Today was the first day of Team Shutt’s 2017 Venice to Geneva bike packing tour over the Dolomites, Eastern Alps and Swiss Alps following a route inspired by Mike Cotty’s heroic non-stop effort from 2014 (watch the YouTube movie if you haven’t before, it’s amazing).
We're planning to take a bit longer than Mike’s 50-hour epic and have given ourselves just over a week to complete the 22 mountains: Passo San Boldo, Forcella Franche, Passo Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Passo di Falzarego, Passo di Giau, Passo di Pordoi, Passo di Costalunga, Passo dello Stelvio, Passo di Gavia, Passo dell'Aprica, Bernina Pass, Maloja Pass, Splügen Pass, San Bernardino Pass, Lukmanier Pass, Oberalp Pass, Gottard Pass, Nufenen Pass, Col de la Forclaz, Col des Montets and Col de Gêts.
This year’s motley crew is Justin Belcher, Jered Allcock, Phil O'Connor, Billy Leason, Jos Busby, Luke Souter, and Timb Hiscocks, who all work here at Shutt or ride for the Shutt Velo Rapide Racing Team, or both. This is a super-lightweight tour, so minimal packing, which means one set of Shutt's finest Lycra (which gets washed each day in hotel bathrooms), a change of clothes for the evenings, and some cold weather emergency stuff. It can turn nasty on the high passes and you need to be prepared. Add to this; toiletries, sun-cream, phone, and a few tools and that’s your lot… a proper credit card tour.
Today was all about getting ourselves and the bikes over to Italy in one piece and preparing for the week ahead. We picked up boxes from our local cycle shops in the UK to pack our bikes and equipment, which we disposed of in the airport after assembling the bikes. Leaving Venice’s airport was easy and we soon found ourselves on flat country roads leading to our first night at Conegliano.
Today’s ride was short, and the only event worthy of note was a failed attempt to get Phil’s loose headset bearings fixed by an Italian bike shop. Jered later solved the problem (which was Phil’s own fault for fitting new bearings upside-down or something), but the funny part was watching our group trying to converse with the Italian shop owner and his mechanic – neither of whom spoke English. We should have filmed it.