14 June 2008

Epic Italy '08 Day 4

Epic Italy Day 4 – Cortina

We’re sleeping in Cortina for 3 nights, so we should get a few different routes in.
Unfortunately the community pool here is under construction so we have to use a pool that’s in Brunico 55km away. So the plan is to ride there and back today with a little bit of tacking on in various directions – that’s up to each person to decide.

The plan for today is up early to run (or not) eat, ride to the pool and be there by 9:30am to swim. We have the pool booked for 2 hours so there’s plenty of time to do what-ever people want to do today.

We mounted the bikes at 7:45 and it was pretty chilly! But at least it was clear. Newsom wanted to do some steady riding today and also wanted to get us to the pool in time so we thankfully sat on his wheel for nearly 2 hours. Since it was a net downhill by about 1,000ft. it was a pretty cruisey ride.

This pool in Brunico is really something. Its all stainless steel. Sparkling like new and warm and the sun was out so a really nice opportunity to catch a few rays. Since Steve was doing 6km a few of us had a chance to lay around like lazy farts on the warm tiles of the pool deck for a while before eating.

Newsom found us a really sweet bike path out of town all the way back to the town of Dobbacio 25km away and this trail really does have to be experienced to be believed. If you’ve ever done the bike trail over Vail Pass in Colorado you’ll have some idea but this one had quite a lot of firm dirt, crushed gravel, detours through little villages, along lakes, through little tunnels just for cycling through, bridges over the rivers, etc and sign-posted very well. We by-passed the “panoramic” bike bath route to Dobbacio too. Perhaps in another lifetime……….
Once we headed back up the pass towards Cortina it started to get very dark and rain was imminent. Most people decided to head straight back but Michael Peters, Jo, Steve and I decided to head up the Cime de Lavaredo which is a mean-ass climb finishing on a mountain top. It started to rain then the sky went completely black, it started pissing down and thunder and lightning (kinda far away…..) completed the picture.
This climb is considerably steeper than any other we’ve done so far on this trip. I was in my 30x27 for a lot of it during the last 5km which averages 14% with a few stretches of 18%. I did most of that last 6km at 7-9kph and had to work very hard to do that.
Luckily there’s a restaurant at the top and it was serving hot soup, beer and coffee. Perfect. They had a wood stove burning hot so we huddled around it making a huge puddle and flip-flopping our clothes on it so as to dry them without melting them. It did clear a bit so we did get some views before having to head back down. We knew we were going to freeze and with the wet road it would be hard to get down. Its tough to break enough to slow you down in the wet when its that steep. But we all made it down safe, rode over the Psa de Croci back to Cortina and felt damn proud to have done it.
Peters decided to tack on a bit more and ended up with 3 flats and had to call for help – very long day out there for him.

For others it was more of a “re-group day with “only” the run, swim and 110km ride with 2 passes.
Tomorrow is also sort of a “re-group” day with various options being discussed with the only real firm guideline to work around is the pool being available to us from 9:30 – 11:30.