Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pietro: Passo Falzarego

Peter, aka "Pietro", files his tenth and last report from the Andy Hampsten tour.

"Friday, September 4, 2009: Day 8 Passo Falzarego; Summit Elevation 2105 meters.

Weather forecast is chance of showers. Andy decides to keep the ride short, 60 km, Passo’s Falzarego and Giau. This sounds good as we get back early and I can email and relax.

Off we go. The climb starts easy, gradual grades. We climb for quite a while. Andy comes by and we chat. He thinks my saddle may be a little low but also says if it works stay with it. We get to the intersection where we turn to the Passo Falzarego. Now the gradients start to increase. I soon pass a sign that says P. Falzarego is 9 km (Ugh). I know I have well over an hour more to go to the summit. On the way up, I pass two people on roller blades (with ski poles) roller blading up to the summit. I wonder how they get return? Turns out that there was a whole group of roller bladders and I passed to two slow women. They have a van at the top to take them down. How disappointing as I wanted to see them roller blade down the mountain with no brakes. Ha, Ha.

And then you start to see the elevation signs like 1600 meters. I know I have to go to something over 2000 meters so there is a lot of climbing to tick off. Slowly, the distance to the summit grows smaller and the elevation gets higher.

I pass a little town off to the left with an abandoned castle. I can look up the mountain and see these houses way up there. Amazing!!!

I finally come around a turn and look up into the distance and see the road leading up to a tunnel. Boy, it’s a long way off but I keep grinding and grinding. It’s nice when things start to get closer. I pass the last little town (OK, only a few houses) and start up the last incline. The tunnels are actually a hairpin turn within the mountain as they didn’t have any other place to make this turn.

I’m within 1 km and I see this road going way up. It’s actually the road to Passo di Valparola at 2477 meters but I’m thinking I have to go up there. It’s getting cold so I stop and put on my rain jacket for warmth. I go a short distance past the last hair pin and I see the other riders and out van. I have reached Passo Falzarego.

Well it’s cold and I have decided that this is an out and back day. I put on my winter vest and jacket, take my big camera and head back down to Alleghe with a few others. Not only is it cold, but the chance of rain is great. I stop a few places on the way down to take pictures. At one point, we are in the sun but feel rain drops.

Well, it was a nice descent. We get back and are dry. I shower and work the computer in the lobby. Gradually, the others that went on to Passo Giau come in. Passo Giau is a steep ascent. They all have gotten caught in the rain and cold. When Bruce Hildenbrand comes in and congratulates me on a fine decision to return after the first pass. Passo Giau was no fun.

We have lunch. Now, I relax, write and email. It’s raining again.

After lunch, we have some beers. There is a car rally going on so we see all these old nifty cars (Farrari’s, Mercedes, Fiats, MG’s, etc and even one big old beautiful Buick) coming into the check point. Some are two seater convertibles and the drivers have helmets and goggles (just like the old fighter pilots). Many interesting old cars probably worth mucho dinero.

Prior to dinner, we have a wine tasting with Andy. He has seven wines that we sample and he tells us some of the intricacies of wine making. When he first lived in Italy, he had grape vines and made wine himself.

Well, it’s been a great vacation. Lot’s of hills, much pain but very enjoyable. Italy is a beautiful country. The Dolomites are inspiring.

Sunday, heading home.

Thanks to Gruppo 1 of Verona, and Eros Poli for the rides before I began the Andy Hamsten tour.

Photos: the road up Falzarego, valley views, Peter, dinner in Verona with Gruppo 1 club officers and Eros Poli & family.

Thank You Peter-Pietro for your fine storytelling! Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail.com

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