Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 2: Ronde Sella

The day that just days ago was forecasted with heavy rain brought anything but. It poured buckets overnight, possibly inches of rain. It stopped by 4am.  When we got up, it was chilly, breezy and mostly sunny. Perfect climbing weather. And climb today, we did. We rode the famous Ronde Sella, perhaps the most scenic ride in Dolomites.

Our rides are split into A, B and C groups. I started with the B group last night, as I thought I would stop to take pictures, but heavy rain prevented that for the most part. I rode away from the B group and right through the A group. Had to really, short sleeves in bone chilling rain left me no choice.

Today I decided to ride with the A group. We started with a nearly 4000ft climb. The pace was quite brisk at times. I tend not to hold up well in multi-day events if I go too hard, as I'm a fast twitchy kind of guy. I went along with it anyway. Once we got above treeline, the scenery was quite spectacular, like something you'd see Glacier National Park.

In my years of riding with DaveP, I still haven't learned my lesson. I'd stop to take pictures, then hammer to catch back up. This burns matches the rest of the guys are not burning. I did cool it after a while and just hung back. I took nearly 100 photos on today's ride.

Many of the guys in the A group are very good descenders. After witnessing bad wrecks first hand over the last few years, I've lost my nerve to carry 45deg angle lean-over speed around hairpin switchbacks. I drifted off the back of most of the group on the descents. Later in the ride, somebody did go down around a switchback. Only minor road rash resulted.

Many of these roads are little more than one lane wide. The Italians do know how to mingle with cyclists. You have to be comfortable with cars coming crazy close. They aren't being dicks about it, there just isn't more room. Plus, you often have long lines of cyclists passing in opposite directions with cars coming in between.  It's guardrails to handbars to car to handlebars to rock face. I got comfortable with it after a while. Perhaps because it is a nice weekend, there were a lot of people out.

Just like on App Gap on our 6-gaps rides, there are motorcyclists with a penchant for speed out here. Actually, motorcycles probably outnumber cars 4:1 on some of these roads. We'd overtake cars on descents, but not motorcycles.

I finished the nearly 70mi ride in just under 5hrs with 9400ft of climbing. Waiting for dinner, I'm completely wrecked. My legs were cramping taking my shoes off.  Monday will be an interesting day, as we go longer and with much more climbing. I'll leave you with a brief photo dump.

Looking down Passo Gardena towards Corvra, our
lunch stop.

On way to Passo Sella (I think)

Passo Valparola

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