5:00 Bus from Arabba to Milan
11:30 Malpensa Airport Milan
12:30 try to checkin for 18:55 flight told to come back at 16:30 so had some lunch
14:00 went to sports bar to play cards 500 and watch giro stage on tv. Go Jens !!!! He is a ledgend
17:00 check-in go to lounge – full up on food & drink
19:00 fly to Hethrow – change terminals – brief shop – into lounge
22:15 Hethrow to Singapore
?? Singapore to Melbourne
Saturday 5:30 – 40 min queue to clear customs in mlb
Home by about 6:30am May 31st
So the last day of riding presented itself to a group of ameteurs with pretty tired legs. Troels our riding guide had some further punishment in-mind. And we had to be finished by early afternoon cause the bikes had to be cleaned, striped and packed away. So today we went up Passo Campoglono which is right outside our doorstep and although quite steep in parts but only about 300 meters. We then moved onto the main course for the day – up the Passo de Valparola, about 15km and about 1000 meters. On the climb I was trying to stay in the front group with Troels. Steve took the lead, with Dave on his tail – then Steve stopped – I think to take a photo so Dave had a gap. Was Chatting to Troels for a while – well he was chatting – I was puffing – I dont think he even broke a sweat. So Trols then put the hammer down and joined Dave in front – I tryed to go with him but couldnt hold his wheel. Then Christophe the mechanic also flew past trying to join Troels and Dave. I held my own just infront of Klaus who again proved very quick despite his lack of bike experience. I think marathon running and hill climbing are pretty similar !!. So great ride up and an even better ride down. Maximum confidence on the windy descent back down to the main road, and some pace on the final 10km into Arabba
Garmin riding data
Despite the 4:15 am start tomorrow we manage quite a few beers in the bar as we say farewell to many new freinds
Then a farewell dinner complete with prizes and a very funny Troels
Oficially a rest day but we felt like a ride anyhow. So after a bit of a sleep in we got out and a group of us went up Passo Pordoi. Wanted to take it all pretty easy but competitive juices started to flow. US guy Dave was very strong but half way up he changed gears and suddenly slowed – so I kept the pace and took the lead – over the next few km he slowly clawed his way back to my wheel, passing me with about 1 km to go. I still felt pretty good and thought I’d have another go as he clearly thought he had be beat. So I dropped a gear an lifted the pace from 12-13kms to 16-18kms and started to close the gap. I took the lead with about 200 meters to go and then Dave came again. So in a sprint finish I held on to win. that was a bit of fun – we even had applause from the tourists up the top. I guess they saw 15 odd Team CSC guys and thought we were the team. Beautiful sunshine, awsome mountains, good coffee, lots of photo opportunities on the way down – getting more & more confident with the down the hills
Then later today mountain picnic – walk of about 4 km up the hills, actually quite hard on the legs. Nice rolls, wine and a great pear – very pretty, sunny a little like “The Hills are Alive”. Walk back, great Gelato for 1 euro, dinner later on after we discover the hotel, pool, & sauna’s – niiiiice
So with freshish legs we set off on the laxy 20-25 kms down to the base of Marmolada. I was in the front group with Trols and a few others, but I couldnt keep up, found my spot behind the dutch marathon runner guy Klaus and felt pretty strong up the climb. Managed to complete it in 1 hr 8mins – thats a little better than race day !! A whole 55mins better.
Back to hotel at top pace. 50kms ridden and shattered. Lunch pasta, pizza and coke from our fav resturant. Then back to hotel to watch the mountain Time Trail on tv. Jens again did well – finishing 11th I think on a climb that looked very steep toward the end. So in the buss and off to the town where Team CSC were staying. Great dinner in their hotel, chat to mechanics in the Team van and walk through their bus and ect.
Sat down to dinner and the riders come down 1 by 1. Each time we cheer them. None quite as loud as for Jens. Great dinner and then Q&A session with Kim Anderson and the riders. I asked the riders how hard stage 15 was and they all agreed it was one of the hardest days racing they had done – That made me feel a little better about my 10 hour epic. Photo and autograph with Jens and back in the buss to Arabba
This morning was the real Giro Race day and we spent most of the morning just watching things take shape and eventually watching the start at about 12:30. We then had to run to the busses as everyone else ran to their cars and busses. We then set-off to our Marquee, which was about 5kms from the finish – right near Marmolade, great big TV, food, coffee, champagne, wine – almost forgot about the pain from yesterday ! Amost !
It was truely unbelievable to see the speed at which the pro-riders came past us. Most of us lined the path, leaning inwards and outwards as the never ending stream of Police and motorbikes and helicopters cruised by. Some of the fans were a little too eager and when the 3rd group went past us – including Jens Voight Some fan waved a flag right in front the riders, so the lead rider came to a stop. Which meant everyone slowed and Jens actually fell off – well i think he just got his foot out – anyhow one of our CSC dutch guys helped him back on and gave him a push for good measure
So back in the buss and dinner back in Arabba – very tired tonight
Weather looking like its going to warm up so Trols decides tomorrow we go and climb Marmalade before it gets too hot. So I mentally prepare myself for that last hill again.
An early breakfast at 5:30am – a great buffet selection of cheese, meats, croissants, yogurt.
Beautiful sunny morning, but pretty cold – lots of layers, 2 sets of gloves and ready steady
Ready at 6:30 for the 7:00 start
Then away we go.
Even at top top pace I’d be on the bike for 8 hours, so I decided to start out very slowly. We had great starting positions right in the front – which is great bacause some of the back riders have to walk for some time before they are able to ride. I got pushed into the fence at the start – some eager Italian rider, he might have said sorry – else might have told me off hard to say. I’ll divide this post into each of the 5 peaks because thats how my mind took on the race. I say race – but this was a survival task for me.
Hill 1 passo pordoi – 30 meters into the race it starts, about 7km, about 700 meters, steep and winding – just like any big Alp on TV tour de france, big switchbacks upon switchback, layer upon layer. Feeling pretty good, taking it nice and easy, HR well under 150 and being passed by aprrox 400 Italians.
Bike was making a little noise in the most frequently used gear, which brought about lots of comments from other riders – none of which I could understand.
So made it to the top in pretty good condition 48mins and took a little break to catch my breathe and thoughts before the decent. Also put on winter gloves and vest – It was really cold on the way down.
Next was 30km of downhill – conciderable speed, even some drafting as well, completely warmed down. Beautiful small villages – storming through with pace.
Hill 2 San Pelligrino – about 10km, about 800 meters up. Felt prety good up this one – even pushed the HR up above 150 in patches – clicking sound from gears is a little annoying. Really felt like this is going to be a long day in the saddle, riders thinning out. Being passed by MTB bikers due to their gearing …. and perhaps fitness as well 😉
Hill 3 San Tomaso – really more of a pimple than a hill, quite enjoyable really. I remember passing a few riders – looked like a husband and wife in blue club gear. Then 5 mins later they pass me back – husband with his hand behind her back pushing her up the hill. Victors knee starts to hurt here. From here we dropped down for a lovely cruise down by a lake Alleghe – then up to the food stop and Mavic mechanico truck. I eat everything in sight then get my bike looked at by the Mavic guys – he looks at my bike and says ooooooo Fabian …. this is Fabian’s bike …. u fabian ? I say I wish – I think he was a little afraid of the bike actually – so he tinkered then said all ok – I had some more food then rode off with Victor – now the bike was slipping gears – so I went back to Mavic and the other guy tinkered – seemed ok this time worked alright. With Vic’s knee hurting and the decision turnoff for Medium or Grand comming up – he went the short and I went the long at 3:45 riding time and 85kms done and dusted. I was actually feeling ok but was now in unfamiliar territory. My mantra at this point was three moutains to go – “killer, hard & killer”
Hill 4 – Killer Passo Giau 1250 meters, over 16km- I started this one out by myself. I really was alone for about 5 kms before I caught another rider and then some other riders passed me. I remember getting about 5 kms into this one and thinking I still had over 1000meters to climb – what the heck am I doing here. This mountain was hard steep and unrelenting. This mountain almost broke me – but somehow I managed to stay on the bike grinding my lowest gear at about 40 RPM. As my will gets beaten, so then does my body. My left foot under the ball of my foot doesnt want to put pressure on the pedal, without enormous pain. So I limp along at 5kms an hour in constant pain- but I dont give in. I slowly weave my way to the top to the now familiar snow covered lunar lanscape above 2000 meters. At the top I again eat everything in sight and massage my foot to ease the pain. I’m really not sure if I can continue to climb but I figure I’ll roll down the next hill and see how I feel. This monstor took me 2 hours and put me in serious danger of not meeting the time cutt-off – 100kms done.
Hill 5 Passo Falzarego – 500 meters, 6 km. In comaparison this one was nice and gentle and easy. It had its steep bits but overall felt pretty good up this one. I even managed to chase some dude and pass him, which made me feel better about the other guys passing me 😉 Still took me over an hour for the climb. With fresh legs this would be about 30-40mins tops !
Hill 6 Passo Fedaia – 1000 meters, 13 km, riddiciously steep at some points, riddiciously beautiful as well. Known as Marmolada this climb was very pretty. Passed through several cobblestoned villages and eventually up a narrown gorge, complete with waterfall. At the top of the gorge my left foot decided it could not push anymore so I hopped off the bike and started to walk. Conciderably less effort walking at 4kms compared to riding at 5kms, but embarressing none-the-less. Lots of people setting up their tents ect and quite a few comments of encouragement. I even offered the fake excuse mechanico to one Italian guy. I simply couldnt turn the pedals due to my foot. Then with 3-4kms to go and the road getting steeper. Pete from CSC came up behind me and simply said – “get on the bike” so I did – and whilst I couldn’t put enough pressure on the padals to hold his wheel, and the 10 hour time limit came and went, and the sweeper vans came and went, I slowly rode on – like a slow motion turtle in a foreign land !
So I came to the finish at about 5:45pm, 9:39 riding time, a little over 5000 meters elevation, Garmin telling me I used 9566 cals. In true Italian efficiency race time was finished at 5:00 – therefore when I got to the top, no timing matt, no tent, no bags, no busses. So Pete and I rode down to where we thought the busses might be and there was nothing – so we sat down and concidered our options – in complete and utter fatigue. I remember Pete saying I’m know as a bit of a mountain climber at home and I can’t beleive I didnt even finish !!. Anyhow we had to get back somehow so I called Vic for a lift. Thank goodness he answered the phone and thanks for getting them out so fast to pick us up. We sat and waited for over an hour, slowly getting colder and colder – I was shivering and I reakon another 30 mins and I would have been in trouble. Blue van came with Jo, Svend & John … mmmm heater on full. Thanks very much for the pickup Gents – drive back to Arabba, completely exhausted – quick shower – just made it to dinner – shared a few war stories about the day
– cant remember going to sleep that night – wonder why
Garmin riding data for the day