Iseo

Last minute look at Lake Garda just before departing….

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FD818A3E-84ED-43B3-B631-BDD979081A66I love Lake Garda. I’ll be back!

We headed to a vineyard as each of the Giro celebrates Franciacorte as each year the Giro travels through a different wine area.  We learned about their winemaking, with most partaking in samples…not me, as given my rib, no way was I riding with alcohol in my blood stream.

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Photographing our photographer Stephano

We then departed on our bikes heading to the race finish at Lake Iseo. Nice ride. When we arrived we decided to do extra and do a previous Giro climb of about 8 km.

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Great views on the way up but I was not stopping…I just kept plugging away…turning at the top and then descending I stopped where a number of riders were taking photographs overlooking Lake Iseo.

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Warm 26 degrees for the climb, but nice descent.

Back at our base camp we ate again….I really was not hungry…despite the course only being metres away, a group of us walked down to the finish line to check town out.

Found this beautiful old motor bike…

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Another house well decked out….

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Some guys I recognised…

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Roberto and Clive, part of our crew lurking in town.

Found the shores of Lake Iseo…

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Found gelato…this is Erin. I am adopting her! She and Hannah would get on great!

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I liked this warning sign…

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Loved this ladies shoes, ideal for riding a scooter…?

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The winners champagne is all ready on the podium…

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Then the rain came down ….after such beautiful weather all day…

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Rain bucketed down…I got soaked…given the weather I just watched the metres out from the finish…,.woosh……

Our leader Daniele would be happy, his good friend and former teammate Viviani won.  I think it is about the fourth stage win at the Giro for him.

Tomorrow our plans are in disarray due to the earthquake and road landslip…so,the Giro is to be rerouted…us too….final details being nutted out as we speak.

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Aussies rule!

Poor wifi again, and so far I have been unable to transfer my ride photos from my phone to iPad. Never mind..here goes….

Yesterday at the Giro was time trial day in the streets of Rovereto, some 17 km or so from Torbole, Lake Garda.

Many of us selected to go on a morning leg loosener down a valley, on a cycle path, behind Torbole  which was pleasant.

Upon returning we joined the rest of the riders to head to,the time trial. turn left out of the garage was a nasty 10 percent climb for over one km. I was so glad my legs and lungs were warmed up.

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I did this same climb 2 years ago with cold legs..not nice.

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Beautiful views from the top of the short climb. My photo for this is still stuck on my phone, but two years ago I took this one part way up ( as I stopped). Yesterday I did the 1km, 10 percent without stopping.

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In Rovereto we were in a structure outside a local pub adjacent to the course, where we sat and ate and had a few drinks.

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Wandering up to the finish line and back.  This is the view looking up towards the finishing line.

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This building was adjacent to our viewing room.

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Trying to get photos of fast moving cyclists is hard with my camera, but patiently I tried.  I got a few others from my vantage position.

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Wine point had me wondering….

These two guys peeked my curiosity…

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Then there was the race…

This guy I gave a good cheer to initially thinking it was Kiwi George Bennett, but got my Bennett’s all muddled up…this is Sam Bennet…the Irishman ( I think…..)

 

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This guy got my loudest voice though….Aussie, Aussie, Aussie….Rohan Dennis who was the ultimate winner, resplendent in his very tight BMC skin suit. I could hear some of my fellow riders singing Waltzing Matilda a little further on.

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Down to the top two riders on General Classification…

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The chaser, Tom Domoulin.

Big cheers in the crowd for this guy…the maglia rosa’s arrival certainly stirred emotion in the crowds….Simon Yates powered past, very pained face, giving it all.

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Simon Yates, current wearer of the maglia rosa

Today we head to Lake Iseo…hopefully better wifi at that hotel!!

😊💪🚴

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Rest day ride Lake Garda

Easy day as we transferred nearly 300 km from Sappada to Torbole, Lake Garda.  a beautiful drive with views of the Dolomites. I admit, I would much rather be riding than sitting in a car. I do find that frustrating.

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The first half was through areas ridden last week including Muhlbach, stopping at San Lorenzo for coffee.  San Lorenzo was the town where last Sunday we witnessed the Oompa Loompahs outside the church ( per video in the blog). Today, the Piazza was very quiet, although mid morning, there were a few blokes sitting around drinking wine.

With the lack of people around, I found something I had not noted last week.  A small obelisk with an interesting history.

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Arriving into Torbole was nice.  Tony and I were here less than 2 years ago, en route via bikes from London to Venice.  Two years ago the sun shined.

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Today it was overcast, light drizzle.

As we have some tough climbing days later this week today’s ride was just rolling the legs over as we rode around one side of the lake.  Easy as, riding some 20 km along a busy road, many cyclists in the area for tomorrow’s Giro time trial.

Returning included a steep but short climb through a village, descending into a tourist mecca along the lake. The total ride was only around 43 km.

Some views from the ride.

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Erin and Chris

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A cycle track is being constructed to circumnavigate Lake Garda.  When completed, it will be 160 km in length. That is now on my bucket list as a nice day from Torbole, hopefully in a gloriously sunny day!

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Three Giro climb morning

The plan today was to do three of the days Giro climbs, and be back in Sappada to watch the finish live.

It was a cool out of the village with all gear on. At the bottom we stripped off to climb. It was a solid climb too.

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At the top of the Pass, clothes back on. This was to be the order of the day…clothes on, clothes off.  Joe commented that he felt like a stripper!

The views today were magnificent. The weather varied from sunny to drizzly.

The climbs were stiff, varying from 5-7 percent on the last one, to 13-14 percent on the first.

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Riding back into Sappada i was passed by a Velo Tour van…ah ha…more Tasmanians.

Velo Tours is operated by Kim and Kerry Stubbs. I was on the Board of Triathlon Tasmania with Kerry, and both on the organisation group for two Australian All Schools Triathlon Championships held in Devonport.

So I focused on following the van, waving as much as I could and I did manage a quick hi to Kim as she tried to find somewhere to park.

Time to wander around Sappada. People are amazing with the efforts they put into the Giro theme.

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The weather could not make up its mind whether to rain or shine. After wandering around the finishing line area, a number of us watched the race unfold on tv.

It was a funny feeling watching the last 35 or so km as we had ridden the same route only hours earlier….”hey, that is where Luke got his flat tyre…”. They certainly make the hill climbs look far easier than they are for mere mortals.

With 6.2 km to go the feeling from all was that Yates was going to win, but curiosity with both Domoulin and Froome..we all ventured outside (our hotel was directly on the finishing route).

We found our vantage points and waited….

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Peter, Luke and Erin waiting…

Then a very happy Simon Yates, foot down, screamed up to the finishing line for a well deserved win, increasing his hold on the maglia rosa.

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We all cheered on the riders, and then I noticed Kim Stubbs on the other side of the road, complete with a blow up kangaroo. I went with her back to where Kerry was.

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Three Tasmanians now found…will there be more??

A nice dinner at a local restaurant. I sat next to Daniele, who continues to enthral with tales from the pro life. He also has his own clothing label (cycling)…note to self to look up.

The Dolomites looked majestic as we say goodbye to Sappada.

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Zoncolon

One word…ZONCOLON

Yes it is in capitals, yes I am shouting it. What a beast,

To be honest, before booking this trip, I had never heard of it…you hear a lot about classic climbs like Stelvio, Alpe d’huez and so on, but all the riders rate Zoncolon as much harder.

Two times Zoncolon Giro stage winner Gilberto Simoni described it as a ‘slow execution’.

Here is the climbing graph.

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I have done longer climbs, I have climbed to higher altitudes, and I have climbed a greater ascent ( measured from base above sea level to above sea level) but I have never done such a steep, shorter climb….with really really nasty percentages.

I needed to think….I carry knee, back and asthma  issues, but the one that most people currently are unaware of is that the sore rib I have spoken of, is actually a fractured rib. So for over two weeks I have been riding with a fractured rib.

I am on pain medication at night ( as lying in bed hurts most). Coughing, sneezing, bending, twisting all hurt, but greatly improved.

Breathing very deeply hurts…so climbing has been harder for me ( not that I am a great climber anyway), but this is an added impost.

I cannot risk another fall on my rib at the moment.

I analysed the climb data above, km by km. Red is hard! That is over 10 percent and this climb has patches around 22-24 percent.  Throw in thousands of people walking and cycling up to watch, wet roads, tour motor bikes and cars, alcohol (as many walkers are the drinking revellers) a narrow road and you have one almighty task ahead of you.

We were transferred via van to a rising starting poi T some 2 and a half hours away from Asolo. Great views of the Dolomites as we closed in.

We rode 20 km to the start of the mountain climb in Osalo.

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Ready to start the ascent

My decision was to ride to ‘the wall’ and take it from there.  I got past the wall for a bit, it started to pour with rain and the a motor car was up my clacker and impatient.  There was no room for me and the car, so I had to decleat to let  it past, and I could not recleat in what was 18 percent there.

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This guy was busy with his roller on the wall and road

So I walked then…very hard too… joining Chris (a lady rider in our group from the USA). It was great to sit with her and get to know her. She is very inspiring growing up in a variety of USA national parks ( dad was a ranger). She became a teacher, then worked as a park ranger in Yosemite, a lawyer and now a judge. We had a great chat, chilling on the mountain, waiting, waiting , waiting.

Here is Chris chilling…

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Sitting on a hill for so many hours you see lots of people, many walking and pushing their bikes up the mountain for vantage viewing points. At our position there was a man running and giving people a push. He gave a girl a push and she made a noise..I looked across and realised I knew her…Josie Dow, who swam with my children in Tasmania, and now,living in London!

I called out her name, she looked and smiled! It was great to see her after so many years, but how crazy is that? Here I am, in Italy, up a dirty monster of a climb, and I see someone from yesteryear!

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Josie!!

When the weather started to close in more, Chris and I had a chat about the descent. We knew it was going to be horrific with so many thousands of people descending at once..bikes, walking and many alcohol fuelled.

The riders were still at least half an hour away and we decided to descend a few km down..we crawled down to about 4 km point ( meaning 6 km from the top of the mountain)..

We dumped our bikes with a few others and scrambled up a grassy knoll but not before another Chris photo.

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This was our view whilst we waited…

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Waiting…they are getting close

Then the leading riders ride up this beast…

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Chris Froome in second position.

Seconds later, here is Froome, with the maglia Rosa two places behind ( Simon Yates) and Tom Dumoulin a further two back.

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We needed to wait for all the riders to come through before completely descending. The ride down was pretty horrible really. Mass of humanity with walkers just spreading themselves out over the entire road, having to try to identify opportunities to move between the walkers, who all seemed to have opened umbrellas with those pointy bits at cyclists face level.

So history will show that Chris Froome won. For me, great experience and I am glad I stayed upright!

I have heaps more photos but the internet at this hotel is awful. I have spent around 3 hours trying to get this blog done, with consistent drop outs. I’m giving up! I have to get ready for breakfast and the next ride….grrrr

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Asolo and Giro

I awoke to beautiful weather in Asolo. A lovely breakfast, but my idea of a BIG coffee differs somewhat to the lady barista! 😂

Luke, Peter and I were dropped off into the Piazza Maggiore in Asolo to have a wander around. The town has significant Roman heritage.

We decided to walk to Il Rocco….way up high on the hill overlooking Asolo, the Veneto and the Dolomites.

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Once at the top this is the main entrance. Closed for renovations.

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Walking back down there are numerous olive trees on the flats and slopes.

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Back in the Piazza Maggiore looking up the the convent, you can see the old fortification high  above.

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This fountain is a central piece in the Piazza Maggiore with water from an old Roman aqueduct.

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I love quirky gargoyles and building details including the wood panelling under this buildings eaves, and the metal dragon.

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After a quick lunch it was onto the bikes to ride off to Giro.

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The weather was perfect and we followed Daniele as he weaved around various roads and villages.

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Stopping for a quick drink and catchup after the first hill…

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We were able to do the Giro hill climb…only 3 km but packed with cyclists of all shapes, sizes and abilities. It was walking only under the KOM banner as cyclists just seemed to stop on the line, causing a build up behind.

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We then rode another 15 km or so to the finish line where we saw the riders come through the first time…very fast…hence the blur on my photos…

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Leading rider with one loop to,go, including the KOM

We all sat outside a local bar waiting patiently….

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Until the final sprint…we were all hanging our arms and phones over the barriers and did a massive jump back as the riders screamed around on our side of the barricade…

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A nice win for Viviani, good friend of our leader Daniele. I did not get a photo of him…too fast for my trigger happy finger.

The crush after the race was incredible…4 police pushed through so I drafted them ( walking), and stuck with them in the gap they created.

Our team management decided to transfer us back to the hotel by van, as thunderstorms were threatening….,

Tomorrow is the challenge ….Zoncolon…to Zoncolon or not to Zoncolon, that is the question…..🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

I did not get shot!

Disappointingly I have very few photos today, despite taking heaps. My camera memory card seems to have had a myocardial infarction!

It was to be a reasonably long day..about 135 km to get from Cortina, in the Dolomites, to Asolo, in the Veneto.  This was the route followed.

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I was told by Geoff we HAD to be on the road by 8 am. Breakfast, get changed, pack gear, attach to bike and ready! But first I wanted to say farewell to John, the Irishman. I found him in the breakfast room. He told me he set his alarm for 6 am as he wanted to say farewell but then fell asleep. He thought he had missed me to,say goodbye.  Very sweet and witty man, but I have promised to email him upon my return to Australia.

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My jumbo coffee vs the standard cup on the tables. Using the machine there is an espresso plus two cappuccinos in the big cup

It was only 2 degrees and we had a descent to start with so all clothes  were on. We retraced some of the previous day route in reverse. Traffic was not light.

We had coffee at the 45 km mark and then did not stop until 107 km. We rode on a variety of surfaces, roads , unsealed cycle tracks.  The latter included pinches of up to 20 percent and were unrideable, for me anyway.

The two biggest laughs of the day….The first one was at the end of one of those unrideable bike tracks. It was horrid…steep, rocky and I was pushing my bike. It looked like a construction site…at the end there was a sign…in Italian it said that the site was a mine site, and any trespassers would be shot! Next to it was this sign….

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Nice to know they would shoot you with a safe action pistol!

The second funny thing is this picture taken by my riding companion Geoff. I was not that hungry and I was not really enjoying this dish…too many carbs 😂😂😂

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The last few km into Asolo were up a nasty hill of around ten percent. The old town looks really interesting.

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I have now met a couple of our Giro touring team ( Italy Bike Tours) looking after us including Alberto, Daniele and Georgio. Daniele is a former professional rider, having won a stage of the Vuelta. He was also a team mate of my favourite cyclist Peter Sagan for many years. He had many stories to share over dinner.

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Also met two other guys doing the same tour. Luke from London ( expat Aussie) and Peter ( Sydney)

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So tomorrow the plan is to check out Asolo better in the morning. We then ride in the afternoon to watch the Giro stage finish.

Back at our accomodation, here is the scene is the shared bathroom aka laundry….

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Those are NOT my clothes soaking in the bidet! My riding companion is using the bidet to wash his clothes!!! 😩

Until tomorrow, 😊💪🚴

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Passo Tre Croci

The weather looked promising when I walked out onto the  balcony this morning. Yesterday I could not see the base of this mountain.

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Big breakfast with lots of coffee and we were ready to roll. I quite liked this statue as we headed off from Cortina.

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Immediately the road climbed, steeply! This was the view after 200 meters of climbing.

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Then there was this sign……hopefully not!

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When the ride starte today in Cortina we were at 1224m above sea level. We were riding up to Passo Tre Croci at 1809 metres.  On the previous ride to Passo Falzarego (2117m) the snow was at 1800m.  Today the snow started at 1600m. It appeared that there had been significant snow falls yesterday.

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First goal achieved. The Giro d’Italia riders do this same climb on Sunday ( well I think it is Sunday?)…

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Very scenic and a nice climb. 7.95 km from Cortina and 584 metres of climbing in that short distance. The weather was nice for climbing, little traffic.

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Some beautiful views on the descent. You can see the dry river beds caused from avalanches of snow. Many had heavy machinery clearing tonnes of gravel material.

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It was a nice long descent. Many sections were under repair as quite pot holed in places…new bitumen was nice to ride on.

At 864m we arrived in Auronzo di Cadore where we stopped for coffee. An interesting town that boasts ski slopes, old churches and a huge dam.

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Just where the wisp of cloud is you can just see a Refugio perched above the groomed ski fields

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Many towns were gearing up for the Giro with town beautification projects including lots of new plants in garden beds, rose coloured ribbons and flowers being tied to railings and so on, as well as a massive road resealing program.

This caught my eye.

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And then this…

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As you can see above, there is no verge on the road here.  As I recommended riding from taking the photo above, Geoffmshot this photo…nice and close….😩

D88A9253-A921-466D-A156-D31A56CE75D0.jpegThe weather had started to deteriorate somewhat so just after the rain jacket was donned we came across a cafe…time for minestrone soup…and hey presto, the weather had improved.

We followed a bike track for the last 15 km or so. I took this photo of an old train station, as I was putting my wet weather gear back on. I particularly liked the roof line.

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A few km before Cortina I noted the old Olympic ski jump from the 1956 winter games.

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Approaching Cortina this view was really nice.

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A great ride that I could recommend to anyone..only 83 km or so, nice loop.

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In the evening, we shared a meal with a lovely bloke staying at the same hotel, John, from County Clare, Ireland. A retired theoretical physicist, now working as a tour guide in German, French and English. He was a great raconteur with jokes and stories aplenty. He insisted on holding my hand for the photo.

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Tomorrow we leave Cortina and ride to Asolo, about 130 km from here, to join up with a Giro d’Italia tour. Exciting for me, as I will be reunited with warmer clothing, as I have paid 375 euro to have my luggage collected from Bern and transported to Asolo.

Leggings, puffer jacket, Scarpa boots….oh I have missed you!! 😊

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Brrrr….shiver and shake

The idea of being based in the Dolomites for three full days was to do day rides out and back to and from Cortina. Maps were obtained with suggested road routes.

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So the plan was, starting in Cortina (1,224m), climb up to Passo Falzarego (2,117m), Passo Valparola (2,192m), descend to La Villa (1,483m), Corvara (1,568m), up to Passo Campolongo (1,875m), Pieve di Livinallongo (1,475m), possibly Passo Giau (2,236m) or Passo Falzarego (2,127m) and back to Cortina.

A big ask for this chook but one I was willing to do as I knew I would do it, just a matter of pace.

Starting in Cortina it was not too bad. I had my short sleeved merino jersey, long sleeved Assos jacket, and Rapha winter short legged nicks for climbing. I carried my rain jacket, merino arm warmers, winter leggings, long fingered winter gloves in my front panier ( to be used if needed).

Cortina looked pretty ok.

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Climbing started pretty well immediately. The views were great. These photos are after 200 metres climbing, and only a few km riding. (1425m).

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As I approached the lookout area, half a dozen very flash Porsche’s had screamed past having their own little roaring race up the Pass.

Riding on I came across this little church.

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The snow started at 1800 metres.

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Just two km before the top of the climb it started to lightly drizzle. When you are climbing you are generating plenty of body heat so the lower temperatures not so much of an issue. I was hoping the rain would hold off long enough to get to the top as I did not want to stop and cool down.

Photo of my bike at the top and one looking to the right hand side.  To the right of the Passo sign you can see a small church. That is where Geoff was to be found, huddled and cold.

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The rain started to come down heavier, and it suddenly got colder. I put my bike inside the tiny church and you can see the inside temperature on my Garmin….and that is probably 10-15 min after I entered the church.

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There was a bit of a debate..what to do….we both wanted to keep climbing, but knew that we needed to be sensible. The next Pass was only another 85 metres up, but the weather likely to be worse.

The descent to La Villa and Corvara would be cold, and it certainly looked like it was raining down that valley.

With great reluctance we knew we should descend back to Cortina. All clothes were now on.

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I don’t ordinarily mind descents but I prefer dry descents as they are much safer and faster.

This descent was cold and wet. The road was pot holed, in places, to boot. The temperature dropped down to 4.2 on my Garmin.

Normally descending I just control my speed with brakes…pedal when I have to.  today I was riding my brakes and trying to pedal a bit to generate body warmth.

The further I descended, the worst my shivering got to the point that I was not able to keep tight corners.

With 5 km to go I noted a little pub like establishment with a light on. We pulled off the road and knocked. A lady opened the door and ushered us in. I hugged her!

Despite being wet, she insisted we sit on their cushioned bench seats. An incredible hot chocolate was made. It was more like heated chocolate custard, it was so thick, sweet and rich. We followed that up with a coffee.

I could have sat there for ages…we were only 5km out of Cortina. The rain had eased and the temperature was now a balmy 5 degrees!

Here is the reluctant Sharron ready to finish off the descent.

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A perfectly symmetrical graph today! As you can see the climbing of 907 metres done in 16 km. A nice climb I am hoping to do in slightly warmer weather.

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I have expanded the map so you can see where I am in the Veneto area.

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The forecast tomorrow is worse. Maximum of 9 degrees and rain. Wednesday looks a bit better.  Will a ride be done tomorrow? Not sure….will wait and see if the meteorologists are right!

 

 

 

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Oompa loompa

Leaving Muhlbach the weather looked a bit ominous. The forecast was not great. Low cloud on the surrounding hills looked eerie, particularly around this old castle.0E282C58-A24F-40D1-86D5-4B2A08C4EA80

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Today we spent a lot of time on cycle pathways, both sealed and unsealed. We met a guy named Chris from Austria who was heading home on a 185km ride.

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Geoff and Chris

The track took us into what we thought was a quiet and deserted village….until we rode into this square. It was not quite 10am and people were sitting around drinking wine already. Cyclists rode through. It was the hub of all activity.

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There were a number of people wearing the Tyrol costumes looking like Oompa Loompa’s. They must be getting ready for something big if they needed to drink wine so early.

Then they all lined up with their instruments and I waited and waited….ever so patiently….

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I had no idea this photo was being taken….I am getting a tad bored and impatient waiting for the big oompa loompah event…

Then they started to play…stick with the video…the band are riveting and I have an extra who was ever so keen to be in my video…kind of sweet and makes me smile…twice! In fact the highlight of the video, and I mean that in a really nice way..😊

Back onto the cycle path following a river through forests, under motorways.

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It was interesting to note the structure across the river. It appears, from signage, to exist to prevent major debris floating downstream during flooding.

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Pushing on, snow clad mountains returned as we approached the Dolomites.

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Still following rivers…

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With only 28 km to go until Cortina, this was our view. We needed to turn right to head towards that V, part of the mightily impressive Dolomites.

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Before turning right, we peeled left into the village for a bite of lunch. A nice village with beautiful backdrops.

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It also had this station for charging electric cars and bikes.

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We were there for nearly 90 minutes….I think they forgot about our soup….so long that the weather had really deteriorated and we got wet!

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We sheltered under this UNESCO information portal and waited a tad longer as the sun was trying to break through further north.

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The portal also represented the top of the climb, so it was pretty well flat or downhill to Cortina. No photos taken as it was a cold descent around 8 degrees, and whilst I had my rain jacket on, my legs were bare, and I wanted to just keep pedalling. I was cold!

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Cortina is a nice town, very quiet as the ski season has finished. Walking around I was impressed by the surrounding mountains but the last one was my favourite.

The plan is to stay here until moving onto Asolo to hook up with the Giro. I suspect climbing maybe involved in the next few days, if the weather holds. Current forecasts not looking great.

Ooroo, 😊💪🚴

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