If this is the first page you have landed on then you are stepping into my TCR journey somewhere in the middle, check out what has come before:
- TCR Ride Report: Day -1
- TCR Ride Report: Day 1
- TCR Ride Report: Day 2
- TCR Ride Report: Day 3
- TCR Ride Report: Day 4
I slept awfully and not for very long. I didn’t feel safe and I couldn’t get comfortable. I think I tried to sleep for an hour or so before I gave up and got my kit together to carry on moving at a very early hour of the morning. I spun my way in the darkness the remaining 30km to Trento and then realised that I needed food and water because I had neither and I was about to head over a 1400m high alpine shoulder on my way to Bassano del Grappa and CP2. Trento seemed like a large city and using OsmAnd I navigated to a number of McDonalds and what looked like decent bets for late night shops but came up empty handed. I could find nothing for food or water, not even outside taps. I think it was about 0330 at this point and this had taken up an hour of the morning, precious time as I handn’t really slept and knew I wouldn’t make it through the whole day. I lay on a bench not sure what to do, thinking I might wait for a shop to open. I gave up on this fairly quickly given the time and seemingly sleepy nature of Trento.
Off I went climbing out of Trento persistently worrying about food and water. Water I solved not too long later when I found water coming down the cliff face at the side of the road. It was a calculated risk and I needed water, a gamble that paid off as I had no ill effects. Food would come later near the top of the climb but not after looping through every town/village on the way up looking for an opportunity. The sun had been above the horizon for a while when I rode by an elderly gentleman setting out his cafe in the front of his house establishment. I pulled up and he did not look impressed with me, nevertheless I insisted on taking an espresso off of his hands and some toast. I wanted more food but he refused, my Italian is not great but I think it was down to limited supplies as he was prepared for the village regulars without the addition of a ravenous cyclist.
I was far from sated but I had something in my stomach, I was hydrated and the coffee had done it’s job admirably. Onwards and upwards I went to be pleasantly surprised by a (cycle legal) tunnel that none of my routing software had seemed to know about that cut the last 400m off of the top of my expected climb. As far as I was concerned I was as good as being at CP2 even though I was 75km away. This was one of the reasons I had chosen this route, though it had a hefty extra climb in it this crux came early and was followed by long descent and then flat run straight to CP2. I had also figured the roads would be quieter, smaller and it wouldn’t be congested with TCR participants, I like riding on my own and encountering other racers tended to throw me off so my planning choices were serving me well.
Down I rolled and up the heat climbed, this was to be my first conscious encounter with the “Lucifer” heatwave" that was washing across this part of Europe. It was hot, very hot. It would eventually climb above 40 degrees Celsius for the bulk of the day. I don’t like heat, I struggle on a warm summers day in England that might just about reach 25 degrees Celsius. I was worried about what was going to happen but did the only thing I could do really which was lather on some suncream get my head down and make my way as fast as possible to the refuge of CP2. I stopped on the way for an espresso and a new inner tube as I had used my spare in Geraardsbergen and at the same time released my other spare was in fact a 650b tube for some reason. The gentleman in the bike shop was lovely and didn’t speak a word of english but we got by and he was very interested in the race. Obviously he thought we were all mad. The tubes in stock were Italian presta valved, I was in Italy after all, and I needed convincing my pump could inflate it as well as a demonstration on how to achieve it.
Rolling into Bassano Del Grappa I thought I was at CP2 and started looking forward to it, at the same time my Wahoo started sending me in circles but I didn’t pay it much mind because I thought I was there. After a few loops of the centre I looked at the map and saw I was actually 6km away. I had ridden hard to get here so this news was a little disheartening but what was there to do but just get there, so I did. Arriving at the camp ground at CP2 felt great, there were big smiles at the desk, cold water, a free bottle, even a shower! I had very low expectations so this was amazing, I took full advantage of the shower pretty quickly and necked a load of water. After which, I ascended to the roof patio and went to sleep for 2 hours. It was baking hot and I had arrived at midday, starting the climb of the second parcours up Monte Grappa in this heat at this time would do more harm than good.
When I woke I stumbled down to the ground again where there were quite a few riders milling around, many who had been there when I arrived. I got ready to go and look for food and a few others joined me. I had checked OsmAnd for a few places but we found that they were all shut until at least 1530 but mostly 1600. The others were happy waiting but I didn’t like the chances of getting much that I really wanted from these little places so made a different plan. The hotel next to the campground I had been told was shut after serving lunch, I wandered over anyway and managed to talk the woman inside who told me there was a big supermarket that was definitely open in the next town 2km away, she also slipped me a snack. I saddled up, with people wondering where I was going, and went to stock up. Supermarket was there and it was delightful, I loitered in the fridge aisles for quite a while.
Heading back I nearly missed the start of the parcours because I hadn’t considered that it started at CP2 and I was planning on heading straight for Monte Grappa. Luckily, I remembered and backtracked a bit. And now to Monte Grappa, it was 1600 now and whilst the sun wasn’t quite so high I wouldn’t say it had cooled off much. Nevertheless, up I went. I’ve not heard many people agree with me but I enjoyed it, I like climbing and know my climbing pace. I don’t fight my way up hills really, just keep spinning at a pace I can sustain. Slowly I reeled riders in passing 5 or 6 in total on my way to the top, 2 of these in the last 200 metres of the climb. I felt a little bad for doing that but I had been reeling them in for a long time. I stopped for a cheeky espresso halfway up very quickly. The views on the climb were gorgeous and I would definitely do it again.
At the top I took the obligatory photo with altitude sign and got myself a coke and stocked up on water at the restaurant. I was happy resting a bit longer than I did but it started to get dark and cloud was moving in very quickly, I really did not want to be descending off of here in the dark with low cloud. I said my goodbyes to the other riders and off I set, my route off the shoulder to the East of Monte Grappa incorporated another cheeky little climb I hadn’t been expecting and didn’t really enjoy. Reaching the switchbacks on the descent proper I ran into a problem, the palsy in my hands wasn’t allowing me to break sufficiently to slow down enough to get round the switchbacks safely. I also came across another rider who’s hydraulics were overheating and losing stopping power. We precariously descended trying to keep each other in sight in case something bad happened. I ended up utilising a very painful position with my body pushed forward almost over the front of the bars that gave me enough leverage to get more stopping power, it really hurt my back though (and this was years before I broke my back).
At the bottom myself and the other rider congratulated each other on being alive and went to a pizza place around the corner. It was a little bit of an upmarket joint so we made an interesting spectacle to the diners and staff alike but no one asked us to leave. It was good to have some company for a short while but after food we went our separate ways into the darkness. I was pretty tired after no real sleep the night before and only a couple of hours at CP2 so I immediately set about finding a bolt hole. I ended up sleeping under a corrugated metal porch thing down the back of a warehouse on an industrial estate, it didn’t look frequented and I wasn’t disturbed. It felt good and I thought I would sleep well there.
Carry on the adventure with me on Day 6.