Photo: It was a bit slippery climbing the Cippo with so may pine needles on the road
Stage 14 Il Cippo, Saturday 26th Sep
“As the Po valley is so flat, don’t you think you should add a tough climb at the end?” said Jan in 2019 when I was planning the route between London and Fano. As if 2,300km including the alps wasn’t enough. She was right of course, it had to be hard, otherwise why would people sponsor me. So what better than Marco Pantani’s training hill, Il Cippo. It’s 6km long, rising 600m, so 10% the whole way. I’ve climbed it more than half a dozen times, but never after 2,100km of a Grand Tour.
The Cippo starts in Carpegna, which meant we had to climb 937m just to get to the start. We were an odd couple. Andy had the legs, I had the knowledge. I followed Andy’s wheel the whole way up, advising him on what was to come. A voice from behind.
In the early stages my legs started to talk to me. They never shouted like they did two days ago, but they were constantly reminding me that they were under pressure. As we approached the final third I started to feel quite weak. It wasn’t my legs but my upper body. It felt like those cartoons where the energy level of the character visibly drains from them. I could cope if the battery drained my upper body but if my legs ran out of juice I would be in trouble.
My arms started to give way at about turn 18 of 22. I found it harder and harder to control the bike and started to wander across the road. My legs were fine, steering was the problem. I could hear Andy calling out the turn numbers one by one. “Twenty one, just one more to go”. We were nearly there. The battery was running low but the legs delivered. Turn 22 came into view and I knew I’d be fine. A strange experience, the top half of my body slightly shaking with exhaustion but the bottom half absolutely fine.
This was the last big climb of the Giro. We looked across to the Apennines laid out before us. It was worth all that effort. What a view.
At the summit we stood for the mandatory selfie at the Pantani photograph. Thousands of cyclists have made this pilgrimage to climb the Cippo, now another name was added to the list. Congratulations Andy.
On the way down, we reversed positions. With my knowledge of the descent, leading the way was the best place to be. Safely back in Carpegna, we headed for lunch. Pasta of course.
Then it was downhill/flat all the way back to Centinarola for a beer or two to celebrate the Giro di Muscoli. Just like the Tour de France, only the ceremonial ride to the finish is left. I only need to ride 62km and climb 115m to deliver on my promise to ride 2,300km and climb 19,000m over 15 Stages.
Tomorrow will be a special day.
Stage Stats: 138km | 1,940m climbing | 4,613 calories
Giro Stats: 14 Stages | 2,238km | 18,885m climbing | 67,593 calories
£ donations (GiftAid please if you can): https://justgiving.com/fundraising/girodimuscoli
€ donations: https://www.girodimuscoli.com/actie/colin-fisher