Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Holiday week

I’ve been off all week, fairly relaxed and not done a lot.

Monday we drove out to Condor Green and rode the Millenium and Lune Valley cycle paths out to Caton.  Very nice and relaxed easy day after the previous 83 miles out to Arnside and back at quite a pace.

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Tuesday we went to see Another Place, the Anthony Gormley statues at Crosby.  We’d gone a few weeks ago but went to Formby ratehr than Crosby.  The statues were very impressive, especially the ones in the surf and those buried in the shifting sands.

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Wednesday was a bit blowy.  We went up to Silverdale to do a short walk along the coast and inland to Arnside Tower.  We had a nice sandwich and chips in the Silverdale Hotel.

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Thursday, Friday and Saturday were largely rainy or overcast.  We didn’t do much.  Today we set out for a ride but the rain came down and we cut it short.  We’ve ridden out to the pub this evening btu the weekly mileage is low.

I have finalised the details of a tour or the Scottish Borders in a few weeks, 400 miles in six days.  Hopefully the weather will improve!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Italy Day 6–Passo del Foscagno

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Italy Day 5–Stelvio South Side

Sorry for not posting for a while, life has caught up with me.  Here’s the rest of the Italy trip

Thursday was forecast to be bright and sunny but rather cool.  It sounded the ideal weather to attempt the Stevio.  We had decided to just do the south side from Bormio to the top of the pass and back.  Again it is climbing from the outset with little or no respite for 15 miles.

It was rather warmer than anticipated and we stopped outside town to shed layers.  The first section is a steady 6-7% with a final few switchbacks to a refuge where we stopped for a coffee

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There were a more switchbacks before the valley opens out into a high alpine meadow.  The gradient eases and you get a bit of a respite.

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As you approach the Umbrail turn off and the snow line, the road kicks up again with steep pitches and hairpins, the road lined with banked snow.

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The final 3k took 1/2 an hour.  Although it was cold, the sunlight was intense, glaring off the snow.

Finally, after 2 3/4 hrs we got to the top and the Coppi monument.  I was frozen, tired and very short of breath.  At 2758m this is the highest I’ve ridden for 20 years.

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After a quick lunch of pizza, we set off down.  The Stelvio is very popular with motorbikers as well as cyclists and the road was quite busy.  The bigger bikes can’t manoeuvre as easily as a bicycle and I quickly caught and passed a group of Harley’s.  As I stopped for photo’s every now and then, they would pass and I would catch up and re-pass.  In the end I overtook them 4 times before leaving them behind on the lower slopes.  It took 35mins to get down, taking it easy and stopping for photo’s.

Not a long day at 31 miles, but hard.

Evening meal:

Egg tartlet

Cuttlefish ragout

Beef Goulash

Fruit Salad & Ice cream

Creme Brule

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Italy Day 4–Mortirolo

Wednesday dawned sunny and fairly warm.  We decided to head to the Mortirolo.

First was a 20 mile, 800m drop down the valley to town of Grosotto.  It was a very pleasant ride following the old SS38 road, most of the traffic going through the tunnels of the new road. Italy 007Italy 015Italy 018

Eventually we reached the bottom of the climb.  Of the three routes up the Mortirolo, this is the hardest.  It was the route up in this year’s Giro, although I don’t think they went all the way to the top.

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In total there are 33 hairpin bends, all conveniently numbered.  Each house or farm on the way up also has its altitude on their name plate so you know exactly where you are, there’s no kidding yourself you’re nearly there.

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Part way up is a tribute to Marco Pantani, apologies for the poor picture, it was taken on the move and my camera was a bit sweaty.

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At this point my average speed had dropped from 5-6mph to 2-3 mph.  Some of the sections were brutally steep, only achievable after the respite of a flattish bend.

Eventually, after 1hr 45mins of climbing, I got to the top, in one go, no stopping.  I was knackered.Italy 028

Ian was next up a few minutes later.  He and the others had stopped to regroup a couple of times, to pick up the slower riders.

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followed by Graham and Jemima

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Alison, who got a mexican wave from some Dutch riders,

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and Karl and Chris.

We were all quite proud of ourselves.

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We dropped down the other side slightly to a Cafe where Jemima “inhaled” a plate of spaghetti, there is no other word to describe how quickly she cleared her plate.  We were still cold and tired and the weather looked like it was closing on the mountains to the north, so rather than do the Gavia as well, we set of back over the top and down to Grosio.

This was a fast switchback descent, lots of gravel in the corners, but great fun.  I raced some Dutch guys down, but after one too many hairy corners let the faster one go.  The views on the way down were stunning.

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After a long drag back up from the valley to Bormio, we arrived back at the hotel weary but satisfied.

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54 miles

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Italy Day 3–Spa

Bormio is the site of a natural hot spring and has three spa/baths.  The weather today was truly awful so we headed for the Bagni Nuovi.

It was brilliant.  The first level contained several saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools and hydrotherapy pools.  Then there was the grotto area that had a number of interesting treatments, like a pair of elliptical pools that you walked through, one containing warm water, one cold.  Its supposed to be good for your circulation and certainly made our tired legs feel better.  There was also a big outdoor area with mud baths, hot tubs, more saunas, a swimming pool and much more.  My particular favourite was a eucalyptus shower followed by a sauna in a converted summer house, though the windows of which you could watch restarts and other birds.

We managed to spend 6 or 7 hours there.

Italy Day 2–Gavia

The forecast wasn’t great but  it turned very warm and sunny as we got ready.  At the last minute i swapped my rain jacket for my gillet, but did thankfully shove the jacket in my saddlebag.

The ride today was a straight out and back to the top of the Gavia.  Pretty much climbing for 25K from Bormio via Santa Caterina to the top of the Gavia and back down.  From Bormio to Sanata Caterina was about 13K an 600m of climbing.  I passed a guy on an old 5 speed carrying a bag on his back and a large carrier bag slung on the handlebars.  As we approached one of the steeper sections, this guy shot back past me.  Should I chase or let him go?  I chose to let him go, the humiliation of being overtaken would have been compounded exponentially if I failed to catch him.  This became the “Tim Diamond Challenge” whereby old people on unsuitable bikes would be pitted against me in races.  Very funny Karl, ha ha!

When we arrived in Santa Caterina the weather on the mountain tops had started to change, but didn’t look too bad.

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We set off up the remaining 13K and 800m of climbing.  Although I set off first, I was quickly overhauled by the stronger guys on the first few hairpins.  I settled into a steady tempo, 6-8 mph on the flatter bits, 4-5 on the steeper.

As I got higher, it started to rain.  Karl,Ian, Chris and Graham were waiting at about the 12mile mark.  I shouted to them that there was still 3 miles to go, Karl shouted back “and 500m climbing”.  I carried on, Ian shouted that he’d come and join me so I eased for a bit, but he never materialized.  The rain turned to sleet as we cleared the tree line.  I debated stopping to put on my rain jacket but figured I was warm enough and already wet.  I’d press on.  Then it started snowing.  The road pitched up even steeper for a bit. 

Eventually the Refuge came into view and I could get some warmth.

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Ian and Chris showed up soon after, equally wet and cold.  Then the others trickled in.

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There was a family at the refuge with two small children.   The father had told them that maybe with the snow, Santa would arrive.  Sure enough, he did!

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We waited til the snow cleared before setting off on the 15 mile, 45mph down hill back to Bormio.Italy 011

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Another short day, only 31/5 miles, but another Giro pass ticked off.