‘Karma was exchanged’

•May 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 21; 29.3km Milan


It was the last day and The Stage that the team only dared dream of since that tough start in Sardinia.

A journey which began back on Starwars day (May the fourth) and the force was with us all.

I’m typing the day after the pros have finished their own race in front of the imposing Doumo in Milano. 

As a family we are taking four days much needed holiday and we are on the train to Dervio a lesser known part of lake Como.

We have covered over 3601km and on some of the toughest roads Italy has to offer.

Epic Mountains and passes totalling over 162,000ft of ascent or 5.75 x up Everest if that’s easier to compute.

One puncture, me on the foothills of the fearsome Blochaus, one worn out rear tyre some of James’ speedway style descending, numerous incidents on the road, but way too many to put in 500 words.


Bickering over lunch stops, speed on the road, climbs, descents, flat bits, draggy bits, rough cobbled bits, through tunnels. However one fact was undeniably unanimous the 5 riders and 7 crew, we did alright, well more than alright, this was the centennial Giro after all.

We are just ordinary blokes, not Pros, our mission wasn’t Strava segments or top speeds it was riding to raise money to find a cure for blood cancer.

No matter what Mother Nature with the extremes of heat, snow & hail or the course planners had in store for us each morning, it pales into insignificance to what our skipper Geoff has been through, or what so many such as young Harrison our mascot back in Birmingham is living through currently.

Oh and back to the Pros, they found it challenging enough, trust me! 

Some great ‘Karma was exchanged’ back in Sardinia, I wished Tom Dumoulin the best of luck, and he to us… we survived the corsa Rosa, and he stood on the top spot.


This isn’t the finish this is merely the end of the first of three chapters, the French and Spanish ones still await.

I am currently crafting a for profit charity cookbook with Anthony from Face publications, food photos by Adrian Franklin and images from the tours by Digi Dave. Lots of work to do on that project and recipes and ideas inspired by the last few weeks are bubbling away.

I joked early on the tour that they threw the kitchen sink at this one… finally I’ve had the energy to look it up ‘Lavandino della cucina’ indeed.

If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

 

Grappling with the Grappa

•May 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 20; 190km; Pordenone – Asiago
If you thought today’s blog thread was about that fire water beverage Grappa that weighs in at up to 60% proof, then sorry, it’s still about the bike!

After 30km of busy roads through built up towns we turned on to The Strada del Prosecco, the 4th cat climb was a lung busting sprint (ok struggle up 19% slopes).

​The route unwound through a vast natural theatre in Veneto almost entirely decorated by vineyards, abbeys, churches and castles. The views were as stunning as the bubbles in a good chilled glass of this local fizz.


Some 95km in and we hit the foot slopes of the Monte Grappa a 24km climb which on paper at least was an average of 5.5% however what it was in truth was steep sections of 16 / 17% and lots of false flat and even two sections of descent. This was what reduced the average as it was a bitch of a climb, and a long one too.

We just have the time trial stage from Monza to Milan standing in our way.

I’m typing this in the back of a cramped van on our 258km transfer.


I’ve just had a text from Tracie, she and the girls have just landed in Bergamo, can’t wait to see them tomorrow it’s been 24 long days since our last hug…!

If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

‘Pain-Cavallo’

•May 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 19; 191km
San Candido – Piancavallo


Another long stage in the Dolomites which afforded some spectacular views of The ‘Tre Cime di Lavaredo’ (three peaks of Lavaredo)


Three distinctive battlement-like peaks in the Sexten Dolomites of northeastern Italy.  They are probably one of the best-known mountain groups in the Alps. 

Until 1919 the peaks formed part of the border between Italy and Austria. Now they lie on the border between the Italian provinces of South Tyrol and Belluno and still are a part of the linguistic boundary between German-speaking and Italian-speaking majorities. The Cima Grande has an elevation of 2,999 metres.


Most of the stage was against a stiff headwind, even going full gas down the descent I could only manage 70km an hour.

The finish was up the steep slopes of Piancavallo, a ski resort that was created in the 1960’s, the Giro has only finished here once before and that was in 1998 when Marco Pantani crossed the line first.


The opening 6.5km are viciously steep and average over 9% so pitches occasionally were up to 15% Half way up the gradient lessened to a more manageable 7.5% and after 65 minutes of purgatory I crossed the line.

I would be surprised if this climb doesn’t have an effect on the overall GC as it’s a real chance to put time into the Maglia Rosa.

We have one more big stage of 190km to go tomorrow with another two 1st cat climbs. Then we can dream of the finish in Milan

Here’s Geoff & Doug at the top of the finish climb, doing the ‘Hinault / LeMond’ thing…


If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

 

Another Queen stage !

•May 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 18;
139km Moena – Ortisei Ulrich


This centenary Giro has had more Queens than king Henry the 8th

The *Queen stage* across the Dolomites takes in 5 consecutive categorised climbs, with not even a single flat stretch in between.

Passo Pordoi, 

Passo Valparola,

Passo Gardena,

Passo Pinei

and the final climb of Pontives


The stage featured a remarkable rise and drop of a little less than 4,000m in just 137 km with average gradients of approx. 7% and topping out at 15%.


Queen stage- the stage of a multi-day road race which is deemed the hardest, most demanding and most prestigious stage of the race. 

It was a stunning route with the Pordoi offering awe inspiring views, to be honest it was arguably the most dramatic single days riding from a landscape perspective I think I have ever completed.


My legs felt surprisingly good and strong on the climbs, being looked after by Sarah & PJ with evening massages and the nutritional advice that I have had from Ted Munson and the team at SiS especially with protein management on and off the bike has really helped.


My breathing was hampered slightly through the start of a cold, however a couple of man up tablets and the splendour of the route pushed me on.

Many have asked me in the past what you think about when you climb for over 40km collectively with the majority of it solo, well I focus on the km ahead, ensure I keep fluids maintained but also if you are climbing for long durations you need to take on carbs.


But when it gets really tough, I count to 20 repeatedly in my head, seems to work, or has done to this point.

3191km done, 410km to go –

(2 mountain stages, and a 30km TT into Milan)

If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

 

Stage 17; another long one! 

•May 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 17; 219km Tirano – Canazei


With just 6hrs sleep and sore legs from yesterday’s monster, it was going to be another long day on the saddle.


Just 3km on the clock and we had to climb the 12km – Cat 2 mountain to the town of Aprica. 30km later we had another climb to deal with, 60km covered and we had climbed over 2000m,.

I caught up with Jon & Cindy who are riding with a Dutch team, we recognised each other as they also rode the 2015 tour, so seemed kind of appropriate to have a photo. 

We dropped down to the valley floor then had a beautiful albeit challenging 5km 3rd cat climb with steep pitches through the Grappa vineyards. 
If you don’t mind I’m gonna leave it there for today, it’s 11.30pm and we have another big day tomorrow, with a 5 climb monster waiting for us. 

We all know pictures speak louder than words, so here’s some of Digi Dave’s from today. 

And these were from yesterday’s Stelvio stage –

If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

That Stelvio is a real bully!

•May 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment


I’ve thankfully never been to war, however I have seen lots of Oscar winning movies and performances over the years.

Today’s breakfast taken at just before 6am was like we were going over the trenches, the two climbs on the menu were the legends Mortirolo and the Stelvio, oh and did I mention we climb the Stelvio – the 2nd highest paved road in Western Europe TWICE!


I’m not too proud to say but this stage has taken its toll on us all. The Mortirolo was stunning, I rode it with Geoff and Doug, taking some climbing shots of them both and images of the stunning landscape for the video blog.


The Stelvio (first time) lived up to its reputation, 48 numbered hairpin corners counting down to the top, 21km of climbing. The first half the skin glistened with sweat and began to burn as if on a spit as temperatures on the early slopes were 30°C. As we climbed higher the heat turned to a chilled headwind and at the top it was starting to get cold at only 3°C.


As we regrouped the clouds came in and we were caught in a snow shower as we descended down. I rode down without sunglasses and towards the bottom we were attacked by a biblical style swarm of tiny flies, a few got in the eye, and with the wind from the descent and a bit of rubbing my right contact lenses flew out!  Luckily I wear disposables as  once in the valley road it was warm and dry, I was able to replace it.

There was a steady gradient up to the foot of the Stelvio from the Swiss side, I was urged to use any energy I had left and push on to beat the twilight. I pushed on as if I was on a solo break in a road race, a double espresso gel helped numb the pain and focussed my thoughts for the final ascent.


It was tough, and my thoughts were of how this Stelvio climb is a real bully and like all the bullies I’ve come across in my life actions speak louder than words as I ground on and stuck to the task.

The chain I wear around my neck with the inscription ‘with love from your girls’ swung like a pendulum with every pedal stroke, I can’t wait to see them all and I count down the final few days to Milan.

This stage was always going to be tough, with five individuals and their different strengths. Mother Nature was a cruel mistress with the terrain and the light was failing at the top so with health and safety in mind we called the stage without the 20km fun freewheel down to the finish. Still 206km and 5414m of elevation (the most I’ve climbed on a single day) so I don’t think I feel cheated.

It’s 9.45pm we haven’t had dinner and are a long way from the hotel, another 200km stage tomorrow, this final weeks gonna hurt a lot…


If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

 

Bergamo 

•May 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 15 – 199km;  Valdengo  – Bergamo


It’s a rest day, so I guess I should be brief and give you all a rest as well as this tiny keyboard.
So, just a few thoughts on yesterday’s beautiful 2nd half of the stage that transitioned from Piedmont to Lombardy.


124 miles, for those of you who still talk old money, was certainly long enough that the wearing down process had well and truly kicked in before we took on the climb of San Salvatore with 30 miles to go.


 This climb features not just on this Giro route but a climb on the Il Lombardia, the last of the classic monuments held in October. It’s called the race of the falling leaves and a few miles into the climb it felt like autumn with grey skies and wet roads. It was a beautiful climb, however the descent was particularly challenging and technical especially in the wet.


The shorter 5km climb to Selvino (not to be confused with the giant Stelvio that is awaiting us tomorrow & to be tackled twice) was easier and afforded some stunning views of the descent we had just navigated and the village below.



We were naturally riding through a day before and there was already a festival atmosphere, actually this was omnipresent the further north of Italy we travelled; the excitement of the centenary Giro arriving was felt.


A rapid descent on dry roads then the finale up the steep slopes into the walled old town.


If you would like to support us by donating then here’s my page-

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia