Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pietro: Loving the Pain

Peter, aka "Pietro", files his sixth report, now riding with the Andy Hampsten tour.

"Monday, August 31, 2009: Day 4 Bus from Bormio, over Stelvio, to Bolzano. Ride from Bolzano to Alleghe over Passo di Costalunga and Passo Pordoi (2239 m, Coppi Memorial) 85 km.

Bolzano is our start point for riding to Alleghe, roughly 85 km with two mountain passes.

Wake up at 7 AM. Breakfast is @ 7:30 AM. Need to be on bus for ride over the Stelvio to Bolzano (3+ hour bus ride, the only way out of Bormio). What a pain packing. Too much crap. I did have a coke in the frig for the ride. I made a couple of sandwiches for the trip (not much to choose from, only ham and cheese). At least I had baggies which I had brought with me.

I took lots of pics on the way over. The bus ride over the Stelvio was great as it gave me a chance to see the views and snap the pics. We stopped at the top. Then on the way down, I tried to get some pics of the classic Stelvio hairpin turns (hairpins Bormio to summit, 48 hairpins summit down to Prato).

On the way down to Prato, we pass a Uni-cyclist going up (that’s 27 km all up hill with 48 hair pins). Talk about crazy? Actually, there are three crazy guys from California here to do Stelvio, Gavia, etc and then go to France to do those classic climbs. Actually, after the Gavia climb, they attempted the Mortirolo (1300 m, avg 10.5%, max 20%) climb but ran out of time.

What’s amazing in Italy is as you look up the mountains you see all these houses and towns way up. How do they get there?

As we approach Bolzano, we start to see the Dolimites. Wow, to see the craggy rocks jutting up to the sky are fascinating. We are being bussed through the tunnels to avoid having to ride in the dark (yes, tunnels are not lighted and they get very dark and they can be long). Part way through one the bus pulls over. He’s over-heating. The Italian mechanics pull out bottles of water to fill the radiator. After a while, we proceed for a few Km more, pull over, unload bikes, change clothes and we are off.

And what can I say about two major climbs. The climbs are tough but the G-Man (me) loves the pain. The descents are long and beautiful but the hands get tired from braking.

On top of Pordoi, I get my picture taken with Coppi. Wonderful downhill and we reach Caprile. From there it is 3-4 km along the river, all gradual downhill. The hotel is right on the lake. What a location. I’m on the top floor, with a balcony over looking the lake.


Photos:Looking back towards Bormio (two photos), the last 10 or so switchbacks of the Stelvio from the Prato side, mountain church, Pietro at the Coppi memorial at the Pordoi pass

Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail

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