Our second race trip of the year took us to Lake Garda. We got a bargain on an airbnb in San Felice at the southern end of the lake just east of Salo. We took a bit of a gamble, the place had no reviews and we were the first airbnb guests to stay there. By the time you added up the discount for being the first once to book and booking for a month we had 60% off. The kind of cheap that is too good to be true and you wonder if the place will even exist!
So, we arrive and there it is, our 3-bedroom house with garden and swimming pool, home for the month!
We had two and half weeks to get settled and enjoy the mountains before racing Xterra Italy, and it very quickly became clear that this would probably be the hardest race I had ever done! With around 800m of climbing per 15km lap I really was wondering how I would make it around 2 laps of the bike course let alone take on an 11km run course with 500m of climbing.
Thank goodness we had so long to recce the course. Not only were the climbs crazy hard but the descents were just as hard. Steep, rocky and technical. I needn’t say anymore. All was going well and I was feeling good ahead of race day, but it didn’t all go to plan. Doug took a bit of a tumble and ended up with a very sore elbow. The next day we decided that it was probably best to go and get it x-rayed so we got to experience the delights of the Italian medical system.
So for any who finds themselves in an Italian hospital, here are a few things that may be useful
- Make sure you have your European health insurance card – emergency medical treatment is free with this. The one off fee isn’t applicable unless it turns out you only have a cold!
- You can get a copy of your x-rays on cd-rom for a fee of ~5 euros. Bargain you say. Well yes except the nhs are not able to use cd-roms so won’t be able to use them if you need follow up treatment when back in the UK.
- Follow up appointments are not free – you will probably spend a large amount of time with several doctors around a table (one of them probably smoking a cigarette) deciding how much money you need to pay.
- Always get a second opinion.
Doug had fractured his radial head. They put him in a plaster cast with a follow up appointment booked for the next week to see how it was healing. On returning they x-rayed his elbow (through the plaster cast) and decided that it wasn’t healing, and he needed surgery immediately. The consultant looked as though he’d had a little too much to drink at lunchtime and without being able to fit him in for another couple of days we decided we would pass. So out came the scissors and off came the cast!
Back to the race. I survived! I even finished 3rd on a course that couldn’t have been less suited to me. I’m still not sure if I enjoyed this one though but I really did enjoy a fantastic month of super hard training in Italy.
From Italy we flew straight into Belgium and got the train to the City of Namur. Getting the train in Belgium is so easy, even with a lot of luggage and a couple of bikes! We were a little disappointed by our airbnb having been living in luxury for the month but we couldn’t complain with only a 200m walk from the station and a 50m walk to an incredible bakery!
The race was in a stunning location and although there wasn’t as much elevation as in Italy, there was an extra 12km on the bike course to tackle. Still carrying some fatigue from a hard race and training in Italy I didn’t have the best race but still managed enough to finish second.
Two great races and other than a broken elbow a fantastic trip. Doug is healing well and is back racing already. He didn’t need surgery for what turned out to be a minimally displaced fracture. A huge thank you to all our doctor friends in the UK for all the support and advice!