After 7 months of confinement to the walls of Manchester Velodrome, the sprint academy were unleashed and headed for Montichiari, Italy.
Greeted by both the ‘Welcome to Italy’ text and the bank telling me my card had been hacked. I landed with mixed emotions… Double session days were thrown around in the schedule like weights in a gym but with a decent weather report coming up, it was set to be a good holiday or camp as the coaches kept calling it.
We found the house in pretty good condition and with 4 fridges, 2 kitchens, and a ping pong table everyone was happy. Walking in to the triple bunk bed room was interesting, especially with the boys grinning from ear to ear after seeing their double rooms next door. In fairness, it did end up being fun. Well, for people in the bottom bunks anyway, apparently the air is difficult to breathe on the top bunk? The house was conveniently down the road from a church, with the loudest bells in Italy. We were incredibly thankful to hear the bells every hour at such close proximity, obviously.
Being a newbie to this world of cycling, I would say people raved to me about the Montichiari track. But on first impression, I couldn’t say I was raving with them. With puddles dotted around the apron, a mop to wipe away wet patches and builders running down the track between efforts. Along with a genuine fear for your life whilst trying to ride the fence, on the few boards above the slippy adverts. It was a unexpected experience for me. After learning where these puddles and patches were, I started to see what was so special about the track. I can’t really describe it, but for starts it’s definitely a pretty cool place to practice. PB’s scattered themselves across the camp and whilst times got quicker morale got higher and higher. When the track was actually open, not closed for the owners neighbour’s cat’s birthday or some other excuse, we were there having a ball.
The gym became what can only be described as a sweatbox, but with no mirrors around no one really cared. A classic old school crossfit set up. With only two racks, sessions were a squeeze and consequently the group did end up splitting in two so everyone could fit their session in. Rather fantastically, this then meant I could be in a later starting group, i.e. more sleep. A happier Milly. Cleans flying up and squats grinding down, the sessions were going well. After one session we were treated to meat from the owners farm, it disappeared ridiculously quickly but, it was delicious and what a great way to end a session. Yummy!
If morale was counted in scoops of ice cream, we had a fair few of both. When in Rome and all that… with Penguino (an Italian form of chocolate ice cream mixed with white chocolate to create a masterpiece) and a heavenly Hazelnut being strong squad favourites. Cafe Creama’s were also a major discovery and hit amongst the team. With just two cafes in the main square of Montichiari the waitress’ began to understand our tragic attempts of Italian. Admittedly however, being limited to Ciao and Si as a group, did hinder our linguistic capabilities slightly. After discovering one spoke English, the failing ‘point and hope’ technique was finally abandoned. Although Mehdi may have taken it too far when he questioned why if she was training to be an Opera singer in Italy, why she isn’t she significantly overweight?
Meals out were always a lot of fun with the team, we could pretend to be normal for a few hours not drenched in sweat, covered in lycra and wishing we weren’t in a chamois. If anyone didn’t already know Italians do some pretty incredible pizzas. A highlight would have to be the swan that decided to join our table one night and wanted to try some food. Or the time we drove from Lake Garda to a local restaurant a few miles from the house (around 30mins) waited around 20mins for it to open (in a run down dusty old car park with a stray dog barking at us) to then give up waiting and just drive back to Lake Garda because we all knew a restaurant there was unbeatable. It was definitely worth it. It maybe however wasn’t worth the van getting broken into, which wasn’t such a fun discovery. Unfortunately for our coach his laptop was taken, we all hoped this meant no training plans for the next few days.
Living in the house was all of Sprint Academy ft. Special guests, World Champs Helen Scott (Scottie) and Matt Rotherham. After being sold to them as a little camp to help the Academy riders, we were very appreciative they stayed after it became more like the Tour de Italy for them. As they rode what was described as the length of the country, whilst we rode a few 1/4s of a lap a day. They undoubtedly also brought the standard of cooking to new heights. Rotherziki (a unique mix of yoghurt, vegetables and various adhock ingredients) became essential for all meals, and Scottie’s delicious thai green (that was red because we couldn’t find thai green paste) curry will now always be remembered. Plus Matt’s dedication to a decent coffee in the mornings after bringing a full coffee machine set up was greatly appreciated amongst the team. Not all heroes wear capes.
Shout Outs must include Louise Burnie, who after the stress of having half the equipment she needed for her PHD study arriving after her outward plane was scheduled, was always smiling. Mehdi Kordi who never seises to make everyone laugh, and had an absolute storm when tasked with music duty. Dan McPartlan, who in typical Dan the Man fashion, made sure everyone was lifting big. Even though, he did ditch us after a week for the enduros, we couldn’t have been more appreciative for the time he gave us. Matt and Scottie because they added some pretty special vibes to the camp that not many others could have. Their experience of the sport and humour was in abundance and everyone couldn’t get enough. Last but no means least, Kev. The man, the myth, the legend. How much he cared to make everyones camp the best it could be is something none of us have taken for granted.
So, if you can’t already tell my first International camp was pretty good fun. Bring on the rest of the summer…
3 thoughts on “Montichiari Camp ft Van Burglary”
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Great read Milly Bob xoxo
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Hello Milly, how are you doing? wow nice work you have there..
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