The Jewish News is following the progress of Ben Miller, who is taking part in the Langdon International Cycle…
The Stelvio is well above the snowline, which partly explains the cold. It doesn’t fully melt until late July.
The way down:
I feel you should be aware of my tribulations writing the blog today. The email address for sending posts directly to the blog has mysteriously stopped working, the Tumblr app has also stopped allowing me to post (actually, it allows me to, then fails to put the post up), and their web interface does not like iPhone Swype, so crashed twice, taking my blog with it 🙁
Back to business. If you’ve not already read the post about conquering the Stelvio, go there first.
The top was reasonably cool, and by the time we started to descend at 4:30pm, it was very chilly. We all wore winter gear, but nevertheless 45 mins descending at 30-50kph leads to shivering and numb hands (gripping the brakes constantly does not help). Nigel, the Langdon fundraising trustee and an excellent, and very stylish cyclist, led James (Langdon resident) down, with me behind.
This is the first view we got of the major part of the climb. You’ll have to squint to see the hairpins in the distance.
We made it!:
The Stelvio is a beast. It is the second highest pass in the Alps (a special mention in the blog for anyone who can tell me the highest). It reaches 2700m, and the air is noticeably thinner – breathing gets harder. Though that’s also true when you climb hills for a long time on a bike, so hard to know which had the greatest effect.
A lot of our riders made it over the top, some headed back down to encourage other riders over the final few km, and pretty much all of us ate chips. While the Stelvio is only marginally longer, with similar gradient, than last year’s climb up the tougher Ventoux ascent, it plays with your mind. The signs say 5km to go, the switchbacks are ticking off, but then you look up the mountain and see the staircase like Stelvio towering above you – see photo. It was very hard work.