Well, that was an unintendedly long cliffhanger from the Day 2 write-up–my job got a bit all-consuming. Wonderful, but all-consuming.
Anyway, when I left off over a month ago, I was preparing for Sella Ronda day, and hoping that I would fare better with it than I had the previous year.
The weather was much more auspicious–a decent temperature, and more importantly, no insane wind. We got to the Serrai di Sottoguda, the path through the narrow gorge that is now a park, where last year I thought to myself “sign me up for next year.” This time I was prepared, though all I can say is that the pictures don’t even come close to doing it justice.
Many sections of the Serrai are double digit gradients, but you don’t notice–you’re too busy gawking and exclaiming over the beauty of it.
But, nothing lasts forever (even if some climbs feel like it), and we eventually emerged onto the main road to start the Fedaia climb proper (as opposed to all of the other climbing we had done to get there, which apparently didn’t count.)
To my initial delight, the wind was not blowing like mad! I was able to stay on my bike without fear of suddenly being blown to the other side of the road, or even blown right over! But as I rode, I was noticing “this part is really hard, I don’t remember it being this hard… Oh right, I was walking this section last year.”
So the improved weather was a mixed blessing. I did what I knew I was capable of, ride the whole climb, but boy was that an even harder climb than I thought it was!
At any rate, as difficult as it was, it was an improvement on the previous year when I thought I was in over my head and didn’t know, given the wind conditions, whether I’d make it through the day. My mental state this year was also improved by the fact that the pass wasn’t freezing cold–last year I thought I’d never be warm again.
After some snacks–including the Tuscan tomatoes–I was feeling pretty chipper and ready to go. And this time I made sure to actually look at the lake and glacier on my way down.
At this point, I don’t have tons to add about the ride from last year’s two part write up. This year, we had lunch partway up the second climb (Passo Sella), instead of partway up the third (Passo Gardegna), which changed the rhythm of the day a little. But the day is still a magical experience of an incredibly hard climb, and then everything getting progressively easier from there, until you think you’re pretty awesome at this bicycling uphill thing.
I rode different parts alone or with people than last year, which made the same ride new. The comradery up a climb when you find someone of a similar pace can be really special–yet being alone to look around and wonder at the beauty that surrounds you while riding at your own whim is also its own delightful experience.
Sella Ronda day is really special–it holds so much of why I love this trip and love cycling: challenge, fun, beauty, food, freedom, accomplishment, fellowship–the List goes ever on and on…