Free Bird

We got away earlier today and headed straight to the beach to see what we thought of New Zealand’s number 1 beach.

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Yes, it’s pretty nice, in particular the vista over the rocky outcrop isles.

Onwards and upwards..there were a few climbs to knock off in the first 23 km. The second climb was the longest and fortunately the temperature was a much more pleasant 19 degrees.

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Just cresting the top of climb

Free Bird was a great song written and recorded by Lynyrd Skynyard….a long song that is regarded as one of their ‘anthems’.  Often when I ride a song will play over and over in my head, and today I realised that had not happened riding the first three days. Maybe the heat dried my mind.   I realised this as Free Bird played over and over today as I climbed.

I thought about the song as I climbed today. For Lynyard Skynard it did not end well with three of their band members being killed in a catastrophic plane crash a few years later…but maybe they are Freebirds now?

Cycle touring is like a free bird. You can go where you want, in whatever time frames you choose. You choose your own pace which when touring is far more relaxed as you need to back up day after day.  You can stop whenever you like without feeling guilty – whether that be to enjoy the view, take some photos, eat, drink, caffeinated, pee, chat….whatever really!

It really appeals to me as I relax so much more as I feel no real pressure so therefore can totally chillax.

As can be seen below, the majority of the climbing was over and done with early, and my back behaved heaps better today thankfully. Today’s total ride length was 112 km.

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Today we rode on rail trail, more specifically the Hauraki Rail Trail. It started off quite crappy, with lots of drifts of very loose gravel, but after a period settled into a mixture of reasonably compressed clay and gravel to chunky gravel.

It was really very pleasant. Slow, as hard to do much above 16-17 kmh on the gravel, with bends, turns etc. We ended up doing 19 km on the trail. At one point our gps was taking back onto SH2, but a quick look and we shook our heads. The traffic was heavy with little to no verge.

We are so glad we did as the trail vista was great. This was the first bridge we crossed.

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I liked this sign advising to leave Rover at home. I love my dogs, but per the sign, they do not mix with wildlife or cyclists.  A guy at my workplace broke his pelvis last year after a dog ran under his wheel.

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At Waikino there is the old railway station with a great cafe inside.

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Inside the cafe I liked the warning sign.

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A section of the Karangahake Gorge.

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This tunnel was a kilometre long. We rode through. Very cool

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This section was fascinating. This is the ruins of an old battery station. On top of this cement there used to be huge containers containing potassium cyanide and crushed ore.  See sign below.

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Oh dear…guess what happened. Yes another puncture. Fortunately the team mechanic was available to assist. Thankyou Tony. The culprit was a pinched tube with two tell tale holes. The section of trail just before this had been pretty bumpy with larger rocks.

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Now this is more like it….but it did not last long.

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This was another great section, but less than 100 m in length.

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Lunchtime was at Te Aroha. My second trip to this funky town as I wanted Tony to see this unique water fountain.

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And this!

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But not this! Yes, she is wearing gumboots! What can I say?

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We were downing our ubiquitous ice coffees at the great cafe Ironique. The greatest loos too. I love this shovel themed sink.  Note the old bike tube in the bin! I do not leave mine just anywhere.

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I really like the door too!

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The rest of the ride was a bit of a slog, with a very slight gradual incline into a strong headwind.  The temperature was around 30 degrees but it did not feel anything like that due to the wind.

Now we are in Matamata, or Hobbiton as it is otherwise known as. This is the cute Information Centre.

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The weather forecast for tomorrow currently looks shite! Thunderstorms and rain! This certainly brings back memories. When Sue and I were doing our Auckland to Wellington ride earlier this year, the weather turned to crap here as well, and signalled the 1 in 100 year storm event. We bailed some 40 km into our ride, requisitioning a shuttle bus van  noted at the cafe we were holed up in.

The forecast for tomorrow is thunderstorms and rain! Oh great, and we are riding one of our harder climbs to Tauranga and the  back to Rotorua. Over 140 km tomorrow!

Fingers crossed that the weather is not quite as bad as forecast, and that the meteorologists are overstating and then under deliver!  Bad weather chick magnestism!!

Today’s route.

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I have just finished eating some crayfish, courtesy of our Air BNB hosts. Bit lucky so I’m hoping my luck holds out.

Ooroo – time for some stretching!

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Hotter than hell…but in paradise…

We had a great night sleep in the Pumpkin Cabin and we were greeted with a very healthy green, fruity drink to start our day. Guy provided us with a very nutritious breakfast to set us in good stead for the day ahead.

It was nice to cruise down the 20 percent slope into Coromandel as we knew we would be climbing within a few km.  Here is today’s climbing chart.

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All the longer climbs had 15 percent pinches, but the third climb was all 15%…carrying our gear certainly not easy going.

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One the first climb ( the biggest for the day), we rode past a very heavily laden cyclist, baring twin flags ( New Zealand and Taiwan), radio blaring. Tony went by first and said ‘hi’ and the poor cyclist must have been startled and ended up in the middle of the road, swerving and zig zagging…..he was hard to pass.

Once again, we we’re blessed with brilliant views on the ride today. The Coromandel region certainly is very beautiful.

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Back at sea level, the beaches were improving.

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We even caught a ferry today…chance for a breather. It cost $17 for this very short trip ( $7 per adult, $1.50 per bike). The water looked incredibly inviting.

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We detoured off the main road to visit Haihai Beach. A very nice spot and maybe on another trip this could be an overnight spot, as a few km along the coast is Cathedral Rock, which looks pretty impressive…from the photos on billboards.

Tourists galore hang out here…there is a massive car park as you enter town to park your vehicle. Shuttle buses then run to the feature spots.

We did refuel with smoothies, icy poles, water and Whitaker’s Chocolate here as we could not find a shop,with anything more substantial not filled with the hordes. I still find Whitaker’s hard to open….must be a sublime message there 🤐

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We were pretty keen not to stay too long in the village as we were melting…and had been all day. We were both sweating copiously. Tony told me I was ‘nearly as bad a Prickles!’ Prickles is a good friend and keen cyclist who has done plenty of cycle touring…and sweats a little!

We soldiered on stopping for more ‘made with real fruit’ icecream and some coconut water. I needed to stop a few times to stretch my back…giving me curry at the moment.

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All in all the car drivers have not been too bad…until today. We had one lady unable to keep to her half when we were descending ( she was driving up). That certainly stirred up the adrenalin.

On a other climb there was a convoy of about 5 vehicles, seemingly racing. I do not think they like cyclists given their finger salutes! 😩🤷‍♀️

Here is today’s route…all over the place! There was wind…but never whilst climbing did we get a nice head wind breeze….all the climbs were fairly protected. It was stinking hot again. Many people say to me ‘ you are Australian, you should be used to it’. However I live in Tasmania, the coolest state in more ways than just temperature.

A hot day on the north west coast is 23-25 degrees. Today, with the exception of the first climb, the gauge showed mid to high 30’s. The bitumen was melting and created a sticky sound on the tyres. It is debilitating when not acclimatised, so we are hoping for some cooler weather ( but not rain….).

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We are staying in nice accomodation in Whangamata ( pronounced Fonga Me Tah)…very hard to get a grip on the Maori language. Tomorrow we are heading to Matamata…( pronounced Matter matter) so why is Matamata not Me Tah Me Tah?

We had tea at the local RSL club. I got talking to the President, who had served for 20 years. He proudly showed me the last Anzac Day service picture, where the flags are brought ashore by surfers, and the horses then lead the march up. Pretty cool.

Apparently Whangamata has the best beach in New Zealand so we might check that out in the morning before another longer journey to Matamata…land of the hobbits.

So it’s Ooroo from me….I need to do some stretches on my back and then get some shut eye!

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Melting

Today started with a crash….ah but not on the bike. Trying to be a fastidiously tidy Air BNB guest, I was wiping the flower pollen from the glass table with a cloth and accidentally knocked the little green leaf dish….that cost me $20…and worst, we were down to $6 cash. Bugger!

Today for the most was cruisy. We just plodded along as the first 80 km pretty flat as we wound our way around the bay.

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There was a nice breeze at various points, and we just sat on 23-24 kmh. We had heaps of time, no pressure. Came across this cafe! Bugger!

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Do not think you would get away with this in Tassie….too much political correctness these days.

Stopping in Thames we located the bike store ( thanks Gervase) grabbing an extra tube to replace the one used in my rear puncture, a bank ( now we can buy stuff) and then a nice cafe to drink an iced coffee.

6B95B23A-83BC-4A75-A422-DDFE6FFB4B9BCafe chair game manouveres like I have never witnessed in Thames.  I finished before Tony so leaving all my gear on my side of the table, I window shopped next door.

Returning my chair was gone…what? I asked Tony and he did not notice it’s removal by stealth. 😂😂  Lo and behold, a lady moved it outside another shop, sitting behind a sign, and sat…all alone…no table..nothing. Strange!

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So I sat on the ground….😂😂😂

Cruisy ride then to the 80 km point with nice vistas.

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Then the climbs started. Oh my gosh it was ever so hot. It got up to 37 degrees on my Garmin. I was melting in the hot and humid conditions, nothing like Tasmania. The sweat was trickling down my face stinging my eyes. But great views.

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I was very pleased to reach the top. Crowded with tourists as there were great views. There we met Brian, who was up for a chat, asking about our plans.

Brian has an orchard out the back of Thames and grows citrus fruit including ‘ugly fruit’. I had never heard of ‘ugly fruit’.

Brian is a generous and kind guy and gave us an orange and ugly fruit each.  We demolished the orange ( juiciest and tastiest orange I have ever had).

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I grabbed Brian’s contact details as he is coming to Launceston in 2 years for the Transplant Games where he will compete in athletics, cycling, tennis…I think there was more!

One more climb…

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Then a few km of flat and whoot woo, we were in Coromandel, ahead of check in time. We found a nice shady tree to sit under and devoured fluids and an icecream.

Then came the toughest part of the day….getting to our accomodation! I knew it was up a hill  but not a 20% climb with cold legs. I bailed part way up as I was fearful of falling as my speed went down, down, down, but Tony  did it, with all the extra gear! Solid effort!!

The accomodation here is really unique. We are on a property that has about 7 acres of rainforest and woodland. The loo has the most amazing outlook.

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This is the outside loo followed by our cabin.

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For dinner, we walked down into town…that was hard work too. A few photos of the town. Plenty of murals, reminding me of Sheffield.

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Tomorrow is a tough day. Lots of climbing and 130 km. Plenty of things to see, a ferry crossing.

Brian looked at our plans and said “you won’t make that”! I said, “I will! I have to!”

So that’s it for today…a brilliant day in glorious ( albeit too hot) weather, where again I have appreciated ( vs cussed) a nice headwind. The views have been great and all in all, a pleasant and satisfying day.

Thanks for reading the blog! 😊💪🚴

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Cluedo

Saturday dragged slowly….I got up at my normal 5.30am and did a few hours training, packed my bags, did loads of washing, house cleaned, emptied the fridge, and still had spare time!  I sat around twiddling my thumbs thinking about the extra km I could have done that morning training.

This is my bike bag packed…

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It is summer in Australia, not that you would know that as we walked onto the plane. You can see the bikes at the back of the luggage. It was cold and wet….

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Hoping for better summer weather!

The plane was delayed out of Melbourne. By the time we arrived in Auckland, collected our gear, transferred by taxi to our accomodation it 2.38 am when we got to bed.

I guess we got 3 hours reasonable sleep, then 1 hour drowsy style thanks to the most raucous sounding cat I have ever heard. It sounded like a sulphur crested cockatoo. Eventually, the noise made its way into our bedroom. This is what stood on my chest, dribbling saliva, loudly demanding my attention.

I was soo tired…

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The cat is named Cluedo

Cluedo has a counterpart…the much quieter Yahtzi. Glad they did not have one named Jumanji! That could be really scary!

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Welcome to New Zealand, feline style.

So 4 hours sleep was all we were going to get. Coffee, coffee, coffee…wherefore art thou coffee!! Right, I’m off to search for it, and if Cluedo gets lucky, I might find him some food to shut him up!!

My resident bike mechanic kindly put my bike together and sorted out a derailleur issue.  We posed for an obligatory selfie before heading off.

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Plenty of stopping and starting getting out of Auckland with traffic lights galore.  Our first stop was Cleveland. Looking for a bank….no go, but did find a cafe with a few cyclists, so ordered an iced coffee.  It went down a treat and we also got to chat with local cyclists…who thought we were mad too.

We had some nice little climbs, nice views. It was really warm too, hitting nearly 28 degrees.  For the first time I appreciated the headwind breeze in the morning.

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The last chunk of the ride was relatively flat following the shoreline.  I was amazed by the tremendous road damage from the one in a hundred year storm in early January that Sue and I got caught up in. Landslides, road washed away…partial rocky and gravel roads…and then BANG…first puncture.

So nice having a resident bike mechanic….Thankyou Tony 😊

The shoreline ranges from shelly to rocky, with cockles being collected in the area. The daily limit is 50 cockles per person, per day.

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We are staying in a great Air BnB right on the water front. During the storm in January, the high tide came to the top of the second step.

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Directly behind our unit is a Maori burial ground with some impressive memorials. Out of respect I took no photos.

Our data from today…

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The highlight today was meeting Jane and Adrian, friends we have both shared through  Zwift.  Recently they relocated from Gore ( South Island) to Thames ( North Island). We are most appreciative that they made themselves available to meet and chat.  We enjoyed a great meal together at the pub ‘down the road’.

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So first day done…well it was really a half day ride providing us the opportunity to get used to the touring bike with gear on it.

Tomorrow is a bit longer, just over 100 km with a bit of climbing, warming us up for day 3.

Guaranteed that tonight we will hit the sack early.  This is the view from our deck as I get ready to post this blog.  It is also where we are heading tomorrow.

Ooroo, sweet dreams 😊💪🚴

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Time to pack my bags

I am somewhat behind in my blogs from Europe….Rome, Tuscany….I had issues with my camera ( it died) and wifi in Tuscany. So I will move on and do a photo blog in the future…as right here, right now I need to pack my bags.

Yes, I’m hitting the road again….seriously hoping not literally this time after Europe where I broke ribs and teeth!!

Tomorrow New Zealand looms. Again you say? Yes, this will be my 4th trip to NZ for 2018. I love the place, it is nice and close travel wise, spectacular scenery, friendly people, crap car drivers.

When I tell non cycle people I train for cycle touring, they give me a funny look…they do not get it. Why  don’t you do a boat cruise? Say what?? That would end in tears….one day, when I cannot do the cycle distances, maybe….possibly…but not until I’m old…well older!! 

Why cycle touring? The memories, the places and the people. The effort required to chug up that hill, carrying your gear is satisfying (after the fact). The feeling you have at the end of the day, week or tour knowing what you have achieved under your own steam. 

More recent memories…

This old bloke owned a restaurant in Buonconvento, province of Siena, Tuscany. He spoke no English but we shared a love of all things bicycle. He insisted on showing us his old race bike. 
Roberto, the man who lived with wolves to find his voice
The eclectic Italy Bike Tours mob
Pondering 

The sights…


Monte Jafferau, Bardonecchia
Me on the road in Tuscany 

Pienza, Tuscany enjoying an aperol spritz, 

I love reliving the memories. I am a sentimental person and love the stories.  I have been fortunate to meet so many interesting people….Roberto who lived in the Siberian Mountains with wolves whilst finding his voice, Marco who just abrogated life responsibilities to ‘just ride’, Jane who played in a recorder orchestra, Peter who at 80 rode LeJog and the list goes on. People have fascinating stories to tell…if you listen.

So back to this trip..the plan is a 1550 km ride starting and ending in Auckland. It will be hilly, there will be gravel. We have all day though to create new memories. 

The route although slightly altered as now travelling to Tauranga to catch up with some cycling friends and onto Rotorua via the lake.

Some of the route is familiar territory.  Sue and I did the section from Rotorua to Taupo to Tongariro en route Auckland to Wellington.

I have also done some riding around New Plymouth when I did the Taranaki ride with friends, camping in the area.  Looking forward to seeing this years Festival of Lights on Christmas Eve there. 

Also revisiting Whangamomona, a small town on the Forgotten Highway. It is in the middle of nowhere, lots of dirt roads, and stinking hot last time I visited. 

 So I hope the trip is safe, no falls, no broken teeth or bones, nothing stolen and I discontinue my bad weather chick magnetism!! 

Matterhorn

Early morning start to head off to Aosta for our final Giro ride…a shorter ride that was to include a long climb of around 28 km to arrive in Cervinia, very close to the Swiss border, and not that far from the French border either. 6C3B6993-0DB3-43B8-8588-49A5D5784CA3

Two of Italy Bike Tours great team getting ready…Stephano and Roberto.

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Riders getting ready….

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I can’t forget Marco, another Team Italy Bike Tour member. He does not ride, but organises!

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After a 10 km warm up we peel off to climb up Cervinia. Not as steep as Finestre (thank goodness) but a lot longer. 28 km of climbing is a long climb.

As is my preference with long climbs, I do it on my own…trying to maintain a consistent pace, cadence and wattage.

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Looking at the climbing graph you can see it is a solid climb, starting at just under 500 metres above sea level, heading to just under 2000 metres, with 4 slight reprieves on the upward journey….small, but welcomed.

The temperature was in the high twenties and I sweated, necessitating a quick water bottle fill at a small Italian village..walking into a bar asking for some tap water.

Again, there were thousands of cyclists on the roads, some in small groups including one team wearing blue that had a strong cyclist with their hands across the shoulders of the second cyclist helping push them up the hill.

Electric bikes…there were a few of those. One lady went last me a few times motor whirring, and then she would stop…

An Italian rider asked me where Clive was??  ( I was wearing Italy Bike Tour kit, and Clive is the IBT owner). I told him ‘somewhere between the bottom and top’….but not riding! He laughed. I saw this guy a few times as he pulled over and was chatting away to people.

The higher you climbed, the temperature dropped, but the spectator excitement rose as you were cheered, had horns blared at you, and one couple rang their cow bells. Yes, gimme more cow bells!

More alcohol was being consumed and I was offered a glass of wine…and a sausage….there is a direct correlation between noise levels and alcohol!

Passing through the 25, 20, 15, 10 km banners they finally went 9,8 and so on until the 2 km mark , where they then drop by 100 metre increments…nice feeling!

I had been suffering painful stomach cramps the last 5 km or so and was keen to get to the bathroom!!

Down the finishing shute I was astounded by the beauty of the area. Cervinia is a valley of mountains, with the Matterhorn looming in front.

I could not get to the finishing line due to it being blocked by security forces some 200 metres out so that was it. Stop the Garmin!  Time to soak up the atmosphere and find a bathroom!

Alas, I needed to pack my bike up first, ready for the flight to Rome….then…..bathroom and then this…

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Cervinia is an awesome village, skiing and rock climbing mecca. You could see people skiing high up.

After the race we wander around, finding gelato…and then the Wymper bar, dedicated to Wymper an English man who was the first to climb the Matterhorn.

Outside the skies were darkening, and then BANG! Thunder rolling around the valley and we all try to hotfoot it back to the sanctuary of our hotel, making it just before the rain bucketed down. Others were not so fortunate.

We stayed in Cervinia until about 10 pm, having a meal at the hotel just metres from the finishing line.

Late night as we arrived into Torino to prepare for a 4 am alarm to transfer to Rome and the Giro finale.

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The amazing race

I awoke to this view at nearly 1900 metres in beautiful Jafferau, close to the French border.

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Hotel Jafferau is right on the finish line of the days Giro..the race that will cover Colle Della Finestre ( that I climbed the previous day for a new ascent record), and a climb that we will do this morning from the town of Bardonecchia.

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Some views as we get our bikes ready to ride.

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We ride down the descent into the town, passing many cyclists and walkers heading up for vantage viewpoints for the Giro’s last climb and finish line. Some have camped overnight, and others are busy writing words of support for their favourite riders on the road.

 

A bunch of us go for a little extra 10 km ride directly towards the French border, passing through Melezet.

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France

Back into Bardonecchia for a quick coffee, I am keen to complete the climb sooner than later given the number of people meandering up the narrow road. On the way to a cafe, there is a cycle museum displaying some old bikes.

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Not sure my arms would be long enough…

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Check out the drive mechanism

The streets are decorated…

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Again I took no photos on the climb…it is a solid shorter climb of over 7 km.

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It is a climb where there really is no respite. The temperature is really warm at around 29-30 degrees, and I am sweating.

I plug away, again using my power meter to sit on a wattage and not over extend.

There are people who cheer and encourage, some offering cups of wine, and a sausage!

I ride over fresh paint work with the artists still painting.

I need to call out to many walkers who meander all over the place without any thought of anyone else. It is really hard when you are climbing to meander around them, hoping they won’t suddenly veer.

However my biggest shout is reserved for a bunch of male cyclists descending towards me, hogging the whole road. I call out to them but they don’t fall into line until I shout something far ruder, but universally understood! They moved then!

Back at the top there is now heavy security in place and lots of obstacles..shower, change and a group of us sit and watch the race unfold on tv.

What a race. Froome had made his solo breakaway and we were all really keen to watch him, and the other riders climb Colle Delle Finestre, particularly the dirt section.

Froome handled it better than me 😂 and it certainly seemed to have dried out a lot more in the 24 hours. Other riders slipped and slithered at times, with the Maglia Rosa Simon Yates battling.

Once Froome hit the bottom of the climb we all went to find our positions…mine being up a bank…and this was my view as he heads to the finish line 50 metres away.

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What an extraordinary rider Froome is

Quickly Froome is lost in that mass.

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Now there are a lot of people up this slippery bank. I have my feet jammed against a tree to hold me, and there is this large Colombian man adjacent. He has come just to watch the Giro. He knows all the Columbian riders by sight, and there seem to be quite a few from his cheers.

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Some of the police below me…

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Many riders have crossed the line but we wait for the Maglia Rosa, Simon Yates, out of respect as the tour was just 3 days too long for him. He has lost over 30 minutes to Froome. We all felt for him climbing Fenestre knowing he was to lost the prized GC jersey.

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Yates at the finishing line

Back to the hotel past the convoy of team cars. It was very subdued outside the Australian team car. Sad day for the Aussie team, but I guess realistically they were not surprised. Froome had to attack today, as he did with Zoncolon. Yates is young and hopefully he will get a major win in the near future with Australia’s only Giro/TDF/Vuelts team.

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Many of the riders came past on the walk back and headed to the gondola for their trip back down the ‘hill’. It was a battle for them to get to the gondola.

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Two riders at the back tying to make their way to the front

 

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Was this Froome’s mode of transport? Certainly he would not have had to ride back down or nor did he catch the gondola. So either a team car or chopper.

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Tomorrow is Cervinia…another decent climb to over 2000 metres over 28km of climbing, but not as steep as the last few climbs.

I cannot sleep and I am writing this at 3.30am! Must try a bit harder!

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Pumped as….Colle Delle Finestre!!!! Yeah baby!!!

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.

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E83D9DD9-D72C-451F-865B-48461D0368A9In 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.

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Se tried to watch the riders head up to the stage along the road…

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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?

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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….

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Some of the hairpins from my ride data

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

😊💪🚴

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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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