Today was always going to be our toughest day on the bike. Little did we know what adventures the day would being when we awoke early, checking outside our window to see what the weather was like at 6.30 am. Was the sky clear? We certainly did not want rain for this tough day.
This is what we saw:
We enjoyed a nice breakfast and geared up to leave by 7.45 am to give ourselves extra time. Steve told us there would be a 7 pm curfew, but we all knew that would not effect us. David was ready to roll at the same time.
We turned left only 100 metres or so from the hotel and it was straight into a 13% climb! At the 1 km point we had already climbed over 100 metres, so an average of 10 percent! Some words were said to express our thoughts about such a “nasty” climb with cold legs!
We quickly gained height and looking back towards Breno this was the view:
We were heading to Passé de Croce Domini at 6217 feet. It is a tough climb over 22 km. There is no flat sections in that 22 km!
I was on my own for the majority of the climb as Tony and David rode together, taking the photographs. I passed an older lady collecting chestnuts, I could hear gun shots regularly, and I enjoyed the vista from greater heights. I could hear cows with their ringing melodic bells and even saw some horses wearing cow bells.
Eventually I was so high that I was surrounded by snow and I was sweating from the efforts of the climb. Steve came last in the van at about the 18 km point and Il papa (Gibbo who was in the van opting not to ride today) later told me that I had such a determined look on my face! Yes, I was very determined that this berg was not going to get the better of me.
I finally reached the top of Croce Domini totally delighted! After the ubiquitous photo at the sign, it was inside for a nice warm cappuccino courtesy of David ( as the van had headed back down the mountain and we had no money with us.
Time to put extra clothes on for the descent and head off. It quickly became apparent that this descent was fraught with danger. The other side of the mountain road was covered in a mix of slushy melting snow, thicker snow in parts, and ice. We stopped to have a better look as really it was not rideable with a road bike!
We looked up the hill to see Steve walking down. That was odd and knew there was an issue. Walking back to him he said that he had a report from Tony D ( who had been dropped off at the top of Croce Domini) that the road would not be suitable for either of the vans. He was unsure what this would mean logistically with the other riders who were still making their way up the big hill.
We decided to proceed but at this point could only walk our bikes. What an adventure we had though in the next few km that just made this day the most brilliant “ride”.
We came across truck trying to bring cows up the hill:
Just as we walked down from this truck I could hear cow bells and could see three shepherds herding a group of cows up the road towards us. Meet my new friends:
This is the road we were meant to be riding down:
I never thought I would have my photo taken with my bike like this:
So a little further down we made new acquaintances of the human variety. These guys were having troubles with their motor bikes in the snow. They are from Switzerland, living at Lake Constance where we had been a few days before.
These are a few pictures of the scenery as we kept descending.
Eventually we were able to ride our bike but it was slow and careful as the road was wet. The bends were often in the shade and quite a few degrees cooler so possibly slippery.
We rode through Bagolino at 42.5 km and Cerreti ( 44.4 km) but pushed on to Storo. We needed to stop as we had no drink left. The water at the cafe at Croce Domini was not potable. We stopped at various shops on the way but they were closed for the long lunch break. We found a pizzeria and I topped up our water bottles and asked for the biggest cappuccinos she could make. They came out in milkshake glasses. Awesome!
We we had another climb to attend to and it was pretty cold. We were surrounded by mountains/cliffs and could not see how we would get through, but bit by bit we climbed up and around the gorge and made our way through to the other side.
Some different views.
Now it is time for some sleep. A big day and another tomorrow with around 1700 m climbing. In two days we will be in Venice. What a journey and adventure.