Today for our last ride, we did 52 kilometers from the hotel -- 26 up the Passo Gavia and 26 back down to Bormio. The weather was a bit cooler than it had been, but we still had blue sky and beautiful views. Below, my group gathered in front of our hotel.
On the way up, I turned to see Patti riding in front of this beautiful rainbow. Pretty fitting for our last day.
One of the many great views on the way up some switchbacks. Patti and I stopped here to take these pics, and I fumbled her camera...and broke it! Thankfully, her pics were saved since they were on the memory card, but boy did I feel bad. She won't let me buy her a new camera, but will be coming to Boulder to stay with me and do some riding...and she thinks that's payback!
Almost to the top now and above treeline, we saw this amazing glacier. Wow.
This monument was in front of the glacier. The plaque on it was in Italian so we couldn't read it, but it must be for something special. What a desolate and beautiful location.
A little further along, we rode by this lake; the water was a beautiful green and blue, and the crucifix was very moving.
Our last summit sign. Passo Gavia. Patti and I take the traditional picture.
There was a cafe here at the top, and we all regrouped inside in a small room with a fireplace -- much needed warmth. While the climb was long and hard, I think we all were feeling sad that it was our last climb of this amazing trip. Here, Christina (Brazil, Merck Serono/Switzerland) and Dick Tapply (USA) share a warm hug.
Bill Hamilton (Boston, Tyler's dad) and Pat (Texas) soak up the warmth of the fire.
We then made a long, cold descent back to the hotel in Bormio. First on our list of "to-do's" back at the hotel was packing up our bikes. Here, 'lil Hudie and Pat show their bike grease-d hands after packing both of their bikes in one box for their return to Houston.
We now had a few hours before dinner, and while I could have done my blog entry, I felt a bit selfish, and decided to walk around Bormio with Pat, Karen, and Tammy. It was so relaxing and fun to walk the beautiful little streets of this ski village. We ate gelato (I had Limoncella flavored -- yum!), did some shopping in quaint little shops, passed other MS Global-ites along the streets, and even stopped in a little deli-type store to buy some snacks. After riding, it's typical to crave salty snacks, so we got some big bags of potato chips and they were amazingly delicious. And Tammy, my roommate, craved some pickles...yes, we all wondered, too, but she's not pregnant! Below are a few of the sites we saw along the way.
Finally, we came full circle back to the hotel in time for our last pre-dinner meeting. Karen, Tammy, and Pat pose by a little river that ran in front of the hotel.At our last pre-dinner meeting, the ride leaders crowned Tyler and Haven king and queen of MS Global 2007. This was the 5th year for MS Global, and it was the first time Tyler was able to stay the entire week and it was the first time Haven was able to come at all. It was great to have them here, and they helped us make great memories.
After the meeting, we had enough time to get a drink in the bar, and then headed into our last dinner together. Here, Michelle, me, and Karen enjoy yet another Stelvio beer. This is a fitting shot of a great new friend made at this year's MS Global, Michelle, and a great friend made at last year's MS Global, Pat. The friendships truly are one of the most precious parts of this experience.
At dinner, Tyler asked each of us to wear the crown and share a highlight of the week with everyone. Of course, the stories shared had us going back and forth between laughing hysterically and trying to hold back tears. The stories were moving and special, and though roughly 40 of us present told them, the time just flew. Of course, the hotel restaurant staff who were waiting to serve us dessert don't think it went by so fast....Here, Pat takes her turn in the crown.
After dinner, it might surprise you, but we all made our way to the bar, and relished in each other's company as long as we could. There was a piano player with a karaoke-type set-up, so Bill Hamilton and a few others took turns singing with him all night. Everyone had to shuttle out the next morning to Milan, some of us earlier than others. I was scheduled for the first shuttle at crack-of-dawnish 4:30, so I toyed with the idea of simply staying up all night. But, by 2:30, I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, so retired for all of an hour before getting up again to shower and get the shuttle. Some folks, though, chose to stay up all night, and one was Mark, a rookie from Boston. Here he is finally taking a snooze while he waits for the shuttle to leave in the morning...
And here's my final pic of MS Global 2007...the bartender (far right) was up all night, too, and had coffee and pastries available for us before we left. Here, a group hug with some of the folks who stayed in the bar all night and some of the folks who slept in order to catch the early shuttle: Jimmy D., Jack, a new Italian friend, Tammy, Bill Hamilton, and the bartender.
52 kilometers / 1400 meters elevation gain / 1 final pass
Can't believe it's over...I'll do one more post with some wrap-up thoughts and pics.