Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 20: Glorenza to Bormio


We woke up once again to sunny skies and a very small breakfast where we nevertheless met Leo Verhoeven from the Netherlands. Leo was a fast rider who nevertheless was glad to show us the way to Stelvio via the bike path, so we agreed to meet with him. He was riding unloaded, and had made it to the 22nd hairpin the day before in an attempt to get acclimated.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

With Leo's help, we made it quickly to the next village where due to a computer crash, we were unable to buy sim cards for our phones. There was nothing to do but to ride the Stelvio, along the rushing river. The day quickly warmed up, making the riding inside the gallery at the foot of the mountain a welcome cool.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

At the first turn at the bottom of the hill (marked turn #47), I started feeling as though I was going to have a bad day. There wasn't a snap in my legs the way there was one the day before, and I found myself falling behind my companions. Nevertheless, they were happy to wait every so often while I caught up, and I decided to just take it easy.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

Stelvio is easily one of the prettiest climbs in the Alps, with views of the Marmolada glacier all through the climb, the only large glacier in the Dolomites. Taking it easy, I snapped picture after picture, but after a while had so much sweat on me that my camera lens fogged up!
From Tour of the Alps 2011

At the 22nd hairpin, it was only 11:45am, but I was beat. Phil and I sat down and had an ice cream while Leo pushed on ahead since he had plans for the afternoon that didn't include baby-sitting a couple of tourists. The ice cream felt good but didn't do much for the emptiness I felt in my legs. I took it easy for the rest of the climb. At around hairpin number 9, a motor cyclist heading the other way took a spill and dropped his bike. Another motorcyclist and a car driver stopped to help him, as did I, but as I stopped, I realized I was too tired to help anyone lift a 300 pound bike! All I could do was to push on ahead.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

By the time I got to hair pin number 5, I was reduced to stopping and resting at every hairpin turn so I could catch my breath. I realized then that I was probably suffering from altitude sickness, which was really strange, as I had none of those effects at 2500m while at St. Moritz and hiking hard, while Stelvio was at most 2800m. By all rights I should have had all altitude sickness out of my system by this time in the tour.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

This time, the summit was sunny and beautiful, so Phil and I put on our jackets and got photos at the summit sign before starting the descent. My last descent of the Stelvio was during an impending storm, so I didn't think the other side was pretty, as it looked pretty much just like an open cast mine. This time, with more time to enjoy it, I could truly appreciate the beauty of the pass.
From Tour of the Alps 2011
From Tour of the Alps 2011

Coming into Bormio, we got a hotel reserved in our name and then set off to find phone stores that could sell us Sim cards. After 2 failures we finally found the Tim store, which sold us prepaid phone cards for 17 Euros each, including free unlimited 3G internet access until the end of September!

We got to our hotel, took showers, and hung out our clothes as a storm blew in, raining hard right after dinner. The forecast tomorrow was pretty bad, but we were still optimistic.

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