Friday, 3 September 2010
Transalp '10 - Day 8 - 2 September 2010 - Val d'Algone to Torbole
Distance: 80-85 km (Total: 395-435 km)
Ascent: 1950 metres (Total: 13900 metres)
Descent: 3050 metres (Total: over 14000 metres)
Time: 9.5 hours (Total: 69 hours)
[Distances subject to checking when I get home, otherwise fairly accurate.]
A fitting last day. Markus's quote for the day: "If you haven't tackled the downhill from Tremalzo to Riva, you haven't lived."
In keeping with most other days the Esteemed Coordinator changed our planned route, this time to a more challenging day with a fine final descent.
After a brisk descent to Tione in the cool morning air we abandoned our detailed maps once again. "It should be an easy valley descent to Storo" remarked our leader, scrutinising my A4 sheet covering our entire route. My eyes told a different story, so the 350 metre ascent to a col were less of a surprise to me than to the rather miffed and optically challenged Coordinator.
The extra height gained did however result in quite a swift 20km, 400m descent to Storo, albeit on a rather unpleasant main road, aided for part of the way by the slipstream of three German Transalp cyclists.
The first 40km of the day had taken just two hours, and we were rewarded by coffee and croissants at a pleasant café in Storo, our breakfast at Albergo Brenta having been rather inadequate.
Now, the chosen route and our final significant climb, was the 1300 metre haul up to Tremalzo. Sue will recall this, as we drove up the road a few weeks ago, passing many cyclists on the way. It would be hard work, I knew that, so I bought some chocolate.
For the first 300 metres of ascent along the main road to Riva via Lago di Ledro, I kept falling behind Markus (as usual) but with a bit of grit between my teeth I always managed to haul him back, so we arrived together at the turn where a minor road leads up to Tremalzo.
Photos were taken. A stream of bike buses was dropping off cyclists here, or taking them all the way to the col, much to Markus's disgust. He is outraged by this behaviour, taking the view that they should cycle up from Riva. I think it seems like a nice afternoon out - starting from the top. After all, we don't plan to cycle back to Bludenz; or perhaps I am missing something.
"You go ahead" Markus surprised me. Perhaps he doesn't want his usual long wait at the top, I thought. "There will be a treat at 1000 metres and at 1500 metres" I promised, assuming Markus would be tailing me all the way.
I set off, going quite well for a change. In fact, rising at over 550 metres an hour compared with my previous best of 400 metres in an hour. 1000 metres came; no sign of Markus. I'll treat him by not making him wait, I thought, and continued up to the top, passing quite a few Transalpers on the way. None passed me. I am no longer the slowest Transalper. I was pleased. Markus was Not Impressed. Unbeknown to me he was suffering from a minor medical problem and had not requested the antidote that I carry. So he was sore, and had missed his treats, when he finally arrived at the top.
I bought him some lunch, and we were friends again. I think.
The lunch at Rif Garda was rather poor, so perhaps I owe him another treat.
Anyway, my superhuman effort to make it up at a reasonable pace meant that we had plenty of time to enjoy the long descent to Riva. This had been A Worry.
It's a stony uphill track to a short tunnel, then a superb (if stony - suspension is useful) undulating journey on a fairly busy track compared to most that we have been on, over Passo di Various along track 421 and then down path 422. We mistakenly took a steep footpath for part of the descent to Pregasina, rather than the accepted bike route, but it made for a bit extra excitement and we made it down intact.
The upper sections of this fine route are along sweeping stony tracks high on the vertiginous mountainside above Lago di Garda. Care is needed, as are frequent stops to admire the views to Monte Baldo and elsewhere - a little hazy today but not as bad as last time I was here.
Below Pregasina the bike track follows the course of the old road, gently descending along the edge of the abyss below which the green waters of Lago di Garda await the unwary. It's a superb descent to Riva, and a fitting conclusion to any Transalp trip.
Giant ice creams were our chosen celebratory fare, then we pootled along Lago di Garda's busy cycle tracks, narrowly avoiding several fatal incidents, to Torbole and the luxurious Hotel Villa Franca. Pizzas, beers, and tiramisu for Markus ("The Best Ever") concluded an excellent day and a fine trip through the Alps.
The image is the view towards Rocchetta Giochello that I have enjoyed from my bench in Riva whilst composing this entry.
Thanks to those who have commented, latterly to Louise and The Weekend Dude, and to Sue for the 'Pass Out' - it's a shame you weren't able to join us here in sunny Riva. I hope you've all enjoyed these entries from your armchairs. We've certainly had a great time in 'The Saddle'.
Next time: The Epilogue...
Next Posting - Epilogue
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