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June 30, 2004: Pontresina - Bormio

Today was my day to "rest" and recover. Max and Chip went on an epic ride.

After a fine breakfast with lots of fruit and yogurt (and, of course, the cute Swedish waitress), the three of us started climbing the Berninapass (2328m). The fact that I know every curve of this road made the climb extra fun and hard. Fun, because it was a trip up memory lane; hard, because I knew exactly how much was still ahead of me. We made a brief stop in the Montebello Curve, where the view of Piz Palü was pretty as always. Despite of the stunning beauty around me, I had a rather hard time getting up Berninapass; I was tired.

Max and Chip had been waiting for a while when I reached the summit. They were anxious to get on with their epic ride, so we soon started our descent and went our seperate ways. I waved at them as they raced down towards Tirano. I took a left turn and climbed the 300m up Forcola di Livigno (2315m). A deceivingly steep climb. I was slow, but I was enjoying the very rocky, bare, almost Martian landscape around me.

I crossed the border into Italy and cycled down the long flat road towards Livigno (1805m), a touristy, tax-free shop haven full of wealthy Swiss and Italians. I took a fairly long break and enjoyed the sandwich I made from ingredients I bought at the local grocery store. The little fountain brought some welcome relief from the pressing heat. With pain in my heart I threw away the leftover of my favorite Thomy lemon-mayonnaise that I had been unable to consume with my sandwich, and started cycling up Passo di Foscagno. Only 500m higher than Livigno, but because of the 200m dip halfway up, the climb is effectively 700m. The last 200m were painful and slow.

I raced down 1000m into a completely different climate. The air was thick and warm, and I was now really in Italy. At this point, the feeble construction that held my baggage holder in place broke down and every bump caused it to bang around loudly. Upon later inspection, it turned out to have badly damaged the paint. (My Bianchi unfortunately lacks eyelets to properly mount a baggage holder using bolts.)

I finally reached Bormio (1217m) and checked into Hotel Capitani on Via Milano, the main road through Bormio. It was only 4pm, so I transformed myself into a normal human being by wearing normal pants and flip-flops and then strolled around the little town. I bought an apple, and then attempted to buy rubber strips to fix my baggage holder. None of the four languages I speak were of any help, so with a lot of hand-waving and a dictionary, the friendly shop-owner eventually led me to his collection of linoleum carpets and gave me a small strip for free. I rested at a restaurant on the local plaza, and enjoyed a very good, nutritious meal. I listened in on the conversation of the group of tipsy Dutch men next to me, and eventually proposed we watch the semi-final soccer match against Portugal together. I couldn't be bothered too much about the crushing defeat. I had had such a wonderful afternoon.

When I got back to the Hotel, Max and Chip were full of epic stories about their brutal ride. Everyone happy, we fell into a deep sleep.

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