03 July 2009

Daily Transalp DAY 5

Dinner in Livigno.

Today's report:

Day 5 - 3550 meters of climbing, starting in the morning from 550 meters elevation and going up the Stelvio to 2758 meters over 60 km. We survived.

David J and Juliane completed the stage in 7:11. Jerome and I were around 7:50, too close to the 8 hour cut off.

My rear tubular tire sidewall started to separate on the approach to Stelvio, and there was no support vehicle or mechanic in sight, so I climbed with it, still rideable, figuring I would either find a support vehicle, change it at the pass before the dangerous descent, or earlier if it flatted. It went "pop" or more like a "boom" at 1900 meters, and I was able to change it and go again after losing 10-15 minutes. Jerome went ahead, hoping to find a support vehicle, and waited for me at the top. Stelvio was spectacular, breathtaking, even a bit vertigo inducing!

Caught in the rain on Stelvio:


I saw the intense German guy who criticized my cheap tubular that first evening in Sonthofen, told him my story and admitted that he was right! We had good discussion about tubulars. Of course, Continental (the German brand) is good. Juliane agrees.

The tire episode put us deep into the back group of stragglers. We descended stelvio safely and arrived at the second rest area (still no mechanics) just as they were starting to take down the flags.

The second group of passes (Foscagno and the d'Eira) was much easier, only 7-8% grade most of the way, 1000 meters elevation gain, so just a little more than matsuhime from the south side or hakone. A cool rain fell that, as usual, turned Jerome into a monster climber. I lost Jerome about 1/2 way and he climbed at 12-15 kph to the top, while I pushed on at 10-11 kph, both of us passing people and clawing our way back through the bottom of the rankings. He again waited at the top (of Foscagno), and after a little descent in the cold rain of 2300 meters elevation, we got the surprising pleasure of another climb of unknown height--just to add to the pressure of whether we would make the cutoff time or lose an hour.

Jerome, still stronger, was 100+ meters ahead at the top and kept ahead on the descent to the finish. In livigno, the finish was set up oddly after a left turn onto a steep side street. I got stuck behind a car at a red light and then was waved onto the steep slope, and tried to shift into an appropriate gear. My chain got stuck, and I needed to dismount, fix it, then ride up the 50 meters to the finish line for my time. Fortunately very few people were waiting or watching, in the rain.

Newsflash :
Siegfried and Brunhilda are now 10 minutes back in the Mixed category GC. They lost a lot of time over the Stelvio. Stage 6 should be exciting!

Looking down the valley from Livigno (a large ski town and duty free capital in a meadow at elevation 1850 meters):


The new Positivo Espresso Slogan :

"Die Strasse bleibt die Strasse"

"The road is the road." It takes us up. It takes is down. It has an end.

1 comment:

miles p said...

Guys, great blogs. "the road is the road". I love it!! Dave L, Matt Parker and I are going to put that on a jersey for next Matt Tour!