Italy, here I go.
Yesterday was a hard day climbing but any thoughts of a rest today disappeared when I saw the weather forecast.
Rain and possible thunder was forecast for tomorrow.
With two nearby climbs, it was the toss of coin decision.
Sestrieses or Col d’Izoard?
The 21Km 6/10 Sestrieses climb it is then.
Although it is only 8 miles away from my campsite, the climb begins in Italy, from the town of Oulx.
With no thoughts of starting before the sun came over the mountains, I set about tidying up the car in readiness for Tuesday’s camp move.
All done and feeling chuffed at my ingenuity, I set about entertaining my fellow campers with various yoga poses before burying my face in a bowl of porridge.
I did sense that once they saw the UK car registration, an explanation was obvious to them.
At midday I jumped into the car bound for Oulx (no idea how you pronounce it)
Sestrieses was the finish for a 1992 stage of the TdF to commemorate Fausto Coppi and, therefore, of great importance to Italy.
Claudio Chiappucci attacked the field with about 150 miles to go, took on five climbs and won the stage, much to the delight of thousands of Italians.
I was not expecting the same greeting, but I was expecting a good climb.
The cross-border road and the town of Oulx were busy, but I found a nearby cobble stone car park by the library.
All looked well, but to my horror I realised that the busy road I had just driven along was the one I had to climb back up. It did not impress me.
But it had to be done.
I changed, unfolded the Brompton, plastered on the SPF 50 and I was ready to go.
Houston, we have a problem
Where’s my helmet?
More in hope than expectation I searched the car, but soon remembered that I had taken it out of the car when I was tidying up.
The choice was simple either ride without a helmet or return t the campsite.
I thought for a moment.
Tempted as I was and the fact that my travel insurance would be void, it was a quick decision.
Back to France to pick up the helmet.
Italy, here we go (again)
To save queuing in the Oulx traffic, I parked halfway up the climb at the village of Cesana Torinese.
From there, I could ride down to start of the climb fro my segment ascent..
The start was a very easy gradient, and I soon made the halfway point where I had parked.
Once out of the village I turned left to the ski resort of Sestrieses itself.
It was now a real climb with an open landscape a gradient of 6-8% along the quiet road..
I was feeling good and making good headway.
With 5Km to go, I noticed someone had taped Sestrieses over. Odd?
Hesitatingly, I continued.
Ok, I have dealt with them before.
Two motorcyclists passed me by, which I thought was a good sign.
They returned shortly, waving an arm at me to signal it was closed. This was a bad sign.
Well, I am less than 5Km from the top and I am not giving up.
Up, over and around
I pressed on to be confronted by a large wire barrier.
Further up the road was a pile of dug up road, then a crane arm before finally I reached another fence.
This was like a platform computer game.
With a combination of squeezing, lifting, and even a bit of limbo, I was through and with Sestrieses now in my sights.
The summit was heaving.
Shops and hotels were all doing good business despite the roadworks.
It was now later in the day than I had planned, so it was a quick turn around and for more fun and games.
With the barriers known to me, I quickly circumvented them a second time and safely headed back to the car.
It occurred to me on the descent that if I had left this ride until a weekday, the additional obstacle of workers might have been a problem.
(I have in the past found road workers great for allowing a cyclist or walker to get round such problems)
Now to consider lardons, eggs, and beans for dinner.