Final stint of Haute Route 2015…

My left ankle was so swollen and painful I could only pedal with one foot up the 1 mile to the 18:00 daily briefing in Bormio. Decided to see the doctor for emergency help. I’m not sure what he gave me but I want more! Within 12 hours the swelling and pain had gone, I felt strong and raring to go.

Day 5 (148km, 3600m) From Bormio to Meran starting with the spectacular Gavia pass – a 1300m climb up to 2621m immediately after breakfast. 7 deg C at the bottom. 2 deg C at the top. And if I thought the ascent was steep, the descent was ridiculous. Thank God we weren’t cycling in the other direction, as they did last year. Today was a huge success. With the help of the pills I had my best result so far – 124th up the Tonale – beating my team mate Gavin by a whole 2 seconds (the only time I beat him that week).

Proof that I was at the top of Gavia.

Gavia 2
The other side of Gavia. Nearly fell off a cliff taking these pics.

Day 6 (140km, 3300m) Meran to Cortina
An 1800m climb after breakfast, pouring rain and freezing cold all day. The Italian police stopped us racing up the final pass due to the weather conditions – a bit odd really as we had to cycle over it anyway to get to our final destination for the day.
The pills were still working well and gradually assisting my climb up the rankings.

Pouring with rain at the top of Sella

Rainbow over Cortina on arrival to finish off a wet and cold day with a silver lining.

Day 7 (174km, 1900m) Cortina to Venice
The last day. It had poured with rain overnight and snowed above 1800m, so we were greeted with stunning views and a winter landscape at the top of Passo Giau. I had a bit of a sense of humour failure when the media crew started throwing snowballs at us on the way up.

Paso Boldo
Top of Passo Giau.

Passo Giau

Descent from Paso Boldo. Looking back up at this from lower down, it was just a cliff and you would never imagine a pass could exist! I did, however, notice a very large (4m x 4m) plaque on the way down stating in bold letters in German (and bear in mind this pass is in Italy) ‘built by OberKommandist Herr Schweinhauser’. Apparently it was constructed and blasted out of the cliff face during the first world war, by 1400 prisoners of War. It wasn’t difficult to imagine German tanks rolling up and down it…

And suddenly, it was all over, at the finish line in Venice, 29 degrees warmer than the top of the pass a few hours earlier…

So some final statistics. Race time of 21h 17m, only(!) 5h 2m behind the leader, meaning he cycled on average 31% faster than me – and probably over 40% faster up the hills – incredible. The leader was ahead of several pros and usually number 2 or 3 on the Strava leader board up the majority of the passes. Total cycling time of 38h 59m for the week (average 6 hours per day).

Overall cumulative position at the end of each day:
Day 1: GC 186
Day 2: GC 177
Day 3: GC 164
Day 4: GC 161
Day 5: GC 148
Day 6: GC 143
Day 7: GC 133

Happy to have a rest week and I may just leave the bike in its box for a few days before venturing out again.

And finally, a little teaser just in case you are tempted click here …

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