Our last ride before the rest day offered good weather and lots of climbing. The two route options forced your hand early. The last seventy kilometers were the same you just had to decide if you wanted to precede that with a gradual downhill or multiple climbs.
Good morning Alleghe !!!!!
Loading up the wan
Let's get going
SOMEBODY is ready to roll...........
After weighing options El Jefe and I opted to start the day with the downhill and if we were later feeling frisky we could add in some bonus climbing. Putting the choice at the end seemed to lower the risk of blowing up. Also, my training had been focused on completing the routes not trying to keep up with the murderers. This way I wouldn’t hold them up but could end up a big day.
El Jefe' heffing along
We started off in a large group with a rolling descent that reminded me of France. One of the big differences between this trip and our previous exploits in France was that there was so much more traffic on the roads of Italy we were forced to ride single file nearly all of the time. This part of the week reminded me of how much I enjoyed the wonderful side by side riding we had experienced in the French countryside.
Soon the climbing started and as we snaked up a valley we scanned the surrounding mountains trying to predict where we might climb and pass into a different drainage. It was a Monday and this road had less traffic.
Lutz was riding so fast the background was blurry
KB and I took our time. We passed hillside farms and small cottages as we churned up the thousand meter climb.
The climb was generally shady which kept us cool. Occasional breaks for sunshine and views provided motivation not to rush to the top head down, drilling it. We climbed at a conversational pace and nearing the top El Jefe’ sped past us going back down the hill.
Above it all
These were the kilometer markers. Because the climbs were so steep they actually had these every tenth of a kilometer. This reads as 20.4km.
Could KB be any more Euro ? I don't think so
Davo nearing the top the FIRST time
When we reached Passo d’Brocon our group had reformed and I refilled my bottles. A minute later we began one of the best descents of the entire trip. Clean dry pavement, sunshine and the knowledge that tomorrow was a rest day conspired to make the descent a blast.
As we neared the bottom I pulled over and took a long drink. I let the others go past. I spun my bike around and began to climb back up the twisty road I had just come down. I know I couldn’t keep up with the murderers on a climb but I can hang on a descent. I would go back up until I met them descending then I would ride the rest of the day with them.
As I was climbing I should have been wobbly legged from four days of epic rides. This trip was like RAMROD every day. At my age you just shouldn’t be able to do that.
Instead I found a rhythm and locked my HR in low zone three and I just started flying up the hill. I felt strong and I watched the meters tick past as I climbed up and up. I wondered when I would meet the murderers.
I kept going and when I had less than a hundred meters of climbing left I sped up and kept a good pace across the rollers at the top of the Passo. I reached the summit and spotted the fast guys getting ready to roll out.
They were as surprised to see me as I was that I had gone all the way back to the top before intercepting them. Almost on queue El Jefe rolled up and together the five of us formed a paceline and set off on the descent.
With Whiplaesch in the lead we snaked down the switchbacks toward our hotel in Spera. A car stopped in our lane caused some sphincter clenching but soon we returned to our graceful downhill bike ballet. McWoodie and Mr. Party Pants stayed tight on Brad’s wheel while El Jefe and I had to work to stay on.
I'll add a video here after I download and edit it...
After we got down from the mountain El Jefe and I found ourselves off the back and we worked together. We had both supersized our day and already had over three thousand meters of climbing in our legs.
Finding the hotel without the GPS route would have been impossible and we were glad for the technology that delivered us there. It is beautiful but I am reminded I am a strange man in a strange land.
I miss Hottie and I’m tired and ready for a rest day. At dinner one of our group sadly announces he must return home due to an emergency. Our hearts go out to him. It is another reminder of just how fragile this whole experience is.
View from our hotel. Yeah, I know.
I mentioned in an earlier post all the things that have to go right just to get to the start of one of these trips. In addition there are so many things that have to go right once you are here.
First off, you have to sleep when you are supposed to sleep. Jet lag, communications with home, excitement, the goofy schedule and exhaustion all combat getting a good night’s sleep. You also have to eat when you can and digest when you must. This is easier said than done and I am not going to elaborate on that anymore herein.
Your bike is also having an epic experience and needs tender loving care but you are exhausted and the desire to defer something as simple as lubing your chain is strong. The language and cultural issues are what you signed up for but they do add some complexity to the equation. You need to be diligent about sunscreen, chamois cream(s), hydration, electrolytes, heart rate, nutrition, caloric intact (ridiculous), weather, hygiene and clothing.
The worst thing about the whole trip was Horst getting sick and not being able to ride with us every day. Horst gave one of us the stink eye regarding this. There will be one less Chismus card coming to America this year........