Yesterday was stage 16 at the Giro d’Italia, yes they are still out racing around the Dolomites. It was the le Cima Coppi stage - that is the day that they cross the highest point in the race. At 2,800 meters, they were over 9,000 feet above sea level. The day consisted of three major climbs, the Gavia and the Stelvio being two of them. I had the pleasure of riding them a few years ago and while reading the race reports I had flashbacks to what it was like riding up such amazing mountains in late May. As it turns out they had similar conditions as we had – 30 degrees and snow. Two climbs each over ten miles long with 8+% grade and descents that could freeze even the toughest of competitors.
I was reminded that there are few sports that ask so much of a competitor. You have to ride on small tires on a light carbon bike with little clothing in freezing conditions at altitude and on extremely slick roads. And if you are not feeling “it” on this day and you decide to “bail” you are done for the rest of the Giro. You cannot go back out the next day. So, the boys of the Giro endure conditions that would be tough in a car let alone a road bike. The cold permeates you to the core, you have a tough time shifting, and braking and thinking is mostly out of the question. I can tell you that it takes a THPL perspective to stay the course and not succumb to the conditions or the prospect of warmth and comfort if you do decide to stop pedaling.
And from the riders we can take inspiration - they show what is possible if you stay focused on the end goal. We, each of us, can work through extreme hardship when you realize that the goal is part privilege and part reward. The process is how we find out what we are made of. We find out how deep can we reach into our soul and still find strength to endure when all signs push you to stop. I think it is no surprise that there were no quitters yesterday. And that is indeed what THPL is all about. Wow, for sure
Loving life, while riding up hill!