221.95 km, 4923m yesterday and 217.68 km, 4864m this day is fairly good I think. Especially as I could not use the big front ring this day – maybe I could have because at some point I changed gears to the big ring forgetting myself and it worked fine, but that was after the Gran Fondo and I was anyway afraid it would get loose again with the wire tense trying to pull the front derailleur out again.
All right, so off I went fairly late for getting in time to collect the start package for the Charly Gaul Gran Fondo. It was like 20 km to get there, but then I found the starting area somewhat quickly. Most people were already lined up for the start. I found a very lovely and helpful girl in the staff eventually and she was determined to help me get started, and she succeeded to get me the starting numbers. Never got any time taking unit, but could not really care this day and never thought about it. I got the numbers all attached like 5 minutes before the race started and off we went out of Trento from the main cobblestoned square.
The race also served as qualification for taking part in the world championship for Master cyclists, so there were a lot of really good cyclists of all ages here. It was sort of tragic comical with the start were I ambitiously followed the others out of town and as we got a bit outside the others sort of glided away in front of me as I could not really go much above 30 km/h. (Same thing happened in an amateur race at home once before I realized I was going on the low front ring, but then I could change it.)
It was not long though before the first climb came up to Passo Croce (616m) and here I was suddenly faster than most of the others (since the faster guys were already ahead of me). I stopped at once at the first feeding station at this minor pass and decided to stop at every feeding station along the way this day. Italians are of course faster than me downhill unless it is straight down on perfect asphalt in which case we all go the same speed pretty much.
Unfortunately I never took any photos along the race, and I surely had time for it and the weather was great, but very hot today again. Already at the start after a long flat ride back through Trento, it seemed like I had left most people ahead of me, but thought that as long as I kept a decent speed I would get back before the deadline anyway, so I just kept going.
There were some really good guys who had started after me apparently as a few passed me by in good speed up to Valico di Monte Bondone (Viotte/Viòte) (1566m) (the only true pass of the Monte Bondone) from Aldeno (200m). This climb was new to me and it is a climb in sections with some steeper places than the more famous climb directly up from Trento (that I have done before). There were a well-placed feeding station half-way up in Garniga (I think), so no worries about getting up here and I felt fine at the top and continued down the nice long straight sections on the other side to Lasino and Passo di San Udalrico (585m) where I luckily did not really need to use the pedals as I had feared out of bad memory of my previous descent there. There were however some confusion about the road to take from here and I had put the route down on my iPhone and I knew we should go over the Udalrico pass, but apparently a lot of other people had taken the wrong road (right depending on which variant you were supposed to ride) I later heard. Unclear marking of the routes!
We who had signed up to take the long route was indeed supposed to go around via the Lago di Cavedine and it is also a nice road that I somehow have missed to visit when in the area before (or after). On the way down to Ponte Oliveti (246m) I would have been helped by the big front ring again and started to feel a bit lonely on the road, but there were a few other cyclists taking the right road and also not being so fast.
We went on some strange detours, perhaps partly because the authorities for no reasons at all has disallowed cycling on the main road through the valley for some parts (but not all). We climbed up through Lon and down again on odd roads were we had to guess were to go as there were no signs down through Terlago (427m) and I joined two other guys on this section, one of whom thought he knew the road. (I see now that there would be a nice alternative road up to Lon coming from Sarche, but it is a private road for a short stretch.) Anyway we eventually came up on the correct road via Sopramonte, passing by a little pass called Passo Camponcino (811m) and then joining the main road from Trento with its endless series of twists and hairpins up to the finish line at the high point of the road over Monte Bondone – Valico di Monte Bondone (Vason) (1651m).
I was helplessly long after the good riders had long since finished the race, but there was no again quite a lot of cyclists on the road and I passed by everyone at good speed. At the finish I raced passed a guy I almost felt a bit bad for him as I probably kept about the same speed as the quickest guy that day on the finish line – just gave all I had and was probably at 30 km/h for the finish which was not so hard given I had taken it rather easy for a while earlier.
At the finish I was just in time to take part in the post-Gran Fondo dinner and never have I had that good a choice of post-race food! Look at the first photo and there is just exactly all I could possibly ask for except maybe a beer. So apart from bad markings along the route, this was a very good event in all aspects for me apart from my bicycle. I managed to leave my bag at the start and could collect it again up here and that was all I needed. Nothing in the start pack that I never got that I could have taken with me anyway. Talked a little with someone and the other guys I met before came up as I was on my way. Now I felt a bit like the air had gone out of me, but the day was still not over and even if being slow it was maybe 16:00 pm when I left Monte Bondone.
I stopped for some photos after the finish on the way back to the “real” pass at Viote and now the weather had turned more cloudy and not at all as sunny as it was during most of the race. Went down the same nice and fast descent in the same direction again but turned in the direction of Ponte Oliveti at Lasino that many took by mistake and took the photo above of the road leading over from there to Sarche – looks pretty nice.
At Sarche it was time to climb again and I felt very tired now and things went slowly. Took the main road even if there is an alternative cycling route here (for good and bad, but hate such alternative cycling routes on principle so avoided it, but this is mostly a nice alternative really). Then down to Ponte Arche where I decided to stop for an ice cream and coffee and almost fell asleep. The clock was like 18:00 and I pulled myself up and went on up the next pass. This was hard, but I just kept a low speed to make sure I got up there eventually. It was the Passo del Durone/Passo Duron (1010m) which is yet another pass that had escaped me before. I managed even though going very slowly to overtake another cycle tourist, but he had much more to luggage to carry than me. Then it was a very nice descent in the evening with some rays of sun again. The oncoming car down there was not happy about me having stopped at the wrong side and maybe I was slightly slow on moving over to the right side, but guess he was the one driving vary fast up. Anyway, no problem there and the descent went fine to Tione di Trento (534m).
I felt Tione was not such a good place staying at so decided to go just a bit up toward Sella di Bondo (820m) as I was still not sure if I wanted to go over there in the morning as originally planned or to go directly up toward Madonna di Campiglio to save time. I saw the Albergo Serena in Breguzzo and that looked good, so went in there and had a room with dinner and breakfast and it was a very good old-fashioned place at the right price. Just the place I was looking for (maybe a bit large, but good). Extremely non-touristic and hence great. (Great reviews I see also on Google.)