(Yes, I’m combining days in a post. It’s 8 months after the fact, I’m writing about rides that I’ve already written about 2 years in a row, and my work schedule makes writing a bit of a “little or nothing at all” prospect.) (In other words Dad, deal with it. She said lovingly.)
It’s funny how quickly you can become passively attached to how you think things are to be done, based on how they were done in the past. Or at least, how quickly I can…
At any rate, based on a grand total of two previous Day 1’s, I was a bit astonished to find out that the Italians were doing road work, necessitating a change from what I considered as the first day route. Inconceivable!
A little-known fact about me: I very occasionally have a teensy difficulty dealing with change. One appeal of getting to do this trip year after year is revisiting the beauty and challenge of it, while having some of it be familiar.
So instead, we did a slightly different route that was also delightful and scenic and a good way to shake out the legs, and I had a good time despite myself.
And to be fair, much had not changed. Gerardo was still a divine angel of delicious food and skillful support, Andy and Elaine were still wonderful, welcoming, and fun, Oscar was still delightful and cute, and Kerry and Roberto were still models of great riding buddies combined with skillful professionalism.
Another thing that hadn’t changed is that what counts as an easy ride on this trip is something with merely 100′ of climbing per mile. Practically flat!
The delight of watching other people discover how astonishing this area is just doesn’t get old. As wonderful as it was to do the first day ride for the first time, I think I’ve almost enjoyed it more the last two years, when I knew that the great view of Lake Alleghe was just coming up, or some other viewpoint (really, the whole ride is a viewpoint), and could anticipate the astonishment and joy of other people as they were bowled over by the next thing around the next bend in the road.
One would think that from one year to the next, the roads couldn’t change that much. And that certainly seemed the case on the Duran. The climb was hard to start, and then eased off towards the top, and Gerardo greeted us with delicious food. See previous years’ posts if you want photos.
After the steep descent, and after ignoring the life advice offered by passing through the town Dont, we started up the Staulanza. I remembered that it was steep to start, with more traffic than most of the roads we would ride on. I remembered correctly.
I also remembered that after the switchbacks, the cars thinned out a lot, and you were nearly to the top.
About that memory…
The cars did thin out, but I swear, they added a huge long stretch of road before the top of the pass. Once we were on it, I went from “yay, I’m practically at the top” to “oh no, I completely forgot about this interminable, never going to get there, part of the ride.”
Judging by the steepness of the slope, it was an easier section than the start of the climb. Judging by my disappointed expectations of being nearly done, it was the hardest part of the whole day.
And as I tried to sulk in my dark place, Ian pedaled along easily beside me, chatting merrily away (someone wasn’t out of breath…) and completely oblivious to the unfolding tragedy (someone hadn’t had unreasonable expectations of the climb based upon incorrect memory…)
The problem was, the views from that (forgotten) upper part are really wonderful, and they were totally spoiling my effort to achieve complete misery.
For the third year in a row, I failed to get photos at the top of the Staulanza, because that’s the kind of thinking-ahead person that I am.
At the end of the day, it was another amazing, pinch-me-I’m-dreaming experience. Even if Ian dared be cheery and talkative when I… Wasn’t. I was also pleased that, despite my lower base of miles going into the trip, I still seemed to be able to go up the mountains. Not really any faster than the previous year (oh well), but not really any slower either. Which all considering, I had no reason to expect to be the case.
And I just love riding these roads.
Day 1: 22 miles, 2,300 feet
Day 2: 43 miles, 6,300 feet