The flat time trial is already finished (results here); the fever is rising towards Sunday where Monte Bondone defiantly awaits. I'm staying in the village of Sopramonte: it's on the final climb that leads to Candriai where the descent towards the finish line will begin.
Every day you see more and more riders exploring the road; some dragging themselves uphill; others have a swift pace. The residents watch the display with wonder and interest. Here and there you will see a sign announcing that the road will not be open to traffic. It won't stop you, as a participant, from always being wary of the man or woman who doesn't care about this and wants to enter the road unexpectedly from his or her driveway.
Picking up the race pack and the goodies is the unofficial starting shot for me. You get your race number, your chip, an access card for the places where others shouldn't be and of course your ticket for the pasta party afterwards (usually my stomach is still completely wasted after the race, so it's hard to get anything down your throat). Placing the chip and pinning on your back number are sacred moments of concentration and reflection. However, because the temperature will drop significantly on Sunday, it is difficult to decide which jersey I will put on: the summer or fall jersey? What a dilemma while images of Ukraine flash by on the TV screen...
The gadgets, of course, are always interesting, too. The organizers have made it quite difficult to get them, because you have to register first, of course, and nobody reminds you that for that socks of Christmas gifts you have to be around the corner from three young ladies, who make no attempt to offer anything at all. A sports nutrition sponsor makes a donation as usual, the neck warmers are clearly becoming more popular than the water bottle, and a savings bank provides a pair of glasses (probably because you can't see the interest on their savings account anymore). The kid in me always wakes up upon opening the bag; it's nice to get something between Easter and Christmas, too.
The countdown can begin. One more training, some easy riding, try to sleep well and hope for a good day!