Mike Simpson

Looked OK on Paper

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A 70mile ride, two climbs with a drive before and after from our hotel. I had mapped out a ride which included the Gavia and the Motirolo, simple.....we told the girls we should be back by late afternoon. The drive over took an hour longer than I thought it would, these mountain roads take ages in a car. That and some serious faffing earlier meant it was not until nearly 1pm when we finally started the ride.

Straight away I knew the antics of the previous two days had rendered my legs useless, as I plodded up the early slopes. We ignored the Gavia chiuso (closed) signs and a kilometre further the barrier was down closing the road, cool at least we will not have any cars in our way. Soon we reached the snow line and things got a lot colder. The tunnel halfway up was like being in a freezer. Huge snow walls lined the upper slopes as the snow encroached on the road, first making into a single lane then nearer to top only a footpath wide of road was visible. I was gearing up mentally to having to yomp the last kilometre but was pleased to be able to pedal up.

We then had a long 30 mile descent, still not feeling great and with the 33 hairpins of the Mortirolo to go, I was eating all the provisions I had with me in the hope that food alone would get me up as my legs were still not interested. I'm not sure that the signs marking each hairpin helped me, 33,32,31,30,29 just seemed to take far too long with these rogue legs I had on. Luckily the weather was good, and the view at the top with the sun low in the sky was ample reward. The descent on the other side was very smooth and enjoyable, and we eventually got back at the car.

A successful ride after initially proposing turning back halfway up the Gavia. By the time we have found some dinner it was dark and our predication of getting back for afternoon tea was clearly massively misjudged. We drove over the Passo Tonale in the moonlight and I reflected on the last time I was here on my bike in a rain storm, although within 48hours it would be cut off by heavy snow like all the high passes that have effected the Giro d'Italia this year.

The sat nav had our predicted arrival time back at the hotel as 00.20, so we upped the pace to try and get back before midnight. At 23.55 we were close and by some amazing coincidence we were listening to a Kasabian album and the track 'I Hear Voices' came on, including the lyrics 'one minute to midnight'. At one minute to midnight we tore past and missed the turning into the hotel! A quick spin round and we got in the car park with a few seconds to spare. A full on day, triple epic and a tad longer than expected, I must try and plan more sensibly next time, although where would be the fun in that.

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