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TransAlp Day 6

On paper, today looked to be mostly downhill (warning, PDF file).  What goes down, however, first has to climb up.  Climb is exactly what we did, to the tune of 2600m, to a maximum altitude of over 2000m on the day.  Although the amount of climbing is tough, it's also the altitude that takes its toll.  For example, the rainy climb of the Timmelsjoch on day 2, which took us to over 2500m, was excruciating.  The steepness, cold, rain, and absolute altitude made it a leg crusher.


Today was not that bad, and the fact that it was warm and sunny throughout made it racing in Italy at its best.  The first climb, right out of Falcade up the Passo Valles, was hard, but it was still cool enough that we just cruised.  It was easy to see a lot of the people who had been pushing it all week were already in the red.  That can't be a good feeling.  We have found, though, that we always seem to pace ourselves properly and seem to finish having given just the right amount at the right time.

The next climb, the Passo Rolle, was true to its name - we rolled right up its shallow slopes and took advantage of the feed station at the top.  The descent was an absolute treat!  Long, windy, smooth asphalt and completely closed roads made it possible for me to live out my Moto GP dreams, if only for 25kms.  Some people had some trouble, but we raced down without problems.  Maximum speed: 91.8kph.  Nice.

The bottom marked the beginning of the last major ascent of the week - the Passo Cereda.  It started a bit steep, but leveled off a bit before the summit and the tricky descent through what seemed like about 342 short tunnels.  It was dry and sunny, but in Italy all of the road tunnels seem to be filled with water.  Today, ours were also filled with cow pie residue.  I am not sure why the only covered part of our ride was the only wet part, but perhaps the folks at the Servizio Strade can answer that.  What it meant was that, on a lovely day, we entered the tunnels dry and emerged covered in wet cow crap.  The stains are on my shorts and, as those who know me are aware, that drives me nuts!

So, irritated by being covered in grub, I put it in Classics mode and was compelled to ride as hard as I could to the finish.  I was on a super day, and so was Christoph, so we set about making the pace for our group the entire way home.  60kph descents were followed by short climbs through scenic villages and we were often obligated to wait for the others in the group at the tops of the climbs.  We averaged 38kph in the last hilly 1.5 hours.  It felt fantastic!

Tomorrow is the last, mostly flat ride to the finish in Bibione on the Adriatic Sea.  Hopefully, we will keep it upright and come home safe and sound.

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