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.

Five Passes in the Dolomites

Leonie and I set off for a road ride from our campsite at Cortina del Ampezzo. I was not particularly motivated by the cold gray weather but we headed up Passo Falzarego anyway. At the turn off to Passo Giau we ran into the Montana Dles Dolomitten race and cycled the next 40 km with many other cyclists. They had closed the roads for the race which was nice. No pesky motorbikes. From Passo Falzarego we had a short ascent to Passo di Valparola before a long descent.

With difficulty we managed to avoid crossing the finish line and navigated around the crowds to begin the ride up Passo Compolongo. On the descent the weather closed in and we had some nasty cold rain. It was localized though and as we continued down the valley we were back in sunshine.

We stopped for a pizza just after 5 pm and then decided to tack on another pass. It was a very nice sunny  We reached Passo Staulanza after a short ascent and briefly pondered what to do. How would our track look like on Strava? If we continued we’d have a nice loop but it would probably mean arriving after dark with a long ascent up a valley to finish. If we turned back we’d have a loop with two ugly pointy bits. What a dilemma.

We decided against asthetics and rode back towards the pizzeria and then we began our ascent to Passo Giau. It was getting late and we were getting a bit tired but we first had 29 switchbacks to contend with. We arrived at the pass at 8:30 pm and took a few photos in the last of the light before descending to our camp site in Cortina for a late dinner.

A weekend in Lech

I took the train into Austria on Friday afternoon to meet Leonie in Lech.

In Saturday we headed out for a ski tour despite the rubbish weather. We did the same tour as we had done last March with Wili, however this time we didn’t make it to the top of woerstlerhorn.

There was deep powder and nobody had been up before us so we had to make tracks in the snow. It was also very little visibility and at times we were in a complete whiteout.

Once reaching the saddle we decided to turn around as we couldn’t see a thing. As we were removing the skins from our skis magically it rapidly cleared and we descended in delicious sunshine.

It was so good that near the bottom we decided to put our skins back on and we headed back up a little until it threatened to cloud in again. We descended again and headed back down to Lech.

On Sunday I took the ortsbus to zug which was free, which I liked. Then I headed out and up to Zuger Horn. It was quite a nice ascent to begin with until I decided I needed to make my own track and then I flailed around on some steepish slopes trying to clamber over snowy bushes.

After freeing myself I continued up somebody’s decent track until I found myself on the summit. I also noticed another ascent track arriving from the other direction. Oops.

After visiting another on the way peak quickly I descended back into the valley and skated down the cross country skiing trail back to lech.