Thursday, 6 August 2009

Day 7 - wibble...

Kaltern to Andalo.

About 5 minutes into the climb I realise that, not only have I forgotten to pack some ibuprofen but we didn't have any for breakfast. There's only one thing for it - blind panic. Our main food groups for the past week have been painkillers, rehydration salts and pizza (and, laterally, beer). The prospect of a day without the anaesthetizing effects of those little pink tablets brings me out in a cold sweat which only exacerbates the dehydrating effects of the hot sweat pishing off my brow in the 30 degree heat of the early morning.

Ten minutes into the climb I've become acutely aware of the callus on my left buttock. It's a bit like the Princess and the Pea, if it were re-written with the Princess riding a bike with half a pistachio shell stuck inside her shorts. Rounded side down. Man, this is going to hurt. The main climb of the day is a now-routine 1400m slog up a gravel road leading to more stunning singletrack, scary, sketchy gravel with cooking brakes and over-cooking corners. Miles and miles of this kind of stuff:

All good things must end and we're soon back in the crippling heat of the valley, riding up through apple orchards and seeking out the spray from the irrigation hoses. Further on we don't notice the village of "Toss" but we do spot "Lover". Great place names for the UK. The last few kms to the second feed station are just back-breakingly hard work. We keep running into pockets of super-heated still air, grinding endlessly uphill under the fierce, relentless sun. I'm dizzy by the time we get to the feed station and I feel an almost overwhelming desire to lie down in the shade and sleep. I just want it to stop, but we still have another 5kms climbing before the finish line. Luckily we have the shade of the trees so it's almost bearable. My arse hurts, my legs hurt, my hands hurt, my head is throbbing and I have to admit defeat on one of the steep concrete sections and get off and push. It's not far, but it's one of those sections where the gradient is too steep for a gravel road and they have to anchor the whole lot in place with concrete. Very hard to climb and terrifying in descent.

The climb is over soon enough and it's a mercifully easy run in down some nice dusty trails into Andalo. I have some stern words with some arse who tries to push into the queue in front of me. He sees the mad look in my eye and backs off, muttering.

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