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Day two: Bormio to Bolzano

June 26, 2015

So what did we get up to? We got up to breakfast, then got straight up to the southern ascent of the Passo dello Stelvio.

Often the Cima Coppi or highest point of the Giro d’Italia, when it’s even passable given it tends to snow up there even in mid-May, the Stelvio is awesome. Yes I know young people use the word awesome all the time these days without even thinking about what it means, but the Stelvio truly does inspire sensations of awe. 2756m above sea level, a 22.5k climb up the side we did, something like 100 vintage cars, 500 flash git modern cars and countless cyclists make their way up it every day. When it’s not blocked by snow of course.

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Though I was too tired to stop and take pictures, one lunatic was even doing a bit of it on a unicycle. Thankfully uphill.

Ed was first up, courtesy of all the training he’s not being doing. I made it up on a broken ankle, not that I should mention that.

The top of the Stelvio is an odd experience. After so much wilderness, you come across a hotel, bars and restaurants and shops. It’s basically a small village complete with trashy Europop blasting out of suspect speakers.

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Pic: Howie, taking pic

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Pic: tired cyclists guzzle and show off manliness.

So it was time to go down. Down about 28k, with 48 of the famous Trafoi hairpin bends along the way and many other unofficial ones. It was the very reason I’d decided to come on this trip despite snapping a bone and getting a hobbit foot a few weeks ago, and have avoided medics since: there are some things you have to do once in your life on a bike, and you’re a long time dead. For me, it was worth the pain. We went down in blazing sunshine, with largely smooth tarmac, down the side of a hairpin-laddered mountain, through forests, villages and alongside roaring mountain rivers, while peaks soared all around. Awesome.

Having seen so much of the world’s natural beauty and thrilled our every sense, we then had lunch next to the disabled parking bays in a nondescript supermarket car park about 20k down the valley. Tradition is everything.

Then a long but very warm (90 degrees farenheit mostly) and pleasant drag into Bolzano, to partake of a hearty meal and a few cold beers.

A beautiful day though, naturally, there were some minor indiscretions. And with a larger group, more ways to mark them. Safety sash to Ian ‘Steve’ Chalk for road and orchard misdemeanours. A duck, that squeaks, to JL for errant table manners. The pink horn of shame to Deptford for alleged rear brake riding up the Stelvio. And both the bell and the zebolon to Ben, for not carrying the latter up the hill.

Typo update: still in a neck brace in hospital, still awaiting action from his insurer, still maintaining his sense of humour. Get well soon, we need you back to keep order and ensure promptness.

Tomorrow: Bolzano to Cortina, via four minor lumps.

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