Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Ashes To Ashes...Tuesday 13th August 2013.

Ok, we'll do it slightly different this time around: if you play the vid below then that'll give you almost four minutes to read this drivel, hah-hah!

You better not mess with Merv The Swerve...

Every day I get people stopping to ask me just what my route out to Italy will be, just how long each stage is, how much climbing is involved: you get the picture. Alright, hardly anyone is asking me but that ain't gonna stop me telling you anyway, hah-hah!

So here we go with varying degrees of awfulness...please no rain or headwinds or mechanicals, thanks all the same!

Friday 30th August, stage 1. Warton to Stoke: 80 miles and 1500'

Saturday 31st August, stage 2. Stoke to Fenstanton: 130 miles and 3000'. The 'carrot' is that Palace v Sunderland is on Sky at 5.30pm, so let's get this done. Or not, hah-hah!

Sunday 1st September, stage 3. Fenstanton to Harwich: 90 miles and 2000'

Monday 2nd September, stage 4. The Hook to Venlo: 135 miles and 1000'

Tuesday 3rd September, stage 5. Venlo to Westerburg: 120 miles and 3500'

Wednesday 4th September, stage 6. Westerburg to Marktheidenfeld: 115 miles and 6500'

Thursday 5th September, stage 7.  Marktheidenfeld to Eichstatt: 120 miles and 5000'

Friday 6th September, stage 8. Eichstatt to Bad Aibling: 100 miles and 3000'

Saturday 7th September, stage 9. Bad Aibling to Jochberg: 60 miles and 3000'

At this point I was going to have a quiet rest day...perhaps a couple of beers, just take the mudguards, rack and panniers off the bike in readiness for the proper mountain stages, and kick-back while the 20 or so other eejits are flown out in the lap of luxury to join me.
Then my cycling roomie had a brain-wave and suggested a warm-up climb once he and they had all arrived and got sorted. Regrettably the event organiser (take a bow Mr Ekless!) thought this was a Good Idea.

I can only offer up Team Sky rider Bernie Eisel's words: "It starts off bad and then gets worse and worse all the way up." Lord help us...

Sunday 8th September, stage 10. The profile of The Kitzbuhler Horn, just outside er, Kitzbuhel. 6 miles and 4000'. Take a bow, Il Tractore: already the most popular guy. I would check your brakes...

From there we crack on up the Southern Alps and into The Dolomites, which is pretty much a continuation of last year's Alpine and Pyrenean lunacy. Have I learnt absolutely nothing? Apparently not.

Monday 9th September, stage 11. Jochberg to Oberdrauburg: 90 miles and 9000'

Tuesday 10th September, stage 12. Oberdrauburg to Auronzo: 80 miles and 12000'

Wednesday 11th September, stage 13. Auronzo to Bolzan Bozen: 85 miles and 10000'

Thursday 12th September, stage 14. Bolzan Bozen to Bormio: 80 miles and 9000'...STOP PRESS...my ex-mate has had another bright idea and apparently we're also going up The Gavia so that'll be 110 miles and over 13000'. Oh good.

Friday 13th September, stage 15. Bormio to Bagolino: 80 miles and 10000'

I have been assured (although I'll believe it when I see it) that the following stage on Saturday 14th September is really a bit of a cake-walk to the shores of Lake Garda, followed by a few light ales and much lounging.

Cake-walk, you said. Stats say...50 miles and 4500'. Alright, if means a Birra Moretti then we'll do it!

On the Sunday all the sensible people pack up their shiny carbon fibre bikes and clear-off home to the UK, whereas myself and Il Tractore will accompany our colleagues to Verona Airport but only to collect a hire car and then drive back up to the Alta Badia region. Hang on, didn't we just cycle through there a few days ago?

Yes. Yes we did and evidently we liked it so much that we want to sample it's outrageous gradients one more time. The plan is to tack on three bonus days of misery during which we will tackle one of the worst one day sportives going: Maratona des Dolomites.

Maratona des Dolomites: 85 miles and almost 14000'. Nice.

Once that nonsense is accounted for then I'm all done. End of. It's time to head for Verona and some more light ales, sight-seeing and maybe some opera. Well, we'll see about the opera...

Oh, just one more thing- congratulations to the England cricket team for winning the home Ashes series: in reality it was a lot closer than most people thought it would be between two pretty ordinary (at times) sides.
That said, both teams produced some moments of magic out in the square and during one of my planned 'lulls' in training I was lucky enough to see a couple of day's play at Old Trafford.

I also got to briefly meet one of the giants of recent Australian Ashes teams, Mr Merv Hughes. Intimidating looking still, 'tache and all...but an absolute gent!

Merv's on the left.

Jimmy Anderson gives it some 'Crouching Tiger...'.

Actually, before I close I'll just say THANK YOU to everyone who has sponsored/donated so far. The totals are coming along, with Marie Curie almost at £1200, Teenage Cancer almost £800 and the Royal British Legion lagging at almost £300. Hopefully we're going to change all that.