We arrived in Recanati at 3:30 in the afternoon to register for Fondo Leopardiana. The ride organizers knew we were coming, and we had received the following email from the ride director a day earlier:
Dear Jack (and Bike Boyz)
I am glad to know that you and your team will be part of the Fondo Leopardiana on Sunday. It’s the first time we have an American team in our race, it is an honor for us, we hope you will enjoy the beauties of the Marches, this will be also an occasion to expand the knowledge of our wonderful region to the other side of the ocean…you will be our promoters in the States! ;). I have just seen the cycling kit you will wear for the Fondo on your blog: it is very nice and very original too!
We look forward to meet you on Sunday! You will be welcome!
Agostino Nina (for the Ciclo Club Recanati).
Needless to say, we were pumped! We studied the route maps and profiles posted at the registration area, and learned that this was primarily a RACE, not a RIDE. It was part of a Gran Fondo Race series throughout Italy and lots of fast riders would be competing.
They also told us that they wanted us to start at the front of the race. We were the first American team ever to participate. And after the race, the mayor wanted to greet us.
We were feeling like celebrities as we climbed back into the Andiamo vans and headed to the small town of Loreto, 7 km down the road, where we would be staying for the night.