On da Blockhaus 

Stage 9 – 150km


Damn it was hot as we rolled out at 9am, but with a light tailwind we enjoyed good progress hugging the beautiful Adriatic coastline.


At 25km in Bob the mechanic pulled us over and said we needed to wait for the vehicles to catch up. After we had all taken it in turns to quiz him why, 2 riders resplendent in team jerseys rolled down the hill it was Doug’s sons Alex and Cameron, followed by Wife Wendy and Alex’s girlfriend Lara in a hire car.


Apparently this plan had been hatched in secret back in Feb, the look on his (& our) faces was priceless! They rode some 30km or so chatting with their father and us.

A relatively short stage in comparison to what has gone before, but this one has some real venom in the final 25km, 1675m doesn’t sound high, but when you climb from sea level and have two starters before a big main course then your gonna get a serious case of indigestion.  

Making its name from a fortress built on its summit in 1860, Blockhaus is a tough climb in the Abruzzo region that has played a big part in shaping Giro history despite being used sparingly; 2017 will only be the seventh time the race has visited the climb, also known as Passo Lanciano, since it was first used 50 years ago.

And this difficult climb was the legendary Eddy Merckx’s first Grand Tour stage win.


I had the unwanted honour of suffering the first puncture of our Giro so far, and just as I was in my climbing rhythm as the road went upwards from Scarfa, it was far from Ideal, but Bob jumped to my aid as the others rode on setting their own tempos. 

Several minutes down I crested the bump, navigated the 2 km descent and started the climb proper. 13 km go up steadily on narrow road, with several hairpins. Gradients are over 9% for almost 10 km, with peaks reaching as high as 14%.

It was relentless with respite only coming with pitches of 8-9 % I struggled to get into a Tempo and it was only the last 5 or 6 km that I started to feel in the groove. 

No cars were allowed up as the climb as it was being protected for the race tomorrow so our support crew had to wait at the foot.

A quick photo at the summit and then the rapid descent down, in the absence of a jacket I used the old fashion paper technique to protect my chest as I stopped at a caravan that had been there overnight they kindly gave me the thick waxy paper from their pan rustic, not gore tex but as a chef you make the best you can and prepared for the descent. 

As if going up wasn’t challenging enough the descent really illustrated the steepness !

Stopped on the descent half way for a view – 


​It may not be as well known as alp d’huez, Tourmalet or Galibier, I’m no expert but I’ve ridden those and this was by far harder. We are yet to ride the Stelvio in the Dolomites so will have to give you that comparison in week 3 and we have to ascend that icon twice..!!

I’m not really a huge strava stats kind of guy, but it was rewarding when I reviewed the ride data this evening. 

100 miles left of a huge 175 mile transfer, thank goodness tomorrow is a test day for 3 reasons, catch up on washing, give my butt and legs a rest and more importantly try and find a café to watch the pros race erupt up the iconic climb we are all proud to say that we completed.

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

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~ by theboxterboy on May 13, 2017.

2 Responses to “On da Blockhaus ”

  1. Well done Hayden. Great stuff. Enjoy your day off – well earned.

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