Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Giro d’Italia 2019 – Day 2

The bandwidth at the hotel is poor, at best. That made doing Tuesday's blog entry hard. For now, I just have some notes and pictures. I will add more when I can.

Our group riding through a town with Giro decorations
I woke up this morning after a decent night's sleep. My wet clothes from yesterday were mostly dried by spending time on the radiators in our room. (I'm sharing rooms with my friend Rick.) We had a good breakfast. Today's ride was only 43 miles, but over 5,000 feet of climbing. The majority of that on the climb of Mortirolo. 

Today's route started with a pleasant ride through alpine villages and a long descent. I was thankful for the disc brakes on the Trek Domane SL7 I was riding. 

Photo along the Giro route
The highlight of the day, was a climb up Mortirolo. We went the "classic" route which was a 7-mile climb with an average grade of 10%. I had trouble when the grade got much over 12% (it went as high as 18%) and had to walk a decent bit of the way. When my speed was under 3mph, I was walking. (Of course, I wasn't going much faster pedaling!)

After riding up Mortirolo, supposedly the second hardest climb in Europe, we gathered for lunch. I was one of the last to get to the top, but some folks did not even attempt it. So, I was a bit disappointed, but not too badly. After lunch, we went outside to wait for the Giro riders to come up the same climb we had just don't. It was a bit foggy and drizzling, like it had been on our ride, but not bad. Over the next 20 minutes, the clouds descended and the rains fell. By the time the riders arrived it was pouring. 

Obligatory selfie in the Alps
The rider in the lead on Mortirolo was Giulio Ciccone, a young rider with Trek Segafredo. We will get a chance to meet that team tomorrow. They should be in a good mood as he went on to win the raise and is leading as the best climber in the Giro. 

Some more photos

The crowds near the top of Mortirolo shortly before the
clouds and rain rolled in, followed by the Giro riders

First two riders climbing Mortirolo

Monday, May 27, 2019

Giro d’Italia 2019 – Day 1

Happy to be about to ride despite the weather
I woke up this morning in Milan and took a commuter train thirty miles to Bergamo. The Trek Travel folks met us at the train station and took us by bus to where our ride started for the day. 

The cyclists in the Giro are resting today. We, however, are starting our cycling journey. Today's ride is the easiest of the week at around 30 miles with 3,500 feet of climbing. Check out my ride data on Strava for more info. Trek Travel supplied the Garmin, so it was not set up the way I like it. It will be for tomorrow's ride. 

Some of the other riders listening to the day's directions
Before we started the ride, we had a good lunch. There were lots of delicious Italian carbs to prepare us for the ride. I fear this may be a trip where I gain weight despite all the exercise!

The day was fairly dreary and drizzly with temperature in the 50s. However, we were riding in Italy, so all was good. 

Unfortunately, the weather minimized the opportunities for taking photos along the ride. I included below only one that I managed to take. 

The weather cleared enough to get a picture of this church
This evening we start off with some social time to get to know the other riders and guides a bit, followed by dinner. The three guides are from the Czech Republic and Italy. A couple of the riders are from Australia, but most are from the United States. I met folks from Augusta, Georgia, a couple cities in Texas, and San Francisco, California. I'm sure I will meet them all, though who knows if I'll remember their names. It is a pretty diverse group. It will be interesting to get to know them both on and off the road over the coming days. 

We have to start riding at 7:30am, so I'm going to post this early. Tomorrow's ride will have a lot more climbing including Mortirolo and finishes in the town we are staying in, Ponte di Legno. The weather may not be any better, but I'm looking forward to the day/fearful of it!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Giro d’ Italia 2019 – Day 0

Sunrise as my plane descends to NYC's JFK airport
I’m just starting what should be an amazing week of cycling. I will be cycling in the mountains of north-eastern Italy on a Trek Travel trip. I’ll be riding with a group of 20 people during the last week of the Giro d’Italia, or Giro. The Giro is one of the three annual Grand Tours of professional cycling, the most famous of which is the Tour de France. Each is a 3-week long professional bike race covering over 2,000 miles. 

We will be riding some of the same mountains and roads as the professionals, though not at the same time! We will also be staying in the same towns and get to see some of the actual race. The Trek Travel folks take care of all of the logistics, including the bikes, and will be there to help if we have mechanical problems or just can't finish the day's riding. 

Milan's duomo, the third largest cathedral in Europe
I’ve long wanted to do a trip like this and a cycling buddy of mine, Rick, convinced me this was the year to do it. Or maybe, I begged him to let me come with him. I don't really remember. 

I’ve been trying to get ready for the ride for the last four months since I decided to go, but travel has made it hard to be as ready as I’d like. Still, I've been riding well. And, I got close to meeting my weight loss goal—after all, every two pounds less I weigh is 1% less work I need to do to climb a mountain! Regardless of whether I think I'm ready or not, the time has come and I'm excited to get started. 

The impressive interior of the duomo
The climbing on the route is somewhat intimidating. We may not be riding as far (or anywhere near as fast), but we will be riding on the same mountains and roads that cause the professionals' faces to look in agony during race coverage. Pretty much each of the six days is the sort of mountain ride that I normally would spend a couple months training for. We’ll see how I’m doing by the end!

The other intimidating thing is the weather forecast. I’m never sure what to believe when it comes to weather predictions, but they say to expect highs in the 50s and rain every day. There was some talk about one of the mountain passes on the race being closed due to snow. Oh boy!  

 arrived early this morning (Sunday) on a flight from JFK that left yesterday afternoon. I had to wake up before 4:00am yesterday to get to the Raleigh airport so I could fly to JFK and spend a 9-hour layover there. 

Rick photobombing my gelato picture
I checked into my hotel early and grabbed a couple hours sleep. Rick arrived later in the day. We walked around Milan and saw some of the sites in the old part of the city including the duomo (cathedral). 

We also enjoyed some good Italian food. Of course, that included some dulce de leche gelato. I promised to try and eat gelato every day I'm here. Hopefully, I will be up to that task! 

Tomorrow we'll take a train to Bergamo to meet the rest of the riders in our group and our tour guides, get properly fitted for our bikes, and ride about 30 miles (with about 4,000 feet of climb) to our hotel in Ponte di Legno. We are ready to ride! 

My goal is to post at the end of each day the output of my Garmin showing where I went (and how slowly), a few photos, and some highlights of the day. I expect to be pretty tired, so we'll see how that goes!