We were determined to continue with the tour. It might sound a bit corny, but I felt I was going ride up Morti for George.
Today was the toughest day of the tour, the Könnigsetape as the Germans say. Climbing well over 3000 metres, including one of the alps’ toughest climbs, the Colle Dei Morti. (also called Colle della Fauniera)
The full route can be viewed here.
Before we reached the major climb, there was the small matter of about 1800 metres of climbing. Geoff cleverly bagged the car. Isabel, Richard and I headed out.
Isabel, Geoff and I decided to cut out a bit of the flat stage before Monti, as we were worried about it getting dark before we could finish the day. Richard rode the flat bit, as he is a) fast and b) slightly nuts.
Colle dei Monti is famous in cycling circles, partly because of the memorial to Marco Pantani, the pirate. He won the Tour de France and the Giro, but was banned for drug use. He died, alone, of a drug overdose, in a hotel. There is a good piece in the Observer about him here.
For the cycling types, the climb begins at 824 metres above sea level. It ends at 2481 metres above sea level, 20,9 kms later. This is a climb of 1657 metres. This means an average gradient of 7,9. Problem is the first 4 kms have a really easy gradient, you pay for this later.
thanks to this site for the image.
The middle section is especially brutal, from the 7 km mark to about 13 km, as it has an average gradient over 10% and sections reach over 14%.
The climb was tougher than Mont Ventoux. It took me nearly 25 minutes longer than Ventoux did, and it seemed to hurt more. (Maybe this is also an age thing)
The soundtrack helped a bit.
Richard and Isabel rode up together, and Geoff and I plodded up at the back, Geoff finishing just ahead of me. The last few kms were all about staying on the bike. Thank goodness for the the 29 cassette.
Geoff took this picture quite near the top, by holding the camera behind his back.
The monument on top of the mountain, like the Simpson memorial on Ventoux, is not beautiful. but it fits the flawed and brittle brilliance of Il Piratti. I decided to don my pink outfit for the climb, as Pantani wore the magna rosa. Geoff named me Il Pinko.
Richard descending back down to the car.
We reached our hotel in Demonte, exhausted but elated. We also heard that George’s operation had gone ahead and seemed to be a success. All in all a good day. We found an excellent restaurant in Demonte and demolished a steak and bottle of barollo.
note: donations to the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation still open here.
KCal 4483, Climbed 3710, max HR 180