Friday, 20 June 2008

Scott's Surprise.

Wednesday 11th June 2008.
Epic Camp, day 4

Morning run with Steven was an opportunity to check out the ski resort town of Cortina, with its steeply pitched timber construction, expensive shops and slightly eerie dormant ski facilities. A light rain was falling, which was to be a feature of our 3 day stay in this location. The views cross the valley were stunning.

We were using a pool in the nearby town of Brunico, a 30 mile downhill ride along the main road. Immediately after breakfast wee set off on our bikes, John N anxious to make it for our 9am booking lead a cracking pace-line, the tempo causing me to vomit the additional; helping of breakfast that I’d been unable to resist. A move certain to ensure a place right on the back of the pace-line! My average speed for that 30 mile ride was 21mph. I’ve achieved that once before – at Ironman Switzerland!

The pool complex was awesome, a stainless steel lined 8 lane 50m job, surrounded by sun terraces and lawns with smaller pools for kids. These Italians have got it sorted – they just need a degree or 2 extra in the water and it’d be perfect. As it was, I felt too cold to swim an hour without wetsuit and after a couple of lengths jumped out to wrench it on over wet limbs. Anthony was the only other guy to do so today – we’d have to remove them for the IM challenge though! I swam a set of 20 x 100s /1.45 (not a point scorer, but swimming off my usual training times as set by our swim coach back home, reckoning that the disadvantage of swimming long course is offset by the buoyancy of the wetsuit). The main feature of this swim though was the traditional 4x100IM race. I think that we all knew to expect this from having followed previous camps so had at least practiced a bit of other stroke swimming. For myself I knew that butterfly was just a question of keeping the arms high keeping moving, my breaststroke had been approved as ‘not bad’ though my backstroke had caused a lot of amusement. I was not in this one for any prizes! Heat 1 contained Gordo, Scott, Steven, John N and, the admirably ‘up for it’ Mike P, a donkey amongst these thoroughbreds in centre lane. It was an exciting race, with Steven holding the ‘pros’ throughout – the 4 of them finishing within 5 seconds. I think he finished 3rd and bumped to 2nd since G was wearing his skin suit. Mike battled on with his weaker strokes, whilst the rest of us knew that we’d soon be providing similar entertainment! I swam in heat 2, and was fortunate in that I was swimming with similarly stroke challenged campers and managed to make enough gains sin the first 300 ( I have no idea how) that a very hard 100 free ensured I wasn’t last to the line. I was glad that was over!

The ride back was ‘camper’s choice’ – this being set as an easy day. One of the choices on offer was Scott’s’ surprise – an additional climb up Tre Cime di Lavarredo. This is one o the steepest ascents and was conveniently accesses via just 1 or 2 ‘smaller’ passes off the route back from Brunico to Cortina. Gordo lead Scott, John, Steven, Mike, Russell, Randy and I back along a scenic cycle route, a little off-road and certainly made me thankful that I had put the ‘Armadillo’ tyres on. A fun ride and great alternative to that main road. We met John Ellis and Douglas at the junction, had some food ( which I was really badly in need of at this point) The weather had turned a lot for the worse, Gordo advised against riding up a mountain into lightening and I think anyone would have been relieved to concede had it been clear that nobody wanted to go. As it was, despite feeling totally bombed, 4 of us could not resist the opportunity, and picked up waterproofs for our unsupported adventure into the mountains. I am so glad that I did so. As Scott and Mike rode on, Steven and I hung back for a more lousily approach, splitting as the incline kicked in, and each working at their own moderate pace. As lightening was immediately followed by thunder, cracking between the stark craggy mountain tops the storm was immediately over head. The road was deserted and running rain water like a river over the painted letters from past Giros, as we worked against the increasing gradient, clearing the tree line and exposing the most spectacular skyline. The notion that my tyres would insulate me in the case of a lightening strike kept me on the bike, and finally we reached a restaurant at the top of the pass. Well, it was almost the top – a further 100m of ascent took us to the car park – my ‘woop –woop’ rang out reverberating off the surrounding rock faces in a hugely satisfying echo. We were absolutely drenched and frozen and would have been n some serious trouble had it not been for the rest house at the top, which had a wood burner soup and coffee to warm us a little for the descent. We shoved a few newspapers down our jerseys to be a bit more pro cyclist, too.

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