The last 24 hours have been an emotional rollercoaster. The climb from Zurich to Davos was the first real test for in the Alps. It made reaching 200 miles in a day unlikely and so it proved to be. In total I had, had about 10 hours sleep in the last 3 days. Two nights I spent sleeping amongst super market trolleys.
Half way up the final stretch from Zurich to Klosters and then Davos, I laid by the road and closed my eyes. Despite drivers insisting on tooting, I still managed to sleep for about 20 minutes and felt better for it.
The scenery up here is awesome and I will post photos at a later date, maybe, even today but more of that later. Darkness arrived as I topped the mountain pass into Davos and with it came the rain. Initialy light and presistent and then heavier and relentless. Others would still bivi, but with the onset of a cold, it was time for me to find an hotel.
The staff at the Victoria were gracious, but I declined to join the other dinners in the restaurant on the grounds of health and safety! I had not forgotten my manners, even if I had seemingly lost the soap.
I took a meal in my room and showered and then slept like the proverbial. I already had reservations about the conditions up the fluella pass and the Stelvio beyond. The combination of heavy rain, lowering temperatures and wind chill in the descent plus a fever that I had now been brewing for 24 hours, made me pensive. I have walked and climbed in the mountains for long enough to heed these concerns and so in the early morning I spoke to race control to say that I would not be taking the Stelvio on. Mike was brilliant and suggested that I travel beyond and to quote, "Don't let a bad race, spoil a good
It was massively disappointing. I was in the top 20 riders which amazed me, but safety had to come first and that is something that each person must decide for themselves. I salute those that took it on and succeeded.
From the hotel I took a train to Klosters and then toward Malles. I forget the station at which the train did not turn up, but it would appear that it was on the line where I was subsequently to discover that a landslide had derailed a train, leaving a number seriously injured, but thankfully no fatalities. (Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of those hurt.)
Instead of the train, I hitched a lift with a group of retired German cyclists, who like me had decided that the weather was not suitable or safe to ride in. Crammed into a minibus, they took me to Merano from where I bought a ticket to Trento. I subsequently got out at Bolzano, since having decided that to complete as much of this ride as possible, I wasn't going to cheat myself of any more miles than I had to.
In any case, as I was to discover, the road from Bolzano to Trento is a gentle downhill for about 30 miles and including the stop half way down for seafood tagliatelli, it flew by. Not so the climb out the other end.
Fortuitously, now that I was no longer bound by the race rules, my route was to take me past the front door of one of our friends who was staying with her family in Caldonazzo. To get there though, I first had to climb up out of Trento, a climb that Vaira said would 'finish her off.' No kidding!
The climb at night highlighted another problem that I was having though, with recharging my GPS and phone. With the lights on, any steep climb disconnected the power to the USB port in favour of the lights. (Good thing.) But the constant on/off destroyed the rechargeable batteries leaving my with no navigation going up hill and also now, no phone!
To cut a long story short, I eventually called Vaira by plugging the phone in and riding round and round a roundabout while she gave me directions to her house.
And to cut another long story short, my body gave out on me when I arrived, feeling suddenly nauseas and exhausted. I have never been so grateful to see a friendly face.
800 plus miles over the ground of which 700 or so miles cycled in 5 days. I was not going to make a decision about what next until after a good sleep.