Thursday, 29 May 2014

Fifteen feet of pure white snow

Where is Mona?
She's long gone
Where is Mary?
She's taken her along
But they haven't put their mittens on
And there's fifteen feet of pure white snow

We couldn't let it go unacknowledged on our blog that there's a bike race happening in Italy at the moment. Nor could we ignore the fact that on Tuesday, 160 riders in this bike race suffered through 139 excruciating kilometres in some of the toughest conditions the two of us have ever seen.

Three towering peaks to climb, each more than 2000m in altitude; narrow, winding descents on wet, crumbling roads; sub-zero temperatures; and snow - all that snow.

Photo by Cor Vos / CyclingTips

I waved to my neighbour
My neighbour waved to me
But my neighbour
Is my enemy
I kept waving my arms 
Till I could not see
Under fifteen feet of pure white snow

Others have written about the controversy surrounding the descent of the Stelvio, so we really don't need to. Instead, our interest lies in the experiences of the fans, the support crews and the riders themselves on a day they will all remember for a long time, albeit a day some may want to forget. 

Sitting comfortably on a warm sofa (or in Mark's case, tucked cosily into bed), we watched in awe at the images on our screens. Our stomachs tensed with the futile death-throes of riders out of the saddle, as the gradient notched up and the wheel in front edged away. We grimaced at the near misses on cliff-edge corners, with nothing but snow-drifts below. And we rejoiced in the momentous glory as the stage winner crossed the line to claim the Maglia Rosa.

It's a beautiful sport, and we are grateful for those who suffer through days like these, inspiring the rest of us to push that little bit harder and climb that little bit higher.

Is there anyone else here who doesn't know?
We're under fifteen feet of pure white snow
 - Fifteen feet of pure white snow by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The sun was back out for yesterday's stage, and the roads were flatter, but we still say chapeau to the riders, the fans and all those who make this sport great.

Keep pedalling.

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