Mike Simpson

Where Eagles Dare

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Today's plan was to ride the Giro's mountain TT course that the pros would contest in 2 days time at La Polsa. At 19km averaging 6% it would be a gentler test than yesterday crazy climb, and with a few kms of downhill in the middle it should be a fast effort. The highlight of the day however, was the section that bookmarked our TT effort. Something pretty unique.

The TT start was a 35km ride away, and to avoid a 4km tunnel where cyclists are not permitted, we took the cliff path. A pretty unorthodox route on skinny tyres this 5km descent, popular with mountain bikes was very heavily gravelled and from all the odd looks we got not very commonly undertaken on road bikes. The wow factor of the sheer drops and ragged cliff face was off the scale. And a good knowledge of cyclocross skills helped us through. An exhilarating start to the day.

Now to get to the TT start town of Mori. Luckily we came across a decent cycle path for most of the route. When I say decent I mean well thought out, as not only was the cycle path totally separated from the road, but in the main we couldn't even see the road through the wooded sections, lake paths and underpasses. So to the main job of the day. Start the clock and go. Yesterday's exertions had done some short term damage to my joints as almost straight away my glutes and lower back muscles were screaming at me. Blocking out their pleas to stop, I knew it would only be a few kms before other issues would supercede them. Namely oxygen debt and burning quads.

As expected there was nothing too steep here and the roads were new surfaced and immaculate . The lowest gear I used was 50/23. The initial hot temperature of the first 5km gave way to a head wind and then some rain. After the downhill section there were a few gentle gradient straights, and into the wind these were really tough. I was almost hoping for a super steep section to break things up. No kilomtetre to go banner up yet so it was difficult to judge my wind up to finish things off. Not 100% sure where the finish would be I carried on for a few hundred metres.

Done, now for a long descent back down. After stopping for a quick pasta lunch, we couldn't wait to get back on that cliff path, this time in reverse up hill. The rough terrain didn't seem so alien second time around and we burned up. Why wouldn't you take a road bike off road. It improves your skills, it heightens the feel from the terrian and it's just feels cool. So back on the tarmac and we just had a further uphill 10km back to the hotel. My legs will certainly be reminding me about the effort tonight.

Click images to enlarge.