Allez, Alan, Alan….Steve!

28 May

We have just gotten back from our weekend in Bormio, Italy where we went to watch the Giro D’Italia and primarily the 20th stage and penultimate day of the Grand Tour. The trip back took 4 hours as it should have, however, on the way down it took 10 hours. Quite depressing and we seriously contemplated turning around and just coming back to Munich after we came to the 3rd road closure for the evening. Besides this complete root around, the drive down there was very picturesque and we had quite a few “wow” moments.

Our hotel was in Bormio, however, the fastest way to get there is to go over the Passo Dello Stelvio (where the riders were to ride to the following day) and we had been told by the reception at the hotel that this road was open until Saturday….not so. We headed towards Pratto to drive from that side but were shut down pretty quickly by the Carabinieri who had already closed the road off. This was at 6:30pm on Friday evening and we were only 40km from our hotel however, this meant we had to go around and try it from a different side, through Switzerland. Things were looking promising as we started driving up the windy mountain roads and we were quite literally on top of the world, it was so beautiful. We were driving on the highest mountain we could see and there was snow all around us, it was just spectacular. There were no signs notifying us of a closed road until we got to the Passo where more Carabinieri stopped us in our tracks and told us we would have to find another way. At this stage we were a mere 18km from our hotel we just needed to turn right but weren’t allowed.

Down we went again, really quite pissed off at this stage and it was now 9:20pm. We found another way through Livigno so chins up, eyes pried open (well Mark’s anyway) and off we went….until the tunnel to get us to where we needed to go was also closed for repair for two weeks. How convenient! One of the workers told us of another way and said it would be 2.5 hours to get to Bormio. It was now 10:30pm and we had to stop and think if we wanted to drive yet another 2.5 hours to get to the hotel, or just drive 4 hours home…we’d come this far, might as well keep going.

With Markie risking a shortcut we made it to the hotel at 12:20am. We checked in, dragged our bikes and bags up to the room, and crashed out pretty hard. Lucky we didn’t have to get up too early the next morning as the riders weren’t going to be coming through until roughly 4pm so we had a bit of a sleep in before leisurely waking up and grabbing some breakfast before taking a short stroll around town and feeling the festive vibe going on around us. Our intention on Saturday was to ride our bikes up the same path the pro’s would be but stop around the top of the hair pins at the 8km mark…8km left for them to ride until they got to the top that is. While we were out walking around we saw so many people on their bikes heading up there and it was still pretty early but it made me quite nervous that we would get cleaned up by the caravan (convoy of vehicles that drive the stage about an hour before the riders come through and hand out goodies to the crowd) so we went back to the hotel and got all our gear on and bikes ready to make a move up the 13km we had intended on riding. This 13km was all uphill with no break and really quite a challenge. We didn’t do a warm up before beginning as we weren’t sure about timing so we just threw ourselves straight into the deep end. It was actually quite cool riding up because there were loads of people doing it and the road was closed to all other vehicles. It felt kind of like a really painful cycling party.

We managed to get up to our viewing spot with plenty of time and waited for the racers to come through putting our efforts to complete shame with the pace they were keeping. Like the Paris-Roubaix that we went to watch it was all over pretty quickly as they go past you, and that’s it. The good thing was there were a few groups so it was spread out over maybe 40 minutes or so. The reason for the title of this blog is because everyone yells “Allez” as the riders go past as encouragement but Mark and I would instead yell “Alan” and “Steve” – if you’ve seen “funny talking animals” from the BBC on YouTube you’ll know what I’m going on about. Here’s the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaPepCVepCg

After all the riders had gone through came time for the descent with every dick and his dog who had ridden up there now riding down. Descending is not my favourite part because I feel like I may very well topple over the edge of a cliff and die. Whilst the adrenaline is great and if I was familiar and comfortable with the roads and corners this could have been a blast but with so many people, the steepness of the roads and the constant reminder of a patched-up elbow I wasn’t in my comfort zone. Markie on the other hand…this is his favourite part. After we got back to our hotel we made ourselves respectable smelling and looking and headed into the centre for some dinner…a carb heavy dinner as the following day we intended on riding the whole mountain to the very top so we needed our energy levels to be ready. A fairly early night was had also in preparation.

So on Sunday…that’s what we did. We got on our bikes and this time did a warm up of maybe 5km, so not much, before getting started on our 21.3km climb all the way to the top. We both made it in under 2 hours and it was snowing and windy and really damn cold up the top of the climb. I had my star sign on my side of the Capricorn goat and I made it only just quicker than Markie but he was sick as a dog with liquid coming out of every oriface the entire ride and he still made it in one piece (but probably a whole lot lighter) so huge kudos to my battler husband. Markie flew down the mountain after we had a bite to eat up the top and took some happy snaps and I waited in the restaurant for him to come and collect me with the car because my fear of descending and the fact that I was numb all over was deterrent enough from riding down. I felt I had accomplished what I came there to do, and that was get up the bloody thing. We spent the evening in the sauna, spa, and steam room that the hotel had and gave our sore muscles some TLC.

That was the big ticket item of the week to be honest. I did spend some time in the kitchen whipping up another loaf of bread and some banana bread ice cream which wasn’t as good as the last batch because the flavour wasn’t really our fave. I’m having to just pick a number and then make whatever recipe is on that page of the ice cream book because they all look and sound so delicious that it will take me forever to settle on one. Next time I will be a little pickier though I think.

This week is a short one because we’ve just had another long weekend, got to love Bavaria, and then on Thursday night (annual leave on Friday for Markie) we are flying to Barcelona to watch the MotoGP in Catalunya and hopefully soak up some sun as we’ve got a fair bit of rain forecasted for Munich for the next coming couple of weeks.

I’ve really given you a cycling heavy blog but it’s going to be a cycling heavy few weeks still to go until Markie’s Raid is over. Oh and here is the link once more if you wish to sponsor him to complete this crazy venture and also donate some money to Shake It Up Australia – a charity helping, raising awareness and finding a cure for Parkinsons disease.

If you’re in Sydney this week, try and check out Vivid, where Sydney is transformed into a festival of light, music and ideas…it looks like it would be pretty cool. Have a good one!

Till next time…..xx

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