Thursday, 12 September 2013

I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down...Thursday 12th September 2013

Bearing in mind four of us fell-off today there was only one song choice...

Thankfully all of the spills were at low-speeds but un-thankfully I was one of the stunt-cyclists and landed on my right blood, just bloody sore, hah-hah! Probably bruised pride but I was fine to least as well as I was before at any rate!

The faff before the falls started!
Upstanding citizens. Not for long.

Dennis Waterman's chair?

Picturesque but busy.

Much more like it...loadsa orchards yet no cider?

We had a smidge over 50 miles to lunch and the start of the climb, mainly along busy roads but also bizarrely an orchard, or an apple vineyard as one of the chaps referred to it. Mind you, this is the same fella who used Google to find the Italian word for Cannelloni. No names, no pack-drill. Take a bow, Ant. Tremendous.

The trudge up The Stelvio begins...15 miles and 48 hairpins. Pizza cake.

Ice-cold and so inviting looking...

Would rather it was a steak house though.

Bit of mugging for Sue's camera, hah-hah!

Bit of a view. Can do better...

...yes, getting better...

...yeah, I may be struggling but this helps...

Dig in son!

Caution: wide load. Don't look up. Or down, for that matter!

Oh, so we're not too wrecked to show-boat then?

Every climb we do, I ask myself "Did we really do that?". Still not sure we did!

2700m up. 2hrs and 50mins of slog. So, so chuffed. And cold, hah-hah!

Could've climbed in to be honest. Perishing outside, thanks.
Andy and myself adjoined to the nearest ski-lodge/cafe for reviving coffee, hot chocolate, Mars Bars, long as it was hot and/or had loadsa calories then it was fair game. We met another bunch of Brits who had climbed Il Stelvio from the other (easier, ahem...) side, and I was indebted to one of them who gave me a newspaper to use as a wind-cheater for the descent. Cheers!

This was me only a few hours ago. Hard to take in.

From the top of the descent from the other side...the highest pass in Italia!

This was a real hard day again, as it was meant to be, and it saw another rider hospitalised briefly for altitude sickness and some other guys put in the broom-wagon. Again, Andy and I were the first guys back to the hotel at about 6.30pm...for this tour, that qualifies as an early finish and worthy of a beer. So we did!

Let me assure you, we seriously depleted our hotel's stock of pasta that night...and a vino rosso or two of course.

Extra, extra...the fourth estate was a life-saver to be honest as the descent was a wee bit baltic!

Twenty Flight Rock...Wednesday 11th September 2013.

"Get to the top, I'm too tired to rock!"

We had biblical rain-fall during the night but lo and behold those blue skies and heightened moods! Everyone was looking and feeling a ton better (more on that in a minute...) or maybe they were just glad to be heading away from our basic acco., hah-hah!
Whatever the case, I felt able to push on a wee bit and head-up the first climb...

Hello Mr Blue Sky!

Leading the rabble up the first climb and then down into Cortina...

Cortina. Not twinned with Dagenham.

Il Tractore joined me for the beautiful descent into bijou Cortina and a search for a coffe stop that everyone else would see. Pete The Strudel was already on the case, hah-hah!

On the start of the climb out of Cortina I suffered a slight mechanical which totalled my front derailleur, meaning that I have lost the top nine gears. Seeing as how we're going uphill that isn't a drama...I was just thrilled to be mobile still!

This faff was put right into perspective when we learned that our team leader had been hospitalised with suspected altitude sickness: and this guy is a seasoned, proper cyclist...brings you up short.

And we go up again from Cortina...minus 9 gears for some of us...

Another scalp. In hideous attire. Natch.

After a hearty lunch we set about more vertical nonsense, this time without much drama thankfully. The run-in to Bolanzo was a dynamite descent and then a marginal mix-in with rush hour traffic. We caned it anyway, hah-hah!


Done and dusted with cement and water. Nice!

Unfortunately due to the day's unforeseen circs we didn't get our luggage until after 8pm which knocks everything else out of kilter. First World Problem, I know.

It was at that stage that another rider was treated to another visit to hospital for more suspected altitude-related illness: he was discharged thankfully.

We shuffled off pronto to source a local restaurant open late-doors and duly one obliged...cheers!

Shaddap You Face...Tuesday 10th September 2013.

Once a song gets in your head for the day then sometimes it's there all, there's no need to thank me!


Nice gaff...we only ever see a place for a few hours and then sod-off.
Today's forecast was for rainy nonsense: of course you get damp anyway when you climb above the cloud-line. So much for the stunning views!

Here we go again!

Always a dodgy tunnel to negotiate. Don't hang around.

Another day, another country. Same chocolates are still pricey though...

This was another hard, hard day- there's a pattern forming here, isn't there? At least I didn't make the same mistake as yesterday by not eating enough and felt so much more able as a result. Almost enjoyable at times!

Descent started off dry...

...but not for long. Careful...brakes turning to mush!

The Zoncolan had a real kick-up for it's last two miles with gradients in excess of 20%...weaving all round but we did it. Felt good about that...handshakes all round at the top!

A-top of The Zoncolan with Peter, Nick and Il Tractore. We earned that posing.

I let Nick and Andy go ahead and they overshot the first corner. I'm still laughing!

However I did have a lucky escape of sorts: I was just exiting a corner when Nick shouted to me that I had a flat rear tyre...caused by the heat build-up from friction on the wheel rims, believe-it-or-not. All new to me, and from then on we stop at regular intervals to check the wheel rim temperatures. F1? Do one. Sorry Dean, hah-hah!

Il Tractore offers management guidance. First replacement tube was faulty, which was nice.

A joy to descend...eats brake blocks and tyre tubes, mind!

The Cannibal!

Yeah, it's all to do with The Giro d'Italia.
It was a real long, cold drag until the descent into Auronzo and our basic hotel...a long and tough day hence no blog. The rule of thumb as to just how bad a day is if you really aren't arsed if you have a beer or not: tonight was a dry night. Yeah, it can occasionally happen, hah-hah!

Auronzo at last...end of a big day...

Il Tractore and myself were rooming with Dean that night: the bloke is built like an outhouse but was struggling a bit. That night he was wheezing and making it sound like each laboured breath was going to be his last.
As collective patience wore a little thin, I reckon we almost wished that it was, hah-hah! Top bloke.

The world's most ridiculous wi-fi password. It didn't bloody work either hence another late blog, hah-hah!