Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Celebration Day...Saturday 14th September 2013.

Not their finest hour maybe but pretty good all the same!

We had a more relaxed start today owing to the reduced mileage- only about 35 miles to the finish by the north end of Lake Garda. There was a drag of a climb though before our coffee stop and our semi-pro rider/ Marco Pantani a-like, Nick, went chasing after some local speed-merchant. I tried to go with them too just for a laugh and I managed to stick it for 500 yards before my HR hit 250bpm! Folly, but fun...

Standard-issue faff.

Make it a Prosecco and you're nearer the mark!

Still going. Still needs a wash.

Still laughing out loud at views like this...

...and this...

...and this lot too. Nick Pantani stops for a slash. Nice!

Not so much 'How!' as 'Why?'.

The coffee-stop had some locals imbibing some chilled fizz which looked so, so inviting: so much so, that Il Tractore and myself enjoyed a glass or two as well as some delicious aperitif nibbles. Surely this is how cycling should be?

Our 'coffee' stop. Diet of champs. Allegedly!

For this final stage we were all suited-and-booted in the team jersey. Not the most flattering view, perhaps.

After that was enjoyed we then proceeded to chase down a group who had set-off earlier...Gawd knows what wattage Il Tractore was churning out and I struggled to hold his wheel at times, never mind try and take a turn at the front. I think this was rightly looked upon as a last hurrah: we caned the next ten miles in a ridiculous fashion and duly caught the Valley Dwellers on the outskirts of Torbole. Legal drug use, you can't beat it...

We chased down four of our group who had been given a head-start. Possibly the hardest and definitely the fastest 10 miles all week, hah-hah!

If it's good enough for Guardiola etc....

Other supermarkets are available. But good on WR for their sponsorship...nice work John!

On the final run to the beach. Feeling good!

Our team-leader Simon Ekless, despite still recovering from his exhaustion was there to meet us on the beach with a crate of beer and some fizz. I've always said he was alright!

There was such a tangible feeling of accomplishment and goodwill: it makes all the temporary hardships worthwhile. At the risk of sounding trite, our discomfort is temporary while the people who we are trying to help have things very different and a lot tougher. Every day.

Done it!
Smiles and beers all round. Bemused Lake Gardians though, hah-hah!

What, with these legs?

Not quite Halle Berry or Ursula Andress. Mercy!

Hard to imagine a finer spot to end that stage of the tour. Lucky to have been a part of it.

From there we were given the choice of putting our bikes in the van and being driven the mile-and-a-bit up to our hotel. Drive? At this point? No chance, so we saddled-up and pointed our front wheels skywards for the final time.
A nice easy bimble is what it should've been but I had the bright idea of sprinting past everyone which had the desired effect of getting Nick to take it up and fly up the climb at warp-speed. I came back to him but he merely shouted some colourful words and disappeared up the road again. It's nonsense like that that makes the day more memorable and fun!

The rest of the day was spent reliving the adventure with the rest of the team over a few ales, and then a celebratory dinner. Sleep came easy...

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