Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Race Report: Stage 8 TransALPs - Madonna di Campiglio to Riva del Garda, Italy

Funny how my urgency to get a post up for each day of the race disappeared when we actually had time to kill and a few days of relaxing at the finish town ahead of us.  The race finished up on Saturday and now here it is Wednesday and we are headed back to the States.  I have a couple of days to catch up on.  Here is the post for the final stage.

The last day of the 2010 Bike TransALPs started off in a high end ski town in the Dolomite Range.  We had stayed down the mountain in Commezzadura at the apartment, so we checked out of the joint and piled our stuff in the truck to get the guys up to the start line - a 30 minute drive up a curvy road.  The guys were in good spirits as they stood in the sunshine to stay warm while their bikes waited patiently in the start chute.

Tracey and I decided to take off right away to go down the mountain to the finish line town.  On the drive from Madonna di Campiglio to Riva del Garda, we got awesome views of the Dolomite Mountain Range, a National Heritage Site for geomorphology!

But the continued driving the narrow and curvy roads. Here is a 2 minutes video you might like to watch to get an idea of what the driving was like.

And if that wasn’t enough, here is another longer video of the driving. (I am mostly putting these videos in here to remind me, next time I get the idea to drive through the Alps, to rent a very small car.)

We happened upon an oddly blue-green lake, that I think was natural, but had an otherworldly color.

After a “long coffee”, hot chocolate, apple strudel, and croissant we finished the drive to Riva del Garda, or Riva for short. Here I am along the road at an overlook of the town. We had dropped in elevation about 2000 feet, and now the slopes were terraced and farmed with olive trees and grape vines. Even in the middle of the day, the cicadas or some other loud insects were really loud in the groves of trees.

But finally, we had reached the end! We checked into the Hotel Mirage

and schlepped the loads of bags one last time up to our rooms.

Tracey and I had a couple of hours to kill, so she went about town to see about getting a manicure and I went for a short bike ride on the maze of paved bike paths through the valleys and city. Our plan was to meet back at the hotel at 2 PM in order to walk to the finish line to see the grand finale for David and Drew, who, according to the race handbook and their track record on the previous 7 stages, should have arrived between 2:45 and 3:45. After I got back to the hotel to shower, I noticed a message on my cell phone; it was from Tracey saying the guys were in and we had missed them! Argh! How overwhelmingly disappointing this was for both us and the guys! I was pretty upset at the race organizers for screwing up the projected times so badly, but what can you do but celebrate the fact that they were done.

We headed back to the hotel to relax a little before the final awards dinner party.

The Mirage was a pretty nice hotel located right on the edge of the lake.

After a refreshing shower and a pizza (they don’t cut the pizzas for you; just one big pie per person), we walked the 15 minutes back down to the finish line to get our 50 Euro deposit back for the timing chip, but they told us we needed our paper receipt they had given us 9 days ago. Good grief! Do they think we can just make a fake transponder chip or something? What a crooked way to get 50 Euros out of lots of racers that have already paid loads of money to enter. After the disappointment of missing the race, some useless paperwork at the hotel check in, a severe lack of singletrack to ride, I was getting fed up with Europe and Italy especially. We hoofed it back to the hotel to find our stupid piece of paper so we could at least get our deposit back. The walk back to the final dinner party, getting our food, and waiting around for awards took a long, long time. Finally, the awards party started, during which there were loads of announcements, special awards and sponsor recognitions. I didn’t mind clapping for the overall winners; they deserve it.

There were prizes for the oldest finisher (he is 67 years old) and for one guy who has completed all 13 TransALPs races.

Finally it was our guys turn.


Bike TransALPs is history.