Upon arriving at the finish line, Markham and Charles rode 200 yards further to the edge of the pass and almost got blown off their bikes. We had climbed the southern side of Old Baldy, the leeward side, as the wind was from the north. At the top, gusts of 40+ mph practically blew them over.
Nel confirmed that descending the north side of the mountain was not possible. “No way!” she exclaimed, and Rich got back on his bike and went to experience it himself. “Absolutely not ridable!” he reported.
We warmed in front of the fire, ate lunch, and waited an hour to see if conditions might improve. The rain was hard, steady and sideways. The temperature was 50 and seemingly dropping.
We have ridden in many tough conditions, including rain, wind, sleet and fog atop the Furka Pass in Switzerland, but we realized it would be foolhardy to ride further. It would be a toss-up to see if the rain, cold or wind got us first.
In the end, we loaded our bikes into the Andiamo vans and drove an hour to Ascoli Piceno. We were aborting the queen stage, a day Mike said was “so beautiful!–the most unbelievable day of the trip!”
Would we still be able to say we rode across Italy?
Distance: 13.3 mi.
Vert.: 3,200 ft.