#5MaratonasChallenge Day 2 - 1988-89 Thunderstorms

The weather forecast for day 2 of the #5MaratonasChallenge was unsettled at best. Thunderstorms and lower temperatures threatened to make the 180 kilometres, with 6,000 metres of climbing, even more challenging.

Sat eating breakfast, and gazing up at the mountain peaks, the forecast seemed to have materialised. Rain hammered the windows, and darker clouds hovered over the mountains.

Given the weather, it seems worth recalling that in 1988 the final finisher was revived in a hot tub of water on the finish line. Then in 1989, it was so cold that the organisers finished the race on the Giau Pass. Don't underestimate the mountains…

The 1988-89 route of the Maratona dles Dolomites was similar to the 1987 route, but with the addition of the Giau Pass. To make things less repetitive today, after yesterday's 1987 route, I decided to do today's 1988-89 route, in reverse.



Valparola in the mist

The first climb of the day was yesterday's last: the Valparola Pass.

The rain has all but ceased by the time I clipped-in, but the hovering cloud made for a dramatic backdrop. Blue skies were a welcome sight at the top of the climb.





The Passo Giau goodness

Descending from the Valparola, the sun broke through the clouds. I began the ascent of the Passo Giau with jacket removed, and wondering if I should have put sun-cream on after all.

The Passo Giau epitomises a great mountain climb: starting as a singletrack road snaking through the pine forest, it then emerges into open pastures, with stunning views. The descent was equally breathtaking.





Staulanza and Duran

Having ridden both of these passes in the opposite direction the day before, I knew they were beautiful singletrack roads; rising up and over the mountains. They were just as good, if not better, in this contra direction.






Almost frozen on Fedaia

Dark clouds had loomed on the horizon as I crested the Duran Pass, and by the time I had completed the long descent to the foot of the Fedaia Pass, the heavens had opened.

The Fedaia climb is over 1,000 metres of elevation gain: beginning with a gradual rise through the valley to Caprile, before ramping up into an unrelenting 10 percent plus gradient for the final 9 kilometres.

I stopped for coffee in Caprile, to try and warm myself before the exposed final kilometres around the side of Mount Marmolada. The caffeine and sugar helped, but by the time I reached the summit it was 4 degrees Celsuis, and I was a frozen mess.

I descended as fast as I could, and called into another bar in Canazei, to try and recover some feeling in my hands.

Sorry, not many photos from this period: I struggled just to squeeze the brake levers, let alone operate a camera.




Finale climbs - Sellajoch and Gardena

Having warmed myself in Canazei, and with the rain cleared for the day, the final two climbs were a more pleasant affair.

With Passo Sella and Gardena completed, and with my elevation reading over 6,000 metres, I descended back to Badia.

I was so grateful for a warm shower, and the fantastic food at Ustaria Posta Hotel.







Ride Summary





Kit selection Day 2: Endura

Today's kit came from Scottish brand Endura. It is the first time I have worn apparel from the brand, but the Pro-SL range of bib shorts, jersey and FL-260 shell jacket proved to be superb.

The bib shorts were comfortable for the 9+ hours in the saddle. The jacket held off the weather and kept my torso dry and warm throughout. The fit and feel of the jersey are fantastic, and it has great sized pockets for endurance riding. Full review coming soon.



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