My friend Peter, aka "Pietro", filed this report from Verona where he's riding before hooking up with an Andy Hampsten tour.
"Eros (Poli) picked me up at 8:30 AM. He wants to try the Monte Baldo climb from the Adige River Valley. It was a little bit of a drive.
He found a parking spot and we biked along the valley for quite a while. As you can see, Eros is old school, no helmet. Finally, he said the climb would start. It was supposedly 16 km to San Valentino. Lucky for me, I thought this was the top (Ha! Ha! Ha!). If I had known that the penultimate highest point was at the 32-34 km mark, I would have had him shoot me and dump me into the gutter. According to Eros, Stelvio climb is 27 km, last 7 km much steeper than first 20. We will see.
We started out OK but my legs were heavy and I had to stop about 4 km into the climb to have a Maxim GU and recover. I actually started to feel better and got into the rhythm. A little coaching from Eros and a couple of times a hand on the back to push me along. Eros is strong. Of course, having ridden seven TdF, four Giro’s and two Vuelta’s (along with Paris-Roubaix, etc), what else would you expect.
Actually, the grades were pretty gradual, probably 6-7%. We did hit some sections with more of a grade but for the most part it was pretty constant.
We reach the “first” rest stop (other than Pietro putting feet to the ground; the Gruppo 1 cycling club always says if you stop you didn't do the climb....cruel) in 1 hr 40 min, probably average 9 Km/hr. I needed two cokes.
Of course, this older Italian man passed us on the climb. He must have been at least 65. Italians know how to ride.
So we proceeded again, some flat, some climbing until we reached the Cheese House. Now this was a stop!!!! We had a plate of cheese and meat with fresh bread. I again stayed with coke. Espresso afterwards. Eros had a beer and then finished the espresso off with a grappa. Now where do you find a place like this in the States? The Italians know how to do it right.
Of course, some more climbing. Finally, some downhill but a short stop at a bar along the road overlooking Lake Garda. Wow!!!!! What a sight, although we only saw a little piece of the Lake. Blue water. Cliffs along the coast. Wonderful sight!!!
I followed Eros down the road. We passed the slow cars. Maximum speed was 92 Km/hr (maybe 56 mph). Some ups and downs. The final descent at the bottom was really fast with sweeping curves. Feather the brakes a little, pressure on the outside pedal and lean into the curve. Many Kilometers of descent.
I tell you, the scenery was spectacular. You see the winding road, then houses or buildings. These are all older stone and masonry buildings. Beautiful. All this is out in the middle of no where. These pics only give you a small sense of the beauty. You have to ride this road to really appreciate how great it is.
On the way back to the hotel, another stop. Coke for me. Beer for Eros.
Re-packing for Andy’s tour tonight. I brought too much crap. I have got to figure out what to leave behind. Thursday is rest day and bring bike box to the other hotel by the airport. Maybe meet Andy Hampsten.
Tour starts Friday, we climb Stelvio."
Photos: Eros, Eros and Peter, Peter
Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail