two flat straights before pointing down some steep rocky chutes and into some very fast and very rough trails to the finish. I caught up the first boy on the second significant corner where he kindly crashed out of the way. The next obstacle was an Italian man who held me up for the last quarter of the stage. On the cycle to stage two, I got the craic with the guys in front and they agreed to let me pass the next time around. Unfortunately, stage 2 was a long one and I managed to overtake 6 people on this occasion!

After stage 3, riders were expected to head back to the Piazza where the race started from as a safety precaution in case anyone was struggling. I arrived 10minutes early and helped myself to the free pizza and juice which lay out on the table. I set off again 20seconds after I was supposed to and got given a 1minute time penalty! Damn. I’ll not be fooled by that trick again... I arrived early once again for the start of stage 4 – my favourite. There was a lot of flat pedally stuff to start with but the pace soon picked up and you flew through the trees and over the rocks. Halfway down you were greeted by some horrendously tight switchbacks which you needed to endo round before the last blast to the finish. Despite a small crash and some more trouble in the traffic I finished 16th overall on that stage. Stage 5 was another good one but disaster struck once again as my chain got jammed and I suffered from a rear puncture. I lost a shed load of time as I ran with my bike but I made it to the finish.

Despite the weekend being a bit of a personal disaster, it was a good learning curve. I was very impressed with the SuperEnduro experience and I look forward to the next one.

The rest of the holiday was awesome. Finale Ligure is a beautiful place with so many quality trails - one of my favourite’s being the ‘Madonna Trail’. I took the camera with me and did a day’s filming, the result of which you can watch here.

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