Overview: 40 kilometres; 2:20 hrs duration; 1100m Vertical
Bonus ride: 20 kilometres; 1:45 hrs duration; 720m Vertical
Today we threw back the curtains and were greeted by wispy high clouds on a background of blue sky. All signs for a good day. The spirits were high at breakfast for a great day on Passo Gavia. We all tucked into our hearty breakfast on hand and gave the coffee machine a good work out. Our rollout would be delayed as Chris had a shoe blowout (nearly) and we were trying to source him a new pair.
Chris went to a couple of local bike shops, while the others prepared for tackling the climb of the day. Passo Gavia is a solid HC climb. At 26km long from Bormio, averaging 5%, it’s a tough climb. Don’t let the gradient fool you. This is a tough climb. We were advised by our local contacts that the climb was impassable, but we ride up and see how far we get. Everyone was up for the challenge.
Chris returned without shoes (none in his size), so we had some calls made to pop some aside at another shop across town while we rolled out for the day.
The Gavia is really a climb in two distinct parts. Climbing straight out of town, it meanders up the valley through small towns, some with pave, until we get to the town of Saint Caterina. In each town, the day’s activities were well under way, and they didn’t raise an eyebrow to our contingent as we rolled through town. A series of ramps and false flats is the main theme of the first 11km, before we all regrouped at Saint Caterina.
Here the terrain really changes. We rolled out and just above town we entered the tree line. This becomes complete wilderness, with snow and ice already by the road side. The strong legs had taken off up the road, but knew they would only get so far. The higher we climbed, the greater the snow height and in no time it was over a metre high by the road. The road was seriously affected by the snow in areas, with massive cracks and broken up bitumen.
The next 5kms, the laughing increased as much as the snow levels as the boys were telling a few tales. We reached the gate which was closed, but it didn’t stop us from leaping over and continuing on. The road bites a little more here, but it wouldn’t be long before we reached the heavy vehicles, that were there to clear the road. We knew it would not be long before we would be stopped by the snow. Sure enough 300m up the road – the road became no more.
Some quick photos and a descent back into Saint Caterina commenced. Now some of these guys experienced their first real descent in the snow, and found it pretty chilly. We regrouped in Saint Caterina, before what I describe is a cracking descent back through the towns to Bormio. The Big Unit Chris led the way and quickly those in the front group were hitting in excess of 70kmh on a great sweeping, safe bit of road. The entire grouped passed through the small towns safely, regrouped in Bormio and headed for the centro piazza for some lunch.
Lunch and more importantly beverage choice was always going to be a pre-determiner for if people would do the bonus ride in the afternoon. Chris needed the bike shop for new shoes so he was automatically on a glass of vino. No climbing for him. Others followed suit and that left Leeten and Tim to tackle the Bormio 2000 (20km (out&back) 800m climbing) climb in the afternoon. Others went about their business, doing some shopping or just having a general rest. A small group went to the bike shop with Chris, while Guide David had a haircut by Francisco of Bormio.
Finally we regrouped to watch the finale of the Giro, won by little Caleb Ewan, before we wandered out for dinner. Most were looking a little weary as the night trudged on and it was Policeman Pat, who took home the coveted Cappello Rosa, for regaling us with his tales of manscaping and wearing mankini’s on the climb today.
Tomorrow is Stelvio. Its a big one and hopefully the snow is cleared enough for a good ride up.