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It took me one year and about an hour and a half to get up the Stelvio Pass. A year previously, we had the intention of popping up after a week or so chasing the Giro. However, after arriving in Bormio we were told it was closed. Like good little boys, we didn't question it, and left. Fools. Too many years living in nanny state countries. The weather was perfect. Melting ice in fractured rocks and avalanche risk, causing the closure. On ice for the future. Back again in 2012, with the Giro to summit on Saturday for the end of the road race section, with only the time trial left on Sunday. We arrived in the midst of heavy set rain, interspersed with torrential rain, at 4pm. Too late to try. But of course I kitted up and rode up. I got well over half way before common sense took hold and saved from from the temperature that was dropping proportionally with the visibility and inversely with my dryness. Tomorrow. Again the Pass is closed. This time though, up we went. In blazing sunshine. Bike over the barrier, along with a few others. Riding 90 minutes of suffering and joy to the heavens. There is a peace about the mountain waiting for the climax of the Giro.

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The restaurant atop was closed. Surrounded by metres of snow on the roadside. Still, the owners ensconced in the chaos of off season cleaning were willing to serve a wine and coffee to the few making the summit. The Stelvio has many monikers. Mythical. Epic. Fearsome. Other great mountain climbs have similar names, but these passes in Italy seem to have something else. Perhaps it stems from the fact they are often covered in snow, deep into spring and sometimes summer. Perhaps it is the history. Before I left a cafe in Bormio, 82 year old Francesco laughed off my assertions that I would be going up piano piano. Coppi, Koblet and Bartali didn't do it thus. Implying that nor should I. I didn't. It is Stelvio after all.

Another 2 years passed. I was back again at Stelvio. Now with a cat at home with the same name. This time I was back after watching the Giro di Lombardia and being with Garmin Sharp as they won with Dan Martin. The race of the falling leaves. That means falling precipitation on Stelvio. And thus it was. Rain, sleet and snow. Barely 50m view at times. But man it was good to be back.


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