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May 27 - Stage 17
Big day in the Giro today with the short but tough climb up Blockhaus. We had to depart our castle today. Angie said it was the best room she'd ever stayed in at a hotel. Seems like I remember reading it was built in the 1600's. Definitely had some remodeled parts for the hotel transformation, but way cool. We figured today would be our most difficult as far as getting to and up the climb where we wanted to be. We were a little over an hours drive from the climb, but we figured the road would be closed at some point. We drove an alternate route which bisected the route on the mountain about 5K from the top. As we guessed, the road was closed about 7K from there, so we loaded up the tandem and started the climb. The tandem is bad enough on the climb, but when you add the LiveStrong banners plus our food and water for the day, itís like having another person sitting back there thatís not helping peddle.
The climb was bad, but the view was incredible!
We rode the rest of the way up the climb and stopped about 4K from the finish line. It started out hot today, but by the time we got up the mountain it had gotten quite chilly. We set up the giant Hope Rides Again, LiveStrong billboard as well as our other signs. Lots of people, including Italian, French, German, Aussies and Americans, stop and take a picture or take turns taking their picture with the banner. Even some of the team cars and Giro officials cars have stopped to take pictures. Weíve passed out some wristbands and done our best to explain what the LAF is doing to fight cancer.
We didnít get any of the caravan cars today because they all stopped 5K from the top. Thereís an area we passed, that looked like they had spots saved for the team busses, which hadnít arrived yet when we rode by. Our dear friend Cathy Mehl has been fantastic about texting us updates on the mountain, otherwise itís hard to know whatís going on in the race.
Our tandem that we used to haul signs, banners, food, water and ourselves
Several people stopped to chat with us as they walked up the mountain. Dore, the guy that wears the huge antlers and runs with the riders stopped to talk. Several other Americans, a nice German fellow that we met a few days ago, Dan (thatís shooting stills for Nike) and our new group of Italian friends Ė a bunch of young guys that really like beer. We struggled a bit with dialog, but managed to communicate fairly well. One of them had spent a few months in New York with his cousin and between that and our bits and pieces of Italian, we got by and had a good time.
Dore was sporting the elk antlers today for Levi.
The riders arrived shortly after we heard the helicopter and Liz Kreutz, Lance/Astana photog stopped and shot Lance as he passed in front of the LiveStrong banner. We were soon packing up and about to ride down when Lance and Levi came back down and Lance yelled to us. On our way back to the car we passed the area where the busses had parked and spoke to our friend Jared with Astana. Lance and Levi came out of the bus after changing and Angie walked over and spoke to them. She asked Levi if any of his family was here. Weíve spent time with them and many bike races and they are all wonderful folks. Levi looked up and said, ďI forgot Robís birthday. It was yesterdayĒ. The guys jumped in the team car and sped off as we got on the tandem and cruised on down the mountain to our car.
Lance passes the LiveStrong banner
We had one of our longest transfers tonight, driving about 3.5 hours to Pompei. Finally got to the hotel about 11:00. Yeah, we finally have a hotel with wireless internet in the room that works!
Tomorrow should be fairly uneventful as far as the race and it may be for us as well.
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