One of the thousands of snow-capped peaks in the Dolomites.
How do I capture the sensations and emotions of riding in Italy in words and pictures?
It’s about as hard as riding up some of the big iconic Italian climbs I am about to endure this next few days. I have arrived at the Dolomites in Northern Italy and boy am I excited.
To an Aussie who has followed the Grand Tours over the past decade, to actually be in Italy for the 101st Giro d’Italia is truly a dream come true.
The passion and history of Italian cycling is legendary, and the Italian public is passionate and educated about ‘ciclismo’ (cycling).
Sappada our home for Stage 14-15 of the Giro d’Italia and a spectacular backdrop.
The Giro (according to Cadel Evans in his recent book) is the toughest race of the Grand Tours to win due to colder weather and the relentless climbs (plus negotiating the odd crazy fan along the way).
My first ride is a reconnaissance ride from Sappada to Ovaro to check out where the start of last climb up Mt Zoncolan as the conclusion of Stage 14 (more on this climb later), get the legs acclimatized to long slow climbs and get the rental Specialized bike tuned up for a few long days ahead.
Ovaro, where the pain will begin for all those who tackle Monte Zoncolan.
Note the short-lived smile;)
Learning the all-important local coffee drinking etiquette was also part of my experience. It seemed only espressos or the frequent macchiato were enjoyed while standing at the local café/bar is the accepted morning ritual it seems.
As I roll out I am immediately overwhelmed by the vast almost vertical landscapes.
Photographs just don’t do it justice as I ride below snow-capped mountains, rivers filled with green coloured snow melt, dark tunnels and old villages with narrow roads.
After a downhill roll to Ovaro, I faced with a long uphill ride home but broken up with a short pit-stop at Rigalato for a prosciutto Panini and the obligatory espresso.
I am Glad Day 1 is over but feeling very excited about tomorrow when I get to experience my first Giro stage finish.