Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 23- Fidenza to Ostello della Cisa- 74km

We knew when we woke up this morning that we were in for a big day, but I don't think we realised just how big! With just as much climbing as the day we climbed Great Saint Bernard, over a longer distance, and with plenty of off-road riding, it ended up being a knee blaster!

After breakfast at our hotel we set off. Straight from the get go it was dirt tracks, and straight up! And that's pretty much how it stayed for the next 40 or so kilometres, joining sections together with some lovely back roads. Lots of super rocky, technical climbs, but with relatively fresh legs after a few easy flat days we were all gung-ho and didn't think twice about it. Some of the tracks were absolutely spectacular! The scenery has certainly changed! And we are now oohing and ahhing at every view that pops up as we crest the climbs. At one point I just had to shake my head, this can't possibly be real?! It is just too beautiful to comprehend.

Stretching is very important!
Loving the ride!


Dirt climbs are GO!





Grass is a bit harder


Yes there are a million photos of me climbing today



Quick breather at the top



Loved this bit!


Climb from hell


Yes Ben is very proud of himself that he RODE to the top. Me....1/3 of the way and I declared it stupid.



Our first break for the day was at Fornovo di Taro, about 40km into our day. A quick cafe doppio, a banana and some pan de latte we were back on the road. By this point I had started to feel a niggle in my knees and in my left hamstring. I commented to Ben that perhaps all the offroad climbing wasn't the best preparation for the climb ahead......we were not even at the steep section of the day yet. We had to get to the Cisa pass for our stop for the night! Nothing to do but keep on going! And so it started getting even steeper as we took the backroads which instead of going around all the hills went directly UP, over and then DOWN. One of the downs was probably the steepest road I've ever ridden down. Even Ben said at the bottom that there was no way he could have stopped if he had wanted to. It's a weird feeling descending with panniers when you pull on your brake levers....hang on....I'm not stopping!!!. By the time we stopped for picnic lunch infront of a little church my knees were on fire, and we still had about 30km of climbing to go!

Just amazing views all day





Pretty awesome


Of course he looks fresh ;)


Nothing sus. Super sandwich.

After lunch we headed onto the main road which climbs to the top of the Cisa pass. We had thought it would be busy which is why we had stuck to the trails and backroads (glad we did anyway because they were spectacular!), but there was hardly any traffic at all! Apparently a popular road with car and motorcycle enthusiasts, we were glad to have it to ourselves. Bike enthusiasts win!!!. The gradient of the road was much more appealing to my knees than the rest of the day, and so we settled into our own rhythms, with Ben stopping every now and then to wait for me, and me drifting off into another world in my head and just pounding out the kms. The climbing itself wasn't too bad, but the legs were crying out from the mornings efforts, and I was finding it VERY difficult to get comfortable on the saddle. The hardest thing about this climb is that it isn't just one climb, it's about three or four! You go up, then down, then up, then down and repeat. Although the descents were amazing (awesome corners where you could see ahead so just go for it) every time they came I knew it just meant another up!!

We thought we were going right to the top of the pass today, but we are actually about 5km shy of the top. Staying in the Ostello della Cisa which is a pilgrim hostel. No internet so all you blog followers will have had to wait a day for this report! Ben and I are sitting in the garden drinking Birra Moretti as our hosts also have a bar. We are the only guests this evening and dinner is included in our stay, so it should be interesting! At least we can purchase a pretty good bottle of red for €9 ;) we are suprised. We thought we might meet some walkers here as we have been passing quite a few of them in recent days. Tomorrow looks to be another big day with some big climbs, so I'd better get back to my beer and relaxing ;) Ciao!!!!

Keep on climbing



The views just kept getting better


Our dig for the night


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