Well, here we are, the final day in Italy on the DNWCT… How on earth were we going to top yesterday? After breaking out of my shell like a fucked off T Rex, how was I going to make today interesting or more epic? It was simple:
I had to go BIG
Not withstanding the fact my legs felt fried after 6 days of riding, I realised that I had to sit down last night and plan out a route for today that was not only fitting to the last day in Italy, but also paid tribute and respect to all the key aspects that made up this trip:
- To everyone older than me (mainly mum) it had to include historic stops and locations
- To the climbers (Clarso, Ango, Lizardo, Timmy and the NightHAWK) it had to include some serious Cols
- To the summer lovers (pretty much everyone reading this) it had to be warm
- To those that like to suffer (Mainly just Roberto) it would need to include some of that
- Generally it had to be epic
Right, not a tough brief then… Especially when you look at a map of the surroundings of Varese – If you really want to do a road training camp, then this is THE place to come. I won’t bother trying to build suspense, I am too rooted and you’re all too smart. Plus, if I out the route up front it will help you envisage it as I drone on about “OMG, the scenery is amazing” for the rest of the post. Here is how it rolled today:
Yes… When I mapped it out last night (there were endless options – Old me would have probably redone yesterdays ride to be honest), I suspected it would be tough, especially with this elevation chart:
The main motivation today was to hit the legendary Como and Bellagio locations, I couldn’t be in this part of the world and not see them after all. I didn’t know that Bellagio existed or was famous until Clarso pointed out it was where James Bond capped the bad mofo at the end of Casino Royale. Personally I am a Jason Bourne voter, but Bond is still ok.
Given I was staring down the loaded barrel of 140km’s+, I really did get up early! I knew the road to Como was going to be busier, so wanted to get a head start, not to mention the MF heat, which would be intense.
Getting to Como was about conserving energy on a fairly standard road… It was smooth and with good drivers, but really just a transitional stage, it was the City/Town of Como that we wanted! And after an hour, there it was!
And oh fuck, what a flop… Er… Hmmm… Well, shit roads, rammed with tourists (Rapha cycling models are not considered to be tourists) and generally looking a bit Ghetto, it was a bit confusing and I had to recheck the map as I didn’t see the the sign to turn off into the Bronx. It took a little while to work out (as I was dodging a super shit road, holes, broken concrete and weird cobbles) that there was a big difference between ‘Como’ and ‘Lake Como’. At least they had a giant statue:
I have no idea who he was, but I wasn’t keen to stick around and needed to escape the feralness of Como ASAP. As I climbed through Como heights it sorted of started to make sense as the houses started to get real flash (eh) and the view improved:
Right on cue, the road also improved dramatically and I was on track to Bellagio!
Tourist tip – Don’t stay in Como, perhaps pass through, but keep expectations minimal, suspect its where all the lazy mofos end up that don’t want to get out further, you can see them machining Gelato and trying to buy crap souvenirs for their kids to throw away after 5 minutes.
Riding to Bellagio was golden – Awesome undulating road, through a stream of villages, tunnels, incredible views and minimal traffic. Here’s a few examples of the good times rolling courtesy of the drone fish eye cam:
Not to be outdone the views of the lake were also pretty handy:
It was about this time that my stalker senses spotted George’s house (I am pretty sure), its that dot in the middle, hanging out by itself being awesome:
I called out, but suspect he was too busy smashing it WWE style to want to come for a spin and espresso, so time to push on to Bellagio. A short time later and it was Cappuccino time and a dirty croissant, I had an epic hunger today. Bellagio time:
And, just for good measure, some more MF lake:
Tourist tip – Bellagio kicks ass on Como and most other places around here, so make the effort to come and visit it if you are around these parts. I am not really into walking around looking at old shit, but if you are, then you’ll enjoy it here. There were also lots of kids running around screaming and demanding shit, so appeared to be family friendly. It had nice little streets and decent looking shops for epic consuming, so a good stop if you aren’t rad enough to come to Italy with a high performance road bike.
Speaking of which, this one was stunningly awesome today (and all week) and if you are in the market for a new bike, buy an Evo or face wretched disappointment and self esteem issues:
This is how it rolls in the heart of Bellagio (I keep wanting to say ‘The’ Bellagio, fucking Oceans 11):
It was time to move on and hit the first REAL climb of the day… Right when the temp was starting to hit about 34 degs, so I was on for a roasting. Randomly on the way out of town I spotted this cool building, so randomly, here it is, flash:
So, into the climb with my croissant repeating on me wickedly and it was massively hot. I then started to see sections of 13 and 14%, OMFG, I had done my homework, but somehow missed that the ‘Warm up’ climb was actually 10km’s long at an avg of 5.2%, which is a misnomer as it actually had a little downhill 3/4 of the way up. As such, it was harder than I expected and I was baked to the max, even into jamming Gels down my throat. At Civenna I was compelled to stop and check this view out (Strava segment be damned):
Now, after topping out at the summit of this climb, I had the option to head straight and pussy out via Elba, but I could imagine the look on Clarso’s face looking at my Strava file, so I had to do it… Turn right and hit a real climb. I was strangely flogged after the last week and ride so far today, but I managed to get into a climbing mode and away I went, again. Besides, it was time to ride like there was no tomorrow, as, well, there wasn’t in Italy at least.
I am not sure the name of this climb, Strava calls it: COLMA DA NESSO DOPO FERMATA! Righto then… I had expected it to be the biggest of the day and it was, but the first climb had taken my by surprise. At 9.3km’s @ 6.6% gradient this climb was right in the sweet spot for both length and steepness, adding to this, it was beautiful, a smooth road and deserted!
Getting into a nice rhythm I cruised up it enjoying my final major Italian climb. As I was about to crack near the top (it was now 36 degs and no wind, plus I was running out of water), I saw the sweetness of the summit and a COKE sign, it was time to fuel for home. Here it is gang, the FINAL Italian summit view shot:
The descent down to Nesso on the other side was awesome and made me realise it would be a more epic climb the other way, but my legs were telling me as we hit the 100km mark in the ride that today had already been epic enough…
From Nesso I was retracing my steps back to Varese… Now I was on the other side of the road I got to perv at some of the amazing houses below, there are some epic pads here and I could feel my status anxiety peaking out, so I put my head down assured myself these houses had all been handed down from generation to generation and focused on getting home out of the heat.
I won’t lie, getting home was a fucker. First I had to negotiate the feral and manky Como, then I had a rather busy SS342 road to contend with, not to mention 39 deg heat and a stomach that had hit its limit of shit energy bars/gels but still wanted food. Still, my legs were strangely good and I was riding my bike in Italy for the last time, so I still enjoyed it.
I arrived back at Dirty Nomad Italian HQ after 143.3km’s in the saddle, 6 hours 8 mins, 2,271m climbed and 3300 calories massacred. Yes, smashed. But VERY happy, it was an amazing day of riding. If you want to recreate this adventure, here is the Strava file:
What was left to do? Oh yes, I had earned this (Disappointingly not called a Royale with Cheese here):
I am still dealing with the indigestion from inhaling this tray of evil goodness… Had to be done.
So, there we are… Its time to strip the bike, pack up some massively gross kit and reflect on the amazing Italian leg of the DNWCT, its been pretty big on a number of fronts and a huge success. Extra thanks to Clarso for making it happen and dragging me up some epic Cols and to Varese for making it so Vareasy… Oh man, fuck that is a bad joke, appalling. It must be time to sign off.