Friday, July 23, 2010

Race Report: Stage 7 TransALPs – Male to Madonna di Campiglio, Italy

Today was a moderately restful day, primarily because we didn’t have to move all our junk from one hotel to the next. We took the guys into Male and dropped them at the start line and then headed to the tourist office to inquire about river rafting! Tracey had never been white water rafting, and it had been years since I had been, so it seemed like a fun way to spend the morning. We paid our 36 Euros and off we went with a bus load of Italians suited up in wet suits and kayak helmets.

They took us up river to the put-in spot, which just happened to be about 200 feet away from a paved bike path that the TransALPs racers were riding on. It was a crazy coincidence that just as we were standing on the bank of the river with the other clients, Drew and David rode by! I ran up the bank and yelled at the top of my lungs “Go, Drew! Go, David!” but wasn’t sure if they heard me.

The river at first was really tame, and we were worried we had paid good money for a float on a lake.

We pulled off to the side and did a “swim test” where we jumped in the river, floated downstream with our feet pointing downstream, and then swam to the bank. Brr! We got back on and did some little waves that were pretty fun. When the guide pulled over and let the kids out of the boat and went over the paddling and weigh-shifting instructions again, we figured we were in for some real white water.

Down we went through the big waves; it was pretty exciting and we got pretty wet. The guide said the rapids were about a class 3+. Tracey had fun, even with her now-we-think-it-is-broken finger. I promise I’m not dragging her along on all these risky adventures; they’ve been her ideas!

After our rafting adventure, we loaded up some Cokes and sandwiches and headed up the hairpin curves in the truck to the finish town of Madonna di Campignio, a ritzy ski town. One of the reasons we are staying in Commezzadura for two nights is that Hotels in MdC were exorbitantly expensive. It had started to rain at the end of our rafting trip, and by this time and this altitude, it was almost pouring. We knew the guys would be muddy and cold, and when they rolled across the finish line in 4:50 with their white rain jackets on, we didn’t even recognize them.

Turns out they did hear me shouting down by the river as they rode by hours earlier, and they were very happy to see us there at the cold and rainy finish line.
David had the luck of the Irish today. At one spot where he stopped to rest for a second, he happened to look down and see a bolt fall out of his crank! Even luckier was that the nut was still on the back of the crank! Two other bolts were loose as well. If he had not seen the bolt fall out, and things had progressed to where he felt the crank loose, it would have been too late to repair with duct tape or zip ties, and no one carries spare bolts. He would have been pushing up the hills for about 4 km.

At the end of each day, there is still bike washing and maintenance to do, so after we got them some hot coffee and sent them to the bike wash and bike lock-down, Tracey and I sat inside a warm hotel for a cup of “tall coffee” as opposed to the tiny cups of espresso normally served here in Italy.

Back down the hill to relax for an evening watching the rain and catching up on email and blogging with a glass of wine before we cook chicken and pasta with pesto here at the apartment.

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