This has been a fantastic week for cycling. I’ve been able to stay up every night and watch a stage of the Giro d’Italia then wake up and watch the Tour of California, whose stages seems to finish exactly five minutes after the absolute latest time I need to leave the house to get to work. It is frankly pretty rude of the Tour of California to reschedule itself to happen during the Giro but taking a lot of the top riders out of the Giro may well be the reason why the Giro has been so exciting this year as all the top teams have had to split their resources and send riders to both of these tours. I was going to boycott the Tour of California but it’s been quite close, the internet coverage has been very good and the scenery has been quite impressive. This year’s Giro has already had some amazing stages. Stage seven in the rain on unpaved roads was one of the most thrilling rides I’ve seen and since then, there’s rarely been a day without incident. The lead of the race has been turned on its head thanks to the weather and lack of vigilance from the leading teams and Cadel even managed to get into a girly slapping match on the bike. He’s been criticised for not throwing much of a punch but I’d like to know how many people there are out there who actually can throw a decent right hook and not come off their bike in the process.
Of course Floyd Landis has made up for not being able to ride by providing lots of scurrilous gossip and scandal for me to look up on the internet during the quiet moments between bicycle races. All in all, it’s been a great week to follow cycling.
I woke up on Saturday morning to the Tour of California racing up some sort of great big never-ending climb and with the Giro also about to get into its intense mountain stages, I decided I needed to spend the day climbing. I didn’t quite manage to match what the pros have been/will be up to. My day’s ride was 100km and included 1600m of climbing. ToC stage 6 was 217km and I think I read somewhere it was 4000m of climbing. Still, I went out and got myself a taste:
There was a bit of climbing to be done on the way there, but my first proper big climb of the day was a return to Tenguyama, which I visited last year. It was also the highest climb of the day. Tonight’s stage of the Giro finishes with a climb of Mount Zoncolan, which Pro Cycling magazine describes as the toughest road climb in Europe. Zoncolan averages 11.5 per cent for 10 kilometres. A toughest section of Tenguyama averaged 10.4 per cent for 800 metres (or so – I can’t get the measurements all that accurate with my software). It was near the top of the climb so I had already done a bit of work but as you can see below, I averaged 11.4kmh for that section. I was in my lowest gear (39×23) and was struggling to turn the pedals. That’s taste enough for me. I cannot wait to watch the climb tonight.
At the top, I received Tengu’s blessing for safety from road accidents, which I hope will protect me for another year, then headed off for my next climb.
The top of the next climb.
On the way home, I was going to climb Teineyama as well but the trouble is that every time I climb it now, I feel I have to try and beat my best time up there. I ascended about 60m of it before I realised my legs didn’t have it in them and what’s more, I had just punished them enough that if I kept going, they were going to rebel anyway, so I thought it prudent to head home and have a coffee instead.
Today was 100km but much easier because I was riding with Kazuko. We didn’t do much climbing but it was pretty windy instead. And now I’m ready for dinner, then I’m going to get a small amount of beer and try to make it last until the Zoncolan is conquered.