After the first edition of the Jeroboam 300, some participants complained the route was a bit too easy (if you can say such a thing about a 300km ride). Nobody had the same complaint this year, as the route was truly epic and very, very challenging.
The numbers (300km in length, over 6km in elevation) only tell half the story. A better indication is that of the 105 people brave enough to confront this challenge, less than half finished. With a 9am start time on Saturday, the first riders finished at 4:30am on Sunday, nineteen and a half hours later.
The final group took over 36 hours to complete the course, rolling in at 9:30pm on Sunday night. Among that group were two 3T staff members, who amazingly reported to work the next morning. One of them even seemed awake!
The majority of the course was made up of gravel and RLT (roadslesstravelled) and in particular the last category contained very difficult sections. At the aide station at 107km, most participants realized the toughest part was still ahead of them, with trails full of exposed roots and rocks, twisty climbs and even twistier descents. If that wasn’t enough, all but the fastest three riders would have to contend with the most hazardous stretches at night.
I spent a lot of time at the finish talking to the riders as they slumped in, and many asked if we planned to make the route easier next year, as seems to be the trend with some gravel races (the thought being that people want something that’s tough but if less than 90% finish, there are too many complaints online and your event won’t grow). Despite this, our answer is a resounding NO (which was usually met with approval).
It’s not that we don’t want people to finish, we do, but we also want it to be really, really tough, a real accomplishment that not many can pull off (and I know I’ll be training my butt off the next 12 months to be a finisher). Additionally, we don’t want to “tame” the terrain into some “format”, we want the terrain to dictate how tough the ride is.
And the area of Franciacorta is one of the most beautiful of Italy, littered with vineyards and with Lago d’Iseo to the West and Lago di Garda to the East. But it is also one of the toughest terrains you’ll find.
Speaking of vineyards, Jeroboam 2018 also featured once again its Family ride, a 37.5km “Demi” ride with a wine tasting stop in the middle. Needless to say, good times were had by all, and the tour of the caves where the wine is stored (including hundreds of 3 liter “Jeroboam” bottles from which the ride gets its name).
In-between those two extremes, the 75km “Standard” ride was popular as ever, a great combination of stunning scenery and calf-biting climbs. The 150km “Magnum” was turned into a road ride for the occasion, revealing even more stunning beauty, but will likely return to a gravel/RLT format for 2019.
Once back to the start, the town of Erbusco put on a great festival with live music, games for the kids, an expo and food & wine.
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