This is where I probably need to confess what I believed occurred on the Stelvio with the end of the tour within my sight / grasp, cause as you will have all probably realised by now I didn't make it to the end......
Sure I made it to the top as the following photo proves....
I even bought a somewhat kitch jersey as a commemorative means of celebrating this achievement. I am sure you will see me riding it around town in due course even if it is now with a little bit of tongue in cheek...
Okay so what happened. Well having spent almost all of my energy getting up this climb I didn't particularly listen to the vibe which seemed to be running through the group nor even my own gut instinct - Getting down safely.
The number of tourist buses, motorcyclists and other cyclists on the road, along with the very nature of the descent meant things weren't going to be easy....
Sure I planned to take photos on most corners - the downhill route was in my mind more picturesque than what I had ridden up (not that I didn't stop on the uphill side, for photo / rest stop purposes).
What happened however remains somewhat unknown......
One moment I was taking photos - the next about a week later - I woke up in a hospital with a couple of injuries which I still cannot account for...
- A broken left elbow;
- A suspected fractured vertabrae;
- A sore left knee
From what I have been able to deduce it would seem that at some point coming down the Stelvio I had a slight accident in one of the tunnels, and it was only the fast thinking and acting of a Canadian fireman was the road closed off, whilst I was airlifted off the mountain,
I have subsequently been down the road I was to have ridden and I could not identify any areas of particular concern / danager, nor does my bike indicate that I was hit by anyone / anything.
What I can tell you however is Thank God I was wearing a helmet.
That I owe a great deal of gratitude to countless people including
- Canadian Firemen training manuals;
- Nicki & Annie (fellow La Bella Italia cyclists)
- Doutse & Wilbert ( La Bella Italia crew)
- The Italian Air Ambulance crew
- The Italian Hospital system