Big day! As you can see from the headline I was pumped, adrenaline charged….I wrote that headline just after uploading my photographs last night, still riding a surge of strong feelings at having achieved something big for me…it is now the next morning and I have slept, but have decided to keep the over the top title as it represents how I felt at that particular point.
First things first….
Dinner last night…I was charmed by this gorgeous young lad, the son of our former pro rider ( Vuelta stage winner) Daniele, with a visit to his his papa for the evening.
In the morning we left Lake Iseo (I will be back there’s too) and headed to Milan to watch the race start, surrounded by the team buses ( riders inside) heading up the highway and into the streets of Milan.
It was a very warming morning for a change, warm enough for a sleeveless dress! Rain was forecast for later in the day though.
It was pure chaos around the race start with so many spectators lining the area from the team buses to the stage where the riders present themselves to sign their names on the board.
Se tried to watch the riders head up to the stage along the road…
That was not easy either, as you can see.
However I got a much better vantage viewing spot for the race start. Here they are still under a controlled start, following the Race Directors car out of Milan, allowing chit chat between riders.
In the picture below we have the Maglia Rosa, Simon Yates…and a yet to be identified rider seemingly smiling at my camera?
We then hot footed it over to where the Giro competes the following day, with incredible mountains around us. The nerves start to tingle, as I was very nervous and uptight.
Todays challenge was to climb Colle Delle Finestre, a mountain regarded by many pro riders as the third hardest Giro climb in Italy. It is located in the Piedmont region of Italy, close to the French border.
The climb starts at around 500 metres above sea level, and finishes over 2100 metres, so potentially my largest single ascent in one climb. My record was 1550 metres or so, in a single climb ( versus total climbing for a ride which includes all the ups).
The climb is about 17 km long and averages 10 percent. We were told that there are no flattish areas to recover, and that the last 7 plus km is ‘gravel’). Oh it just keeps getting better! Groan…… However, there is an upside in that the road has been closed already for the Giro ( due to the ‘gravel’ section, as apparently the local council have been working on the road). Sounds promising?
We started off with a warm up ride over reasonably flatish roads, a great idea so our legs and nubs are warmed up. I leave my warmer gear ( for the descent) in the van.
We converge at the bottom of the climb, but the van has not arrived with my backpack. This rattles me, as the descent will be cold. Daniele waits for the van promising to bring my riding backpack up on HIS back. Ok, nicely played Sharron 😊💪🚴
I sit with Roberto and we chit chat our way through 32 hairpins in the early sections….
We chat about life in general. I have a power meter on this bike and in the first 4 or so km I was riding above my FTP ( functional threshold power), pushing 210-220 Watts. Roberto suggests I drop it back to 165-185 watts, as it is a tough unforgiving climb. I follow his suggestion and go down one gear and spin more.
With 7 km to go we are at the ‘gravel’ section. I think that word is lost in translation. There is no gravel in sight, but slushy mud and patches of compacted mud is in plentiful supply….and I have to ride in this crap at 10 percent?
It is enough of a challenge on bitumen to climb km after km at that grade let alone unsealed.
It is soft and slippery, and I try to identify drier sections. Thankfully not many riders are descending and there are no cars.
There are sections of compacted gravel, at last!
I take no photos climbing but the wow factor view wise is huge. I did not want to stop for two reasons. Firstly, cooling down and more importantly recleating.
My ears keep blocking and I keep trying to yawn and clear them.
Roberto had a puncture 30m ahead of me…he told me not to stop, but I did for seconds just to see if he needed my help with his tyre …as if! 😂😂 He gives me a push and off I go.
Just over two km to go and a few hundred metres of climbing left and I know that I will do this.
Am I hurting? Oh yeah! My back is badly cramping and my legs are hurting, but I push on trying to follow Roberto’s instructions of not thinking about my back and concentrating on my legs.
I am pumped! I know that I have achieved something that many others can’t and I feel a lot of gratitude and a little emotion!
Daniele arrived before me ( surprise, surprise) and I throw on all my warm gear ( long leggings, arm warmers, jacket, snood, long fingered gloves).
It is really fresh at the top, but I grab a few photos. There is bitumen on the other side, but whilst it was planned for us to descend that way, we can’t due to a landslide further on preventing us turning towards our accomodation. So we need to descend down the unsealed road.
The mud, and looking down part of the climb. The snow is banked up over 2 metres on the side for a number of km.
The descent is slow, riding the brakes…don’t want to spin out and over the edge!
I take the opportunity to stop a few times on the descent and take photos.
Finally I hit the bitumen and speed up and really enjoy myself!
Here is my climbing graph…nasty! 1676 m of my days total of 1749 m is one climb only. This is not something you can do in Tasmania, there are no climbs possible that provide the same ascent. One of the great ‘benefits’ Europe provides cyclists.
We arrive at our accomodation in Jafferau late… nearly 9 pm, so it’s going to be a very late night once we shower and eat.
I don’t get to bed until just before midnight…a four course meal was served!
So I achieved something today I did not think I could! Awesome!