The day begins gently enough with a gradual climb up through the valley roads to our early morning coffee stop in the beautiful mountain town of Corvara. At one of the many cafés on offer in the centre of town we find our table and I stare up at an endless azure blue sky with a sense of calm and excitement. This is short-lived however and quickly replaced by a slight feeling of anxiety as I cast my gaze in the other direction and survey the slopes of my first adversary for the day, the Passo Campalongo. This is just the appetizer for our day, which will also include the giant of the area, the famous Passo Giau, a road that is as beautiful as it is brutal. Ten kilometres at an average gradient of ten percent, this is truly an iconic climb of world cycling… (and just as epic in the winter ~ Sella Ronda)
Some say they ride the mountains because “they are there,” others to test themselves. For me it’s all about the scenery, the blue hue to the light in the valleys and peaks, the vast skies, the views and the cycling experience that I just can’t find at home in the UK. It’s also about the enjoyment of finding my climbing form with three focussed months of training beforehand. These “huge dinosaurs” as I call the mountains, don’t allow you to arrive half-cooked. They demand that you put the effort in and all of that effort is richly rewarded on days like today. This is what Sella Ronda is all about.
Fuelled with caffeine, it’s time to ride. We head out of town. There’s no pre amble this time, it’s straight up onto the sinuous climb and it’s looping roads. As we ascend the scorching valley temperatures begin to cool, roughly by one degree centigrade with every 100 metres we climb.
We begin as a group but soon set our own pace. This sets the tone for the day. The climbs we all do alone, inside our heads, regrouping at each summit before hurtling down the other side (almost) always in control! Lunch will be at the top of the mighty Giau some kilometres up the road and will be welcomed with open arms by then, for sure.