Arlberg Giro 2017

After two consecutive years of rain Leonie, Markus, and I firmly stated that we wouldn’t ride the Arlberg Giro in 2017. But then it got close to Arlberg Giro time and the temptation became too much especially as we were able to get some cheap tickets and the race is a good deal with a complimentary cycling jersey for all finishers (actually all starters).

So Leonie and I drove to Sankt Anton on Saturday morning planning to do a via ferrata route in the area but then I realised that I had forgotten my equipment so instead we spent the entire day lazing by the tent in Petteneu. Also good. We were even too lazy to watch the pro criterium.

The alarm went off at the happy hour of 4 am. We rolled out of bed and by 5:15 am we were riding up the valley to the start line. As we had registered late we had been placed in Block 4 and couldn’t change. We had originally thought we’d skip the race then as starting at the back of the field isn’t the best way to get a good time. We decided though that we could at least ride it as a training ride.

There was a 10 minute gap between each start block so I didn’t think we’d have a chance to catch Block 3. I was very wrong. I started at the front of our group and we followed the pace bike out of Sankt Anton onto the main road. I increased the pace and started passing the back of Block 3. I rode pretty hard up the pass and it wasn’t too long before I was passing people from Block 2. At around 10 minutes before the top I passed the first guy from Block 1. Hmm…

I rode through the short tunnel before the top of the pass and couldn’t believe it when I got out the otherside. Rain??! The Arlberg Giro weather strikes again. I pulled my jacket on while riding and started the wet descent. I was a bit cautious through the tunnels and on the corners not wanting to slide out. A pretty ok bunch formed and the descent continued. I managed to mess up a right hand bend into a bridge and had to break heavily causing my back wheel to bounce slightly. But all was ok and we continued.

The ride up the valley to the Bielerhoehe climb was ok. Not much to report. I usually don’t stop at the drink stations on this race. At least not before the pass but decided I needed a boost so got some cola. It helped a bit perhaps but I was feeling a bit light headed by the time I reached the top of the climb. The ascent had been a bit slow. In fact it was 5 minutes slower than last year.

I found a couple of strong riders on the descent and we motored until we caught up to a bunch. The bunch slowed us down and didn’t work well together but I was feeling like I needed a rest so didn’t do any towing.

The last ascent up the valley to Sankt Anton went well. I didn’t get dropped like some years. The organizers had added some nasty tricks though and we had perhaps anothe 75 m of extra climbing as we were rerouted off the main road twice through some small villages. Still I survived to the finish. I got a bit blocked by someone in front of me before the finish sprint and lost the first few guys but still had an ok sprint, hmmm, except for another guy who blocked me just before the line. Ok, maybe not such a good sprint.

I was pretty happy with my time. I finished in under 4 hours 56 minutes which was pretty good considering I started in block 4 and it rained on Arlberg Pass. I guess the rain really makes quite a different to the time. Maybe if it hadn’t rained on Arlberg Pass I would have been a few minutes faster. I was still about 10 minutes slower than 2013 and this year I was 5 minutes slower on the bielerhoehe climb than last year.  Maybe because Markus wasn’t chasing me 🙂 We had a little bit more climbing this year on the last ascent due to the diversion through the small villages. Hard to tell. I wasn’t too displeased anyway.

Leonie also had a good race and finished in 5 hours 38 minutes.

Swiss passes

Leonie and I headed to Zernez in Switzerland for the weekend.

On Saturday we rode Albula Pass then Flüela Pass going through Davos on the way.

On Sunday we headed across the border to Italy and rode Forcola di Livigno followed by the Bernina pass.

The weather was horribly cold on Saturday with just 6 degrees at the top of the Flüela pass. It was a little warmer on Sunday. The routes were quite nice but there was quite a lot of traffic.

Lagazuoi tunnels

Leonie and I headed off early again, this time to Passo Valparola a bit further on from Passo di Falzarego. We followed the technically easy Kaiserjaegersteig up to Rifugio Lagazuoi where we had a delicious hot chocolate and apple struedel to reward our efforts. Then we headed back down through a tunnel system that was built in the war. The tunnels were long and constructed right inside the mountain itself. Occasionally there were passageways leading to openings to the outside. From there there were views to the surrounding mountains and down to the Cinque Torri.

Cinque Torri Climbing II

We left early again for the 5 towers. The plan was to do a multipitch route that we had been eyeing up yesterday. On arriving we weren’t sure whether the last pitch would be too hard for Leonie so we went and checked out a funky tower instead.

I lead the first pitch and then belayed Leonie from the anchor. She bailed after not long and instead continued belaying me from the ground as I went in search of the next anchor. I figured that the two pitches wouldn’t be longer than 60 m together and if they were longer than 30 m I could abseil back down to the first anchor.

 It was pretty run out between bolts and I was not at all keen to fall but the route was very easy so it wasn’t a problem. I discovered the next anchor on a large rocky outcrop from the main tower. Leonie decided to try it again and made it up this time.

I set up the safety at the anchor so that we both had enough rope so we could walk around a bit. I then had a quick breakfast and started into the 3rd, errr 2nd pitch. The route headed off to the left and was sparsely bolted. I was again really not keen to fall. I managed it to the top and enjoyed the awesome view.

Leonie lowered me back to the anchor and I lowered her back to the ground before abseiling myself. It turned out the 60 m rope was long enough so that both strands reached the ground.

We celebrated with a cold drink at the nearby refugio before doing another climb and then heading back down to Cortina for some lazing.

Cinque Torri Climbing

Leonie and I got up at 6 am to avoid the crowds and drove up to the Refugio “Cinque Torri”. The weather gods were happy and the sun was shining. We ate breakfast at the car with the awesome rock towers of the 5 towers behind us.

We then headed slowly up to Averau. It’s a peak a bit higher up. There’s a short easy via ferrata at the beginning of the climb followed by an easy walk to the summit.

We headed back down via a Refugio for hot chocolate and cake and then it was time for some sport climbing. We found a bunch of easy routes around the 4 or 5 grade.

The towers are very impressive and the longer routes look very interesting. I eyed up a bolted 3 pitch route. There are also many longer trad routes. These I didn’t eye up.