Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's the worst thing that could happen, Part II.

After watching the visiting group of riders from Hong Kong from behind the wheel of a bus for a few days, Deon and I were desperately keen to get some riding in. Today, the itinerary took us to lake Como in Italy then onto the Museo de Ciclismo, in Madonna del  before heading to Bormio for the night. It was purely a tourist day with no riding so we took our opportunity to get on our bikes. 

We arrived at the cycling museum at around 3pm and after a quick look, Deon and I kitted up. We checked out the map and including a Ferry trip across lake Como, it was a 140km trip to Bormio. This would take roughly 4.5-5hrs and as it was 4pm, we were going to be using every bit of daylight. We were cutting it close but... what's the worse thing that could happen?

We rode down the mountain to catch the ferry at Belagio. Fortunately, the ferry was ready to leave and we got straight on, wasting no time in our already tight schedule. 

On the other side, we rode along the side of the lake and saw some of the most jaw-dropping scenery I have seen in my time in Europe. It is what you imagine Italy to be like in the movies. Amazing buildings and huge hotels on the lakeside surrounded by polished timber speed boats, sun bakers and yachts. After several photo stops eating into our precious time, we set off for Bormio. 

The road from the lake to Bormio was a busy main road with several tunnels towards the end that didn't allow bicycles, so we tried to follow smaller roads beside it. 

After taking several wrong turns, we ended up on a dirt road with huge rocks that would challenge a mountain bike, never mind the skinny, high pressure tires of a road bike. We made it through safely but with time ticking down, we decided to try our luck on the main road. 

Thankfully, the road was slightly downhill and we were able to set a solid pace all the way to Tirano, 60km away from Bormio before it went uphill. We arrived at 7pm and refueled, giving us around 1.5hrs of light to complete the final 60km uphill run. We were not going to make it. 

We pushed on as hard as we could and fatigue began to set in as we fought off cramping and dehydration. At 8pm the sun was on it's way out and we were still 28km from home. Normally this isn't a big problem, but the final 10km was on a old road that was blocked to cars and included a steep 4km climb and a long, deserted tunnel. As we reached the base of the climb, it was 8.30pm and the sun went down. It was our last opportunity to call someone to get us before cars could not access the road. So we kept going. 

To give us a little bit of light on the climb and descent through the winding roads, we used a torch app on an iPhone 4. Needless to say, it was a dark final 10km. We were extra cautious as we navigated the hair pin turns on the descent in the dark. Here is a photo from my phone of the amount of light that it provided.

As we entered Bormio, we also realized we had no idea where the hotel was. We made a call and got the street name and hotel name. Problem was, we had no map. After asking several locals on the side of the road, we managed to find the hotel where everyone was finishing up dinner. 

At 9.15pm, we walked into what was quite a classy restaurant, in stinky, sweat soaked cycling gear. Everyone was surprised to see us and simply said, 'You guys are crazy'. We sat down and ate several plates of food in our cycling gear. I'm currently laying comfortably in bed, ready to pass out and happy the day was incident free. Well, relatively. 

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