Everyone made their respective flights bar one and arrived in Italy full of hope, anticipation and an element of fear. The fear aspect was handled differently by the various personalities. Some, took a sensible route, evening meal, a quiet drink and off to bed for a good night of rest before 70 miles of cycling. However, others (the majority) did not. The excitement was clearly too much and many beers were consumed as old friendships were rekindled and new ones made with the last two calling it a night at 2:30am (respectable).

Breakfast was a wonderful occasion as our happy band of cyclists arrived in various states of ‘personal pain.’ By 8.30am the first group were on the road, followed by another seven groups with the final cyclists departing at 9.30am (the fastest group) who hunted down all the others.

22 miles in and people arrived and departed from a welcome pitstop, the temperature was comfortably in the high 70’s and everyone realised the importance of hydration (non-alcoholic). To give you an idea of how tough the cycling was we had three major hills to negotiate before lunch. The first one was 8 miles from base to summit, the second was 6 miles and to be honest I have no idea about the third as I was in a world of pain and beyond caring by that point!

My personal highlight of the day was when one of the husbands (we have several husband and wife participants) went off to get a drink for a few people including his wife. He returned, handed out the drinks giving his wife a glass. She accepted the drink and ‘chinked glasses with her husband saying…’happy anniversary’ Just looking at his face it was obvious this was ‘news to him.’ In the true sprit of sport, one of his team mates said, ‘in fairness he’s not stopped going on about it all day.’ Crisis averted…. until she reads this!

We only had one accident when two of our cyclists collided, one coming off infinitely better than the other, however, a bit of antiseptic cream and several plaster later and our man was fixed up and good to go.

Bath Rugby’s Todd Blackadder has been ‘a star’ so far, getting around the various groups so they all had the opportunity to talk to him about the season just gone. Believe me, he’s made so many friends by his calm approach and engaging personality. I genuinely believe we’re all excited about the forthcoming season. I know he is.

We’re hopeful of raising in excess of £50,000 for Bath Rugby Foundation, which is the main purpose of the event, but it’s great when you can raise such a significant sum of money and have such a great time doing it (I’ve already forgotten about all the hills and pain I was in earlier today!)

More info after day two of cycling to come.