From where I type this, I’m surrounded by craggy, knife-edged cliffs and simply gigantic grassy hills some 2,100 meters above sea level. I can’t help but think that this does not look like Liege in late June.
We can all agree that nothings says “Tour de France” like bicycle riding around Belgium for three days and then migrating west to France. I’m therefore going to stay true to myself and hold out on my inaugural Tour de France by waiting until we stick exclusively to France – dabbling in other European countries obviously sullies the authentic Tour experience. (For those of you reading along and completely confused, this year’s Grand Bouche begins in Liege, Belgium before entering France for the rest of the three week race.)
That proclamation of holding out is of course is of course drenched in sarcasm. To be honest, I get sick to my stomach thinking that I won’t be there this year. To call the first half of my 2012 season successful is a gnarly understatement. My fitness is there, my motivation is sky high, and in the past not-quite-six-months I’ve been integrally involved with fifteen wins for Liquigas-Cannondale. Geeze, I don’t think I was involved with fifteen wins in all of 2011. I won’t stew on it any longer, however. I can’t thank you enough for the enormous show of support – especially over the past month – to have me lining up for my first Tour. The messages, the tweets, the emails, the calls, the very entertaining #KingfortheTour, and other signs of support mean a lot to me. More than you can imagine. It just makes me that much hungrier for that first Tour whenever that happens.
In order to clear my head, continue exploring the globe, while still staying true to my job and therefore training extensively I recently made my way from my home in Tuscany up to the Dolomites in north eastern Italy.
Surrounded by some of the biggest, awesomest mountains I’ve ever seen, I once again rejoined my BFF Timmy Duggan who is also up in this neck of the woods soaking up the same Dolomite excellence.
I raced the Giro di Italia in both 2009 and 2010. What’s tattooed in my mind more than anything is the Dolomites. My words here won’t do justice to just how spectacular they are, so I won’t even bother. Click on that panoramic photo above and you’ll get a sliver of our surroundings from high atop Timmy’s porch.
Jumping headlong into things, here’s my first ride. I’m only up here for a few days, so rather than lamely wasting time acclimatizing simply for my departure, I went for a bike ride.
My memory is sometimes sieve-like. So speaking of those 2009 and 2010 Giri d’Italia (the plural of Giro is Giri, not Giros), I apparently wanted to put the painful specifics out of my mind – that is to say, I raced up the very access road to my hotel, but I didn’t recognize it whatsoever until I bothered to check the Giro route map. Oops. Namely, Stage 5 to Alpe di Suisse. Here is that particular Strava segment, on which I conveniently now have the KOM. In your face, whoever actually won that stage!
Anyway, that first ride was long and arduous and stunning and calorific. So Timmy and I took a moment to rest our weary souls atop some random mountain pass, I think that’s Passo Valparola.
Obviously well fueled, that initial big day was then followed by another big day. Given my thorough one day of acclimatization, I felt like a million and a half bucks the next day. Here she is:
Clearly, another good’n’.
That’s all I got for now. Cycling is a sport of ups and downs, both literal and figurative. Sure, I’d like to be racing the Tour de France in two days, but that’s now out of my control. Putting in the time and effort to get up here to the Dolomites, seeing and training with my very good friend Timmy, and putting in the hours on the bike are a phenomenal alternative. I am lucky and I know it.
I said that’s all, but actually here’s one more panoramic picture for your viewing pleasure. Here I am high atop Passo Sella looking east towards, umm, well towards whatever is east of Passo Sella, which in this case appears to be even more mountains. Again, click on the image for an even better view.