Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gavia Pass


I was extremely disappointed today when James Shanahan, our Trek Travel guide, informed us we would not be riding the Mortirolo. It is the one thing I wanted to do on this trip.
Rainy Morning in Bormio

"Italy has its Mortirolo, mountain of death; 124 persons to date have died on Mount Washington. Windier than Mont Ventoux, deadlier than the mountain of death; this is why for cyclists, Mount Washington stands above all other climbs. It is not hard just because it is steep. It is also windy and cold enough to be dangerous." -- New York Cycle Club

I wanted to add Mortirolo to my list but that will have to remain unachieved. Left to my own devices, I would have ridden it and almost decided to anyhow. But it was better to be safe than be sorry, especially on the mountain called the mountain of death.

Leaving Bormio

In its place we rode to the Gavia pass. The beauty of an out-and-back (or up-and-down) was is that it is all uphill. Anytime we felt like turning around we could have.

Colin Giffney

Last leaving again, I always seemed to misplace something or needed one more item. I group left and I chased, although not far before latching on.

Caitlin Steele

Most of this week I rode with somebody. Only two of us came with nobody and today I rode with Colin (the other person who had no one) and Caitlin Steele. I was sweeping and felt better chatting with the last folks than simply riding ahead.

Although it had rained in the early morning, it was overcast and at first I was over dressed. I stopped to remove my jacket and rode only in my short-sleeve jersey.

On the climb Colin decided to really enjoy the memories of Stelvio and not suffer today. He turned back. Caitlin and I continued and were joined by Jim Ashton, who had stopped with his son, Chris, earlier. So Jim, Caitlin, and I made the climb together, talking the entire way.

Our first day was a simple up and over in which I rode the ascent with Caitlin and her husband, Nick. The second day, our first real climbing day,I rode the first climb mostly with Chris and Jim. Looking back at the week these were the folks I rode with most.

Today's climb was steady. There were sections that got to be a little bit hard, I registered 15% or 16% on the Garmin, but we went up together. On the lower section I was wearing a jersey but stopped to add my jacket as we got higher.

Caitlin Steele, Jim Ashton

At the top of the climb it leveled off, still a climb but only 1-2%. And it started misting a bit.

Jim Ashton, Caitlin Steele

As with many passes, there is a restaurant at the top and our folks from Trek Travel provided lunch for us plus a fireplace to warm up and dry out. For my descent I changed to mostly dry clothes. It took my one week but I learned to include a dry jersey for the descents although today everything would be wet again.

Headed out, it was raining. Cold. Fog. Visibility was poor, maybe 75 meters.

I passed three of our riders descending very cautiously then was on my own for a while. Not ironically, I was later joined by Chris and Jim and two others. If they wanted to ride faster today I was willing to let them. Slick wet roads were no fun. But we all settled in and took it as fast as we could cautiously go.


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