Wednesday, 21 August 2013

After the 10in10....What next?

It's been about nine weeks since we completed the Ten in Ten ride....
On my return from Italy I didn't ride my bike for a couple of weeks and then I did one 50 mile ride with some friends and since then I have not ridden any of my bikes at all....

The main reasons for this are that I wanted a complete break from the bike, plus I also find that I don't get as much pleasure riding my local roads during July and August as they seem to get pretty busy with all the holidaymakers that flood into the area........ one of the drawbacks of living at a tourist spot......

Mind you at the beginning of August I did start to use my static training bike again so that I can  maintain my fitness at a reasonable level for when I start getting out on my bikes riding the Purbecks in September.....

A few last little notes regarding the Ten in Ten for those of you who might be interested....

Three of us were using Continental Gatorskin tyres....In fact the ones that I used had well over 1500 miles on them before I even started the challenge. None of us had a puncture!! Considering some of the rough sections of road we travelled  (particularly in Belgium) I think that we did pretty well...

No major mechanicals were suffered either apart from a saddle height adjustment by Lorenzo.....
A dropped chain at the lower slopes of the Splugen pass for Jon...and JD suffered a bent derailleur hanger that happened when he had his accident.
A bike shop near our campsite in Italy sorted it for him in an hour so that he could give the Ghisallo climb a go.....
All in all an uneventful ride on the mechanical side....

So......What next?
Well to be honest I have nothing in the pipeline at the moment. 
I had planned on riding the Lon Las Cymru across Wales in September with Peter Calcutt from the Backpackers club, but unfortunately he has had to pull out due to work commitments...great pity, as it is the second time that the trip has had to be postponed.  

For now I  am looking for a cycle tour or challenge ride for next year and any suggestions will be considered...... 
In the meantime as a little bit of motivation I have my 10in10 photos to keep me going as well as the Ghisallo medallions which I picked up in Italy and I have shown below...... 

Medallion from the Museo del Ciclismo

Medallion of the Santuario Madonna del Ghisallo (Rear)

Medallion of the Santuario Madonna del Ghisallo (Front)

Monday, 12 August 2013

#10in10 Storia del Santuario del Ghisallo.

At the end of my last blog post I said that I would give you some background history of the Santuario del Ghisallo........

The sanctuary of Ghisallo is a little church at Magreglio, which is 754m above sea level on the Vallassina road, which goes from Milan to Bellagio via Erba between the two branches of Lake Como. This blessed Virgin Mary is the Patron Saint of Cyclists.

The little church has no written history but according to tradition the Virgin Mary venerated on  the steep hill which it is named after and is probably of the type that the villagers used to put by the roadside to protect the villages and their religous heritage.

The holy image was set up in the woods of this area which at the time were full of brigands, who used to seek refuge here and enjoy the right of asylum.

Around the XI century it is said that in the area of Magreglio some brigands threatened to kill a certain Count of Ghisallo while he was out hunting. He prayed to the Madonna he had come across on the spot and the Virgin saved him. This is the reason why the image of the Madonna got the name of "Ghisallo" and she was soon venerated under this title.

A little church was built around the original shrine, followed after a while in 1623, by the little sanctuary which is a popular spot for visitors. 

Due to the geographical position of the Sanctuary, it has become a landmark for cycling competitions including the Tour of Lombardy in October. So the little church has become the symbol of the spiritual elevations of this sport.

On 13th October 1949 Pope Pius X11 appointed the Madonna of Ghisallo Patron Saint of Italian Cyclists.
As a result that image was and still is venerated by international cycling as it's Patron Saint and the place has become the focus of many pilgrimages and races.

In the little church there are gifts and trophies from the cycling world which cyclists have presented as a mark of their devotion to their Patron Saint from 1948 until the present day.
The 'Monument to the Cyclist' and busts of famous cycling personalities adorn the adjacent area.

Next to the Sanctuary was built the 'Museum of Cycling Madonna of Ghisallo'.
On May 31st 2006 Pope Benedict XV1 blessed the final stone of the building in the vatican, thereby solemnising the completion of the museum. This stone can be seen in the central room of the museum building and bears the inscription 'Omnia Vincit Amor' (love conquers all).
I have included below a few of the photos I took of some of the exhibits................












Monday, 5 August 2013

#10in10 Destination Santuario Madonna del Ghisallo

We had planned that our ten countries in ten days challenge would have an extra ride added on once we had arrived on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.
The day after we set up camp at a campsite at Lake Como that is what we set out to do....
I had been dreaming of doing this ride for about five years so for me it was a special day.......
View from our campsite at Lake Como

We all set off  from our campsite on a really stunning day....Lorenzo led us out as we rode from our site along the shores of Lake Como... The road conditions were variable, being rough in places....but the views were to die for.

Riding through the lakeside tunnels was really quite scary as you couldn't see the road surface. Riding from very bright sunlight into very dark tunnels was not easy but we all managed to survive it and we eventually arrived at Varenna where the ferries plied their trade across the lake......
Boarding the Ferry.

On the Ferry on route to Bellagio.
We bought our tickets and queued up for the ferry that would take us across the lake and to the small town of Bellagio which is where our Ghisallo climb would start. 

There were a couple of touring cyclists in the queue who we got talking to because JD had noticed that they were using hub gears....
JD has had a bit of a thing going regarding hub gears for some time now....He recently bought another bike that has a Shimano Nexus 13 speed hub gear so he was keen to swap notes with the couple in the queue...
View from the ferry on route to Bellagio.
 The trip on the ferry took about half an hour and the views were simply stunning....
Dave had taken the motorhome around the lake and we had arranged to meet on the Ghisallo climb.
When we arrived at Bellagio Lorenzo checked with a policeman which way we needed to go and we then set off for the start of the climb....

It was very...very..hot!! 35c+.....but hey it was better than rain.
There seemed to be a lot of climbing before we even started on the climb proper, highlighted by a white line and the letters spelling out START painted across the road........

I set off just ahead of JD and Lorenzo..... Jon decided that due to the previous days efforts on the Splugen Pass he just didn't have it in his legs to even start on the Ghisallo and he chose to head back to the lakeside and a small bar......

The heat didn't make the climb easy.....but after waiting five years to do it there was no way that I wasn't going to get to the top..... My arrival at the summit and the small chapel was a pretty emotional experience...well worth the struggle..

JD and Lorenzo managed to get almost halfway up the climb.....I am sure that if it hadn't been so hot they would have made it all the way to the top. Make no mistake they did really well to get as far as they did.....

Dave met up with JD and Lorenzo and swept them up in the motorhome and brought them to the summit where I was now waiting..... Jon had decided that he would stay at the lakeside bar so that the chapel and the adjacent museum could be seen on a future trip...he felt he only wanted to visit them if he had managed to cycle at least part of the way up......

As I said arriving at the summit was quite an emotional experience as was our visit inside the chapel..... JD left a photo of Joanne Rutherford, who had sadly died of cancer in March this year, with some other photos that had also been left in the chapel by loved ones. 

Lots of cycling history can be found inside the chapel and a visit should be on the tick list for every cyclist........

Some shots taken inside the chapel can be seen below......
In my next post I will give you some of the history of the Santuario Madonna del Ghisallo as well as some shots taken inside the adjacent cycling museum....


The setting of the Ghisallo chapel

Chapel entrance

Chapel and cycling memorabilia








Monument depicting  a winning and a fallen rider.

Lot's of Changes Ahead ....

I thought that it was about time that I posted another entry on this blog, although to be honest most days have seemed a bit like Groundhog...