XTERRA Italy - 1 Day to Go

By Dave “Kahuna” Nicholas

We talk and write about Scanno in Abruzzo always telling everyone how magical this place is.  Some of you must be tired of hearing it by now – but the plain truth is this place IS magical.  Let me tell you a story.

Within the first 300m of the start of the bike riders must cross the only road that leads to Scanno.  Not that this is a big highway, to the contrary, it is a small, rural two-lane road.  This means it always has some traffic.  After last year the local Carabinieri said “basta – no more” because of traffic problems.  They would not allow XTERRA to cross this road.

The organizers came up with an ingenious solution to this insurmountable problem that could only be Italian.  There is a small bridge over the creek that comes from the mountains to Lago diScano that is exactly at the spot where the bike crosses the road.  Local construction men looked at the problem and created a nice sloping path from the trail down to the creek leading under the bridge.  No problem you say?  Except that the creek is about 2-3’ deep and is running full tilt down the hill.  On the other side of the bridge there is nothing but 90 degree walls.  Easy to get down and under the bridge, but how do you get back out, scale the walls and onto the trails?

Italian ingenuity, engineering and art made it efficient and beautiful.  The men cut 4×4’s to the exact width of the walls under the bridge.  There was a small lip of about 6”s and the long boards were placed on the ledge and wedged so they would not move.  Then ¾” (19mm) thick boards were nailed along the 4×4’s creating approximately a 5’ (1.5m) wide wooden path that was inches above the bubbling water.  Not too difficult so far – but how do you scale that 10’ wall?

The men nailed in more 4×4’s in a radial patter making a right hand turn.  They secured this with more top boards and a truck brought in 20’ long (6m) poles that were about 8” (20cm) thick.  These were more than strong enough to hold a dozen bikers.  Men then cleared the top of the hill alongside the road – cut and fit blocks of wood so the ramp would be level at the top and nailed it all in place.

So how did it all work out?  We made the decision that while the entire bridge was ridable; having 450 crazy XTERRAists arriving at this structure at the same time was a recipe for disaster.  So athletes will dismount and run the boards until they clear the top and continue on up the mountain.  Riders will cross under the road twice and after, this Wonder of Abruzzo will be taken away to return next year.


The rest of preparations are going very well.  Massimo, Alex and their band of men and women are making the place gorgeous.  The level of the lake is down a bit, but not a problem.  Signs and banners are spread all over the village, people are smiling and waving as riders go down and up the streets and steps of Scanno.  After 5 years the residents have embraced our sport and are happy to have us here.  Latest news is that Nicole Waters and Doug Hall will not make the race.  Roger Serrano looks very fit, tanned and relaxed.  Renata Bucher has the eye of the tiger and do not be surprised at her result on Sunday.  The weather is absolutely perfect and the forecast is for more of the same all the way to next Monday.  We’re ready to race now, by Sunday the entire field will be more than ready to go.

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