Giro di Muscoli – Stage 12 Colline del Metauro, 140km

Photo: The Guerrieri vineyard. A place that Gerben and Jeanne are very familiar with

Stage 12 Colline del Metauro, Thursday 23rd Sep

Today’s stage was all about climbing. I’ve been tracking my progress on a spreadsheet. Distance is fine but I was a little behind on the climbing, so I came up with a route that was up and down all day but never more than 30km from home. I’ve committed to riding 2,300km and 19,000m of climbing. Unlike the current British government I believe that once you have made an agreement, you have to honour it.

I needed to get in more than 2,300m of climbing today, or about four laps of Holland! It would make it the biggest climbing day of the Giro.

After the first climbs to Beato Sante and Novilara I thought I was imagining things. An arch. Not quite the finishing arch of a cycling race. I’m not sure this would be legal in the UK. A concrete lorry on one side of the road pumping concrete above the road and into the house. No hard hats, no warning signs, no closed road, just a few cones.

As I am so familiar with the roads I allowed my self some deviations from the pre-published route. Mimicking the SatNav system we have, my head was saying “Route is being re-calculated due to Giro conditions”. One such deviation was to the beach in Fano just to show that my climbs from now on started at sea level. Another place that Gerben and Jeanne are very familiar with.

The next climb was up onto the ridge from San Costanzo to Sant’Ippolito. I chose this so that I could complete that section that Andy and I had to abandon on Monday. The porch we took shelter under and the road was a lot dryer this time around. In fact it was getting warnmer and warmer, making the climbing that much harder. At least on a ridge ride it’s up and down, up and down, or ‘mangia, beve, mangia beve’ as Italian cyclists say. ‘Eat, drink, eat, drink’.

The next challenge was the climb to the Cappucine monastery above Fossombrone. At least the climb is tree lined so some protection from the heat. The good news is that the twinge in my left knee has stopped. The bad news is that it has transferred to my right knee. I think my body might be trying to tell me something.

There’s a stunning view of the Metauro valley from up there.

This is where I ate my packed lunch (one of Jan’s flapjacks) then headed back down the hill ready for the hardest climb of the day.

It’s only about 4km long but it was steep and now 30°. Unusual for a climb, the first part is open, then it goes into trees for some shade. As soon as one turns off the main road the climb starts. My thighs started to hurt. They got worse as I progressed slowly up through the hairpin bends. I really wanted to stop but I feared I would seize up and not be able to start again. My right knee joined in. I was having a hard time of it. Sweat pouring off me and my legs asking WTF was I doing? I really thought I might not get up this time, but grinding away I did get to the top, but it wasn’t pleasant.

I felt a bit sorry for myself at the top. I had to have a word with myself about why I’m doing the Giro di Muscoli. We’re trying to help MND/ALS/SLA patients in the UK, Netherlands and Italy. Their situation is far worse than some pain on a climb.

At least I now had a fantastic view all the way to the Adriatic.

On the other side of the road the burnt out trees from the forest fire a couple of years ago.

After descending the Alce Nero I had one final “Route is being re-calculated” moment when I decided to climb the steepest way up to our house, just so that my thighs could remind me why we’re doing this.

Stage Stats: 140km | 2,313m climbing | 4,658 calories

Giro Stats: 12 Stages | 1,959km | 16,011m climbing | 58,999 calories

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