My second bikepacking race ever was the ITALY DIVIDE, a 935km self supported non-stop adventure with 15’000m difference in altitude. It follows fast rolling gravel roads with quite a few technical MTB trails (Via degli Dei/Monte Baldo).
I explored the wild and remote Italy with a nice mix of history along the trail. During this adventure starting at the historical centre of Rome, I cycled through Siena, Florence, Bologna, Verona, Mantova and finally arrived in Torbole on the shore of lake Garda after crossiing two big mountains.
The countless nice places I passed.
The great Italian food - in restaurants or on the bike ;-)
The contrast of remote, lonesome biking and then crossing the nice historical cities.
A lot of nice bkepacking collegues I met before, during and after the race.
The hospitality of the Parparo Vecchio team cooking great food and offered dry place to sleep when I arrived late in the night. At 3 a. m. I was just ready to jump on the bike a storm passed and I had to wait 4 hours longer than planned. After checking the position of the ohter riders, I realized, that two Czech colleagues I met so many times before, were freezeing in front of the door. I let them in and we waited till the storm passed.
Cycling in the night and early mornings is like being on drugs - absolutely addictive.
Navigating with my GARMIN Oregon 720 was a real nightmare.
1. Due to very similar color of the actual track and some roads I I got lost several times and had to make big detours. This is very frustrating and a real flow killer.
2. I had to change batteries minimum every 4 hour.
I returned the device back to GARMIN, they did a warranty exchange, I paid some extra so I have a new Garmin Edge 1030 for the next tour :-)
The side effect from extrem long riding is that I get numb fingers and tows. It is way better than after the NAVAD 1000 last year, but still, it takes months to be back in original condition.
Another health issue are the bloated feets/legs and the blisters on my ass, but furtunately this is healing pretty quickly.
I had a head-on collision with a biking woman coming on the wrong side around a corner shortly before Bologna. Beside some minor scratches, a broken break lever and grip nothing serious. After a repair stop in a nice bike shop I was able to continue.
Find my speed, listen to my inner voice instead of trying to follow others.
I hate power gels (aka robo food) but sometimes its better than to run out of energy.
Always take an extra litre of fresh water with you, running out of water is about the worst thing that can happen.
Enjoy the highs and overcome the lows.