Dolomites 2016, Giau day

Since the previous day was supposed to be a riding day, then was declared a rest day when the weather looked lousy, but I went riding anyway, I don’t know what day of the trip it is anymore.

So let’s settle for Giau Day.

The oft-photographed peak at the top of the Passo Giau was being atmospheric this year

Earlier in the year, I was excited to watch the Giro d’Italia go over the Passo Giau in stage 14. They showed me problems I didn’t even know a person could encounter while cycling, such as going so fast up the 10% grade of the Giau that they were forced to stop pedaling and coast around the hairpin bends.

Richard encourages us with the thumbs up while going past some of the road paint left over from encouraging the Giro riders

It’s always nice to be able to exclude something from the list of things one will ever have to worry about.

It was also nice to hear the Giro announcers go on and on about what a beast of a climb the Giau is. Sure, I think that nearly 10 miles pegged at 10% nearly the whole time is tough. But what do I know? I don’t have to coast around corners going up it… But apparently the pros agree–this is one tough climb.

And I’ve really enjoyed it each time I’ve ridden it. The challenge it presented me the first year, when at first I thought I wasn’t going to keep my breakfast down, turned to joy as my stomach settled, and by the top I felt on top of the world. The climb became a symbol of perseverance and success–and even fun.

So after two years of climbing it pretty solidly, I decided this year that I didn’t have a ton I felt I needed to prove. I dawdled up, stopping for pictures as I went. (Clicking on a picture will take you to my Flickr photostream if you need to see even more…)

Did I mention the Giau is steep? The road gets up to the level of the house pretty soon after turning the corner…

The road engineers had to coil the road like a snake to get up the mountain

Even when you can start to see the peak at the top, you are a long, long, long way from being done…

The flowers are pretty…

The way the view opens up towards the top is pretty nice too…

Photo time with Andy! Aren’t we cute in our matching jerseys… Or something…

Victory! We were atop the Passo Giau!

But the day was not done, not by any means. There was some Very Important Business left, namely, lunch! Like last year, we proceeded to the Rifugio Cinque Torri (via the super-fun descent off the other side of the Passo Giau, and a climb partway up the Passo Falzarego). After changing into non-sweaty non-cycling clothes in the parking lot, up we went on the cable car to a lunch site that stands out for scenic beauty in a region stuffed silly for scenic beauty. And ate some really delicious food–so hard to come by in Italy…

Non-sweaty, non-cycling clothes, and Gerardo! It doesn’t get any better than this!

Sheep and scenery on the chairlift ride

It’s even greener and more lush than this. Seriously. No wonder there are so many sheep.

Instead of including all the photos from the top, just click on this one and look through my photostream, if you think this is remotely scenic.

After lunch, we clambered over the rocks, paths, and sobering WW1 bunkers. As beautiful as the region is, the idea of being huddled up there in winter with people shooting at you from the hill opposite is indescribably awful. What the reality must have been… And for what?

Once on the road again, it was up and over the rest of the Passo Falzarego, plus the little extra bump of the Passo Valparola, and then down to Badia, where we would be based for the rest of the trip.

To Badia!

This year we all had the good luck of staying the Gran Ander, last year’s hotel of the awesome breakfast and the bonus climbing. Yay?

This was before dinner. Andy was enthusing. Ian was hungry. He was in his best McKayla Maroney Not Impressed mode.

This is what Ian was looking at while being Not Impressed

Between stopping for photos up the Giau and stopping for lunch up the Falzarego, it was a pretty relaxed day. And then I look at the ride stats and realize what a ridiculous statement that is!

Giau Day: 37 miles, 6,700 feet elevation.

 

 

 

Dolomites 2016, Day 4 (I guess)

Today was supposed to involve riding up mountain passes and such, with a rest day planned later. But instead, the weather forecast looked threatening (not the end of the world, given the neoprene gloves, rain pants, and other such winter clothing one packs for this trip) but also looked fabulous for the rest of the trip.

It stayed nice in Alleghe, but if you look off in the distance, it’s raining in the mountains

So Andy of the “I’ve biked in bad weather, and have nothing further to proves as regards that” fame suggested moving the rest day to today. Since I figure that one of the things that I’m paying for is to follow the advice of a Giro d’Italia-winning pro cyclist as regards my cycling, I had my orders. Rest day it was.

And I might have been a wee bit sore from the brief experimentation with not keeping the rubber side down the day before.

Unfortunately, I can also be a sucker for peer pressure, especially as regards things that are probably stupid ideas (see the VOV incident of the year before…)

So when I wandered through the lobby area of the hotel, and Kerry started twisting my arm to go ride up the gradients-in-the-teens Serrai di Sottaguda with some folks (“everybody’s doing it!”), I naturally caved. Because nothing says “Rest Day” like biking up an 18% slope.

And as is usually the case when I let myself get talked into something I know better than to do, it was a lot of fun. The group of us dawdled along, took photos, stopped to admire the view, and somehow really did manage to make a rest day out of 18%.

They take their wood stacking seriously in the Dolomites

Time for us all to stop and take a picture of the waterfall

After ascending through the Serrai di Sottoguda, we had to take to the road to come back (for some reason, they don’t want bicyclists zooming downhill through crowds of gawking pedestrians on a path that is sometimes just a few feet wide!). Though it’s always a little sad to leave a car-free paradise, the road was one heck of a fun descent! Some folks decided to stop at a cafĂ©, but I decided to just keep it rolling gently back to the hotel.

And then I did what I had originally planned to do, and took a slow, feeble rest day amble around Alleghe.

They also take their flowers seriously in the Dolomites

It’s the Dolomites. Even a rest day amble involves a lot of elevation gain

Day 4/Rest Day: 15.3 miles, 1,600 feet.

Ignore the bit where my GPS got lost and thought I was scaling the mountain…