Saturday, September 8, 2007

MS Global -- Stage 2

Couldn't get online last night, so going to start with a post on yesterday's ride (Friday, September 7)
Epic. A fitting word that I may overuse over the course of these MS Global blog entries.
Today...was EPIC.
If there was a theme, it was
"The Tour de France ain't got NOTHIN' on the Giro."
So, the day started bright and early at our hotel in Canazei.

Today, we turned right out of the hotel, and fairly quickly began climbing the first pass of the day, Passo San Pellegrino. I don't usually drink coffee, but drank some this morning, and when we first set out on the bike, though I'd eaten plenty of breakfast, I realized the caffeine may have been a bit much for me. Combined with the fact that I'm still struggling a bit with jet lag that's keeping me from sleeping too much at night, I felt pretty shakey when we took off. As we began to climb San Pellegrino, though, I felt better little by little, but wasn't able to stay with my group as well as the day I got dropped toward the bottom of the climb. It was a beautiful, gradual climb, though: lush green all around and a small river on the right, rushing down the mountain. No pics of the way up, but, of course, one at the top.
The other bike belongs to the good looking Italian who took the pic for me...oooh laa la! In a race, yes, getting dropped is bad, but on a ride like this, you may get to talk to a handsome Italian.

The top of Pellegrino looked like this -- and yes, this is THE San Pellegrino of bottled water fame.

I met back up with my group at the top where we filled water bottles, chatted, got some food, and then we made a long, fast, fun descent into a little village called Falcade. (Oh, and you've probably noticed that the weather was a bit warmer today...still cold on descents, but no snow flurries like yeserday!) Dropping into Falcade was so picturesque, as it was a tiny village with narrow streets that wound through old buildings. There was a lot of activity -- old women in print dresses walking grandchildren to town fountains, people with trekking poles on their way out to hike. Church bells ringing the hour. Beautiful. We paused for a group shot.

(l to r) Mike (CA), Michael (France), Jack (CO), me, Tyler (CO), Michelle (MA), Larry(MA), Tammy (CO)

We then continued descending, and came to a lake (don't know the name) at another village, and stopped for lunch. Nilas, one of our two soigneurs, decided to take a the second pic, he's holding up a big chunk of ice that was floating in the water. Brrrrrrrrr!

The climb up Passo San Pellegrino was long and fairly hard. Now, with lunch in our bellies, we began the second and last climb of the day, Passo Fedaia.

If I could do a drum roll here, I would. I've done some climbing -- in the Sierras in California, in Colorado, in France, Switzerland, and other parts of Italy.

This climb was the hardest climb I've ever done. Bar none. There are some really strong riders riding here at Global, and almost everyone shared this sentiment. I have a triple on my bike and I can't even remember the last time I had to go into the smallest ring -- I mainly keep it for security purposes. We climbed steadily for about 24 kilometers to reach the top of Fedaia, and about 5 kilometers from the top, just before a series of crazy switchbacks that bring you to the top, I had to pull over to get into the little ring. I wasn't going fast enough to feel safe doing it while riding, and my lower back felt like it was burning because straining to climb was so hard. There was a terrible headwind and I felt like I was spinning to no avail most of the time, but I just kept reminding myself that Lisa just had a baby in spite of having I could do this.

This is one of the views early on in the climb, looking back at where we'd come from.

I did the switchbacks near another rider from Colorado, Jack, and we made it to the top together. I was so moved when I made it to the top that when my friend Karen from Texas hugged me, I cried. She understood without me saying a word, and knew that I was thinking of Lisa.

Everyone met up in a cafe at the top of the climb, shared war stories and cappuccino or hot chocolate (which is THE best anywhere!), and then made ready for the long cold descent back to Canazei. The view on the way was AMAZING.

It was so good to get back to the hotel. This was a tough yet incredibly exhilerating and inspiring day. And the fun wasn't over yet. One of the great traditions of MS Global is to do a variety of presentations at dinner each night. Deirdre Moynihan, who was the director of THF until just recently, started this, and though she couldn't make it this year, she made arrangements to be sure that special things are done each night by assigning tasks to different Global alumni. Tonight, Pat Perry (Texas) and I were responsible for commemorating September birthdays. We put together a little dramatization, of sorts. I played "reporter" and let everyone know I was going to interview rookies new to Global as well as alumni about their exeriences thus far. I started with Michelle, the rookie from Boston who I've been riding with, and then went to Pat.

Pat talked about how much MS Global has meant to her, this being her second time, and that it feels like family...and families like to help each other celebrate important occasions...and we then crowned Patti Columbus and Karen "lil Hudie" Hudak birthday princesses, and ride leader Mark "Bunny" Schwab, the birthday KOM (King of the Mountain).

88 kilometers / 2130 meters elevation gain / 2 epic passes

Whew. Another day, another unforgettable bunch of experiences at the MS Global.


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