DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY – STRADA D’ASSIETA, ON INTO ITALY

Sestriere – Asti

Start 08:00am End 8:00pm – 12hrs ride time including breaks
183k ridden
1700m climbing

day 5

My USB charger went bang charging my helmet light overnight – I fused my hotel room – oops.

Up at 6ish, breakfast at 7, but the breakfast buffet was empty. They had opened it early, and the locusts had scavenged it before they left at 5… I got there at 7 for some warm orange juice and a crusty croissant. 2 bowls of coco pops and I was good to go
So. The Strade D’Assieta. 40k of Italian military road from the 1800s. The giro went up the bit I was going to descend. That was the nice bit.
It’s gravel. Well, dust, loose stones, and exposed bed rock. It’s a cracking route for a mountain bike. It’s a total pain in the arse on slick 28 tyres and a bike weighing 17kg Inc gear
I left the hotel, (meeting Jon and Simon again in breakfast, and then outside the hotel) and the strada started 100m away, with a nice 600m climb. Nothing like a gentle warmup. Granny gear time.  The knee was not happy
I got off once for a 5 yard walk and cleared the rest. Once the climb was done, the level stuff was great – all 10 yards of it.

Assietta
nice looking gravel

Then we descended again over the col, and going down was worse than going up. I didn’t want to ride it like on a mountain bike, but you have to keep a level of speed up

The gravel got worse – well the exposed bed rock got worse…..

assiata_road
normal gravel (image stolen again 🙂 )

I passed a pair of german dudes at the bottom who had left at 5am.  They had had 10 punctures between them.  They were not impressed when I said I had not had a single puncture.  I asked what tyres they were running – 25s they said.  I was on 28s pumped up a bit.  i left them 🙂

Assietta 2 Then up a surprise 400m tarmac climb up to the final col d finestre – the start / end of the giro bit.  I pushed on with the mantra -‘ no more climbing, no more climbing!’
Stopped at the top for some photies, and then started a nice gravel decent, then about 60 hairpins once the road finally went to tarmac. I think I took about 4:45 hrs to complete all if it including the final descent. By that time my hands were numb from constant breaking / battering.  My little fingers are still numb / pins and needles 2 months later due to the nerve compression / bruising of my palms

Phew!
The alps….. Done!

Once I finally finished the descent,( it took a while) it was time to head down the valley.  Weee. Super
smooth fast roads, (except when they dissolve into crap), I felt great so away I went.
Stopped for italian pizza (it was rubbish), then water (it was 32 degrees) several times.

Once I got out of the valley, I started to hate Italy. Crazy drivers, great roads that become a pot hole fest under your wheels, prostitutes lining the roads.. Hmm
Then I cut through a town, into the old town, and it was stunning. Nice medieval square with some live music going on (jean Michel jar crossed with the levellers) cobbled shaded streets and a ice cream shop with the best lemon sorbet I have ever tasted. I almost didn’t move.
Back on it… And the left knee suddenly got bad. Almost from no where. Wtf. I got a bit depressed.
Backed off, easy spin going nice and slowly and 30 mins later I pick it up again…. No idea what is going on, but it looks like I can look after it….
Then puncture no 1. No big deal but a cyclist and a car driver both stopped and offered assistance. Very nice.
However, that pushed me into calling it a day a bit early at 8pm and I grabbed a hotel in Asti,  This was a short day, but  I had Assietta to deal with and the alps in my legs.

My route had taken me a bit further south than most – I wanted to miss Turin.  I had reasonable roads, others reported lorry filled dual carriageways with no shoulder.  I was happy but a bit frustrated with my choice.  I think I added a few extra ks on.,

The hotel was a little surreal – an italian 80s business hotel with dayglow ragged painted walls, was full of depressed businessmen (dinner was a hoot) and Japanese tourists.  The steak was nice and the couple of beers really hit the spot though.  Made a resolution to get going earlier in the morning.

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