Tuesday, August 10, 2010

..and we're back.. Eurotrip Day 7 part 2

Sorry loyal fan for the delay in part two.  My excuses in order are apathy, distraction, heat wave, something better to do and something else I forgot.

So, upon rejoining SS38 headed north from Grosio,   buoyed by the notion of my own wee getaway sticks heaving my ass up the badass Mortirolo I churned on up towards Sondalo where as mentioned in previous post I made a stop at a grocery store and picked up a few thousand calories.
1.5litres of sugary lemon drink, a chocolate milk thingy, a few bananas, two apples, an appoximation of a  strudel and a couple other intriguing looking pasteries.
Lunch on  the lawn outside.  it was fine.  (no cappuccino though)
Two bananas and an apple where reserved for 'on route'.

About halfway to Valdisotto I was gifted an extra little climb courtesy of road construction and a detour straight up the adjacent mountain.    It started like this;
18% right off the hop.  Killer.

Which was entirely unnecessary.   I won't say unwelcome because in retrospect it just added to the mentalness of the days overall numbers and without this detour the days elevation may even have totaled something less than 15,000ft. so it's a good thing for that detour.  It'd be a shame to come all this way and not cross the 15k ft threshold in a days ride.  no sir, that just wouldn't do.

Rolling through and on up to Bormio I stopped for my second official lunch of the day.  A big german black bread & sausage sandwich with heaps of senf, a pair of large apfelsaftschorle's and a cappuccino.   Magic.
Restored to an appropriate level of caffeination the map and clock were consulted.   It was still early and the Passo dello Stelvio was only a stiff 21km away so I quickly consulted with myself and agreed with myself that 21k was no biggie.
only the second highest sealed surface pass in the Alps. What could go wrong?

The first 5km went well.  A spirited pace was on offer courtesy of a brief rest, calories and caffeine.  (my sweet angel of amphetamine)  Kilometers 5 through 12 were pretty good also but the pace started to wane and by km12 was reduced to my usual plodding.  A banana disappeared.  The sugary lemon drink was going quickly.
From 12 though 17 the going started to get tough.  The getaway sticks didn't have much left.   The supply of sugary lemon drink was getting low.   (I'd left Bormio with three bottles. Two lemon, one water)
Some stops were made for picture making.    ..and bewildered wonderment at what the hell I thought I was doing.

Kilometers 17 through 21 are a bit fuzzy.  I don't remember much.  Not too many photos were taken. What that means is that my awareness was being directed inward as my personal universe started to collapse.  I recall remembering the apple in my jersey and positively attacking it and sucking on the core afterward.  I remembered also a mars bar and made like a woochipper on that too.   Besides those memories I don't have much to say about the last 5k other than it was really tough.  It did pitch up a bit more but the challenge was just that yours truly was coming apart and was held together by having no awareness of any other option other than to go forward.
But, of course I did manage to drag my ass up to the top whereupon official lunch no.3 was had.   And, I don't remember anything at all about it other than it was a largish sandwich of some sort washed down with two large Cokes and more cappuccinos.
Of course I snapped a few photos here for evidence, bought a dashing Stelvio jersey, and headed back to down a couple km to join up with the Umbrail pass back into Switzerland.

Umbrail was stunning.  The road itself was beautiful and not just because I was pointed down for the first time of the day.

Part of the Umbrail is unpaved.  It's a strange thing. The top is paved, the bottom is paved but the middle not. No matter though. The dirt surface is smoother than tarmac.  When I arrived in the little town at the bottom I secured a room at the Hotel Crusch Alba. (White Cross Hotel) an old almost castle type dwelling which has been in the hostess's family for seven generations.  The building itself is much much older, something in the neighborhood of the late 12th century if I remember correctly.   wacky.

My original route plan was to start the day in Bormio climb Stelvio from the Bormio side, backtrack a few km peel north down the Umbrail, Swiss side to Val Mustair ride around Piz Chavalatcsh and climb Stelvio again from the Prato side.  The Prato side is the super dramatic side with 48 switches all stacked like a great huge lightening bolt that would make Zeus envious.   But, alas that side of the pass was still closed when I arrived in Bormio.   This factored heavy into my decision to continue up Stelvio today rather than stay in Bormio.
So, while I've got Stelvio in the books, the bucket list demands the Prato side climb so that with the Gavia, Susten, Nufenen, Oberalp, Maloja and a few more jewels justify a return trip.

Numbers for the day; 108km with 4730m vertical.  Thats over 15,500ft.  ..mental.