Sixth Day’s ride.

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

Fifth day’s ride

22nd August.

I decided to drive the car for the first part of today’s ride, as I was tired. For the first few days we didn’t need the car, as we had  hugged the coast  we could use the train to fetch the car at the end of the stage.  Today though, we were heading inland to Garessio.

Geoff and George, Aka the men in black.





About 50 kms into the ride, disaster struck. George crashed.  Badly.  With the help of a local Italian cyclist, we called the ambulance. 

Richard reckoned that the brakes had locked due to a faulty cable. George hit the road hard. He had broken his leg, badly.  His tour was over, and so was his World Championship participation. 

Eventually George was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Savonna hospital.  Geoff went with the Ambulance, and we took the bikes to the hotel and then headed to see George in the hospital.  Geoff was able to get on the phone to George’s medical aid, and make all the arrangements.  He also spoke with some surgeon friends back in South Africa to try and understand the implications of the injury.  The language gap made it doubly tough in the hospital.

After a while at the hospital  we headed back, subdued.   George, we wish you a safe and rapid recovery.

Anyone wishing to pass on good wishes to George can of course do so here and I’ll pass them on,  or drop me an email and I will send you his SMS contacts.



Fourth Day’s Ride

21st August, Isabel, Richard’s girlfriend, and demon climber joined us on the fourth day. Geoff decided to rest his knee.  

We headed off from Nervi, and began climbing.  It was really hot,  but the views were fabulous. 



The demon climbing couple.

George’s technology woes continued, his bike puncturing again. His rims needed new rim tape,  as he had changed from tubeless  mtb tyres to slicks. He decided to head back early and get to the bike shop, supporting the Italian economy.


We finished at the town of  Varazze,  north of Genova. A busy holiday spot. the last few kms really hurt. By the end of the ride I was pretty shattered. We had ridden over 100 kms, and climbed 2070  metres. 3602 kcals.

At the hotel I ate a pizza as big as a mountain bike wheel without really noticing.

Third day’s ride

20th August. Geoff, Richard, George  and I headed out.

The ride started at Chivari, but finished at Nervi, 97 kms or so.  Again, a route involving two biggish  climbs.  George and Richard charged up the hills, leaving Geoff and I to plod up behind.  Geoff mentioned his knee on several occasions. I had no excuses other than genetics.



Here are Richard and George asking what had taken Geoff and I so long.



The final climb was especially lovely, it had the feel of a proper mountain.



With a spectacular view down to Genova and the sea.



The descent was a bit hairy, and George’s bike woes continued. His tyre punctured. George and Richard went to fetch the car and tend to George’s bike, while Geoff and I investigated recovery supplements in Nervi Harbour.





1880 climbing, 97 kms, 3025 kcals.

The Alps and Zimbabwe

A couple of years ago Sig, Dean and I rode up Mont Ventoux in France. It was great fun, and we also raised some money for a noble cause, Warchild. Our friends from around the world were remarkably generous, donating  a tidy sum.

Photo from the fantastic cycling blog of Will Davies. flickr stream here.

This year,in August, I’m being even more of an idiot.  I’m doing  a week long Alpine ride with a bunch of cycling mates, all of whom are leaner and meaner than me.  This time the money will go to the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation. It is a very reputable charity, and has Desmond Tutu as its patron.

Violent and sustained attacks against civilian voters in Zimbabwe are leaving behind hundreds of mutilated and injured men, women and children. Many of them have also had their homes burned and their possessions destroyed. ZBF has launched an emergency response to support victims with medical supplies, blankets, food packs and basic building materials throughout the country. We appeal for your help now.

I discovered the charity via the Sokwanele blog, which provides brilliant but harrowing coverage of  the goings on in Zimbabwe.

The donations page over on the site, here. It would be great if you could head on over there with your credit card handy.


Here’s hoping that by the time I’m back from the Alps, Bob is no longer in charge.

I’ll post a cyclogeek post soon, with the route, altitudes and so on.

Corruption kills.

James Farrar, SAP VP for CSR kindly invited me up to Berlin, with James Governor, Dennis Howlett, Michael Schwandt and Stephanie Raabe. We had a good, open session on web 2.0 and what it could mean for Transparency International. Dennis and James have both blogged about the meeting, so I won’t repeat what they said here.

A couple of things hit home from the meeting. In our little enterprisey blogging echo chamber, it is unlikely that anything we post or read could lead someone’s life being threatened. Egos may be dented here and there, tempers may flair at worst.

But when your organisation is

Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world. TI’s mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption.

The folks at Transparency International and the people they advise sometimes risk life and limb.

On reading the annual reports it made me realise that the Constant Gardener was more fact than fiction. I read of whistle blowers disappearing, and the extent and depth of corruption is numbing.

“Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. Some estimates put money corruptly leaving the continent at greater than that arriving as aid. Much of the money is banked in
Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies and sometimes British citizens or companies are involved in corrupt deals. We want our government to get tough on corruption.”

– Hugh Bayley MP, Chair; House of Commons Africa All Party Parliamentary Group,29 March 2006

I’m glad that TI are exploring how web 2.0 can raise awareness, drive funding and build a stronger link to the community. And I believe it can help make TI even more relevant than it is today. At the same time, they are right to proceed cautiously. There is a lot more at stake than I realised before I visited them.

As I slip my latte and blog about ERP, it is humbling to think that

Over one billion people lack clean drinking water; close to three billion lack adequate sanitation. In 2006, Transparency International co-founded the Water Integrity Network to bring transparency and integrity to the water sector.

We can all do our bit to fight corruption. It is sand in the gears of capitalism at best, and at worst it is counterfeit heart valves,and substandard concrete that collapses at the slightest shudder. Markets are not free if they are corrupt. Even the most libertarian of thinkers, Milton Friedman, asserted that businesses have no social responsibility other than to increase profits and refrain from engaging in deception and fraud. It is unfortunate that the second half of this quote is often ignored. I’ll leave the broader discussion CSR and GRC for another post, save to say there is more to this than SOX 404.

If you cant see the videos head over to TIs’s youtube channel, a good 2.0esque step…)

Bribery and corruption require both supply and demand.

If you want to donate to TI, or just find out more about what they do, head over to the website. Give them some linklove while you are at it.

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Sig, Dean and I rode up Mt Ventoux this weekend, partly for the warchild charity, but mainly just because it was there. Pity about the fog at the top, it meant we didn’t get to see the lunar landscape even the Simpson memorial was just about invisible. The Giant of Provence was still just as steep though….

 Sig provides commentary over at his blog. He also edited the video. Great soundtrack!

I’d like to thank Sig’s family for the fabulous hospitality, and Dean for sharing the long drive.  For those of you that donated to our charity. A BIG Thank you.. For those of you that haven’t click here. (update: I should also thank my wife for allowing me to postpone the wedding aniversary…)

We would like this to be the start of a regular blogger charity bike ride, so if you are interested in next year’s efforts, head over to the wiki.  and help get it started. Galiber perhaps?