The Italian Giro Files : Day 4

Day 4 : “It’s not the mountains we conquer but ourselves”, Edmund Hilary .

Distance 104 km,

Elevation gain 3140 m,

Moving time 7.55 min

Conquering the Italian Dolomites was the dream we dreamt for the last 8 months…. And the day was here!

The ride started as usual with a 5.30am bag drop. There was a eerie stillness in the air during breakfast, as if the riders were about to go to the battle front. And boy, battlefront it definitely was 😊😊.

8 miles into the ride, we came face to face with our first climb, Passo Valles, a 2037 metre climb over 26km …. The route was spectacular, resplendant with gushing waterfalls and pristine emerald green lakes.

The company was varied. Caught up with Milind. Reminiscing of memories from our past from 1997, of experiencing the first snowfall together and long walks with the then chubby toddler Varun took us happily through a few miles. Cruising behind the father son duo Ashutosh – Parth / Sunil – Miheer was equally interesting. They kept pace with each other and encouraged each other to go ahead at times. Moments like these are the cementing blocks of any relationship and it felt beautiful. Watching them reminded me that somewhere in front even Ram and Varun were creating history together. The latter half of the climb was with Vijay, one of my ideal cycling partners….. We climbed slowly and steadily to the beats of music, trying to chat intermittently about life in general but knowing that nothing could distract us from the difficulties ahead.

Soon we reached Passo Valles and after the customary photos etc, the thrilling and knuckle buckling descent started. My music playlist changed to all the soothing numbers and I was in seventh heaven on the loop of Ae Zindagi gale laga le….

Following lunch break, everything changed and soon the climbs started again. The much awaited hair pin loops went on for 30km and soon I realised that everything that I was holding on to dearly in this journey was slipping away from me.

Ram and Varun zoomed past me. Vijay decided to take an extra long break in anticipation of the climb. At the 4th bend, when Parth declared that we had 29 bends in all, Subhash lost it and just charged ahead , disappearing for the rest of the day.

My phone battery soon died down and at that point, I suddenly realised that I was on my own….. The feeling was immense, being surrounded by colossal mountains, the light air closing down heavily upon me, silence so loud that it was deafening. Soon, a new sensation set in, I felt totally disconnected from myself and everything that belonged to me. It was as if I was up in the clouds, watching this lone figure struggling her way up the killer climbs. All I felt was the need to just move on and that’s all I did. A cleansed soul, it was pure and devoid of any emotions…..

But that didn’t last for long. At turn 17, I decided that enough was enough, my mind suddenly connected itself and chided me for my actions. I was not getting any younger, I was not getting any medals or accolades for this, was I? So why was I going thru this pain…..I tried to flag the support van down but they thought I was waving at them and they waved back merrily and went away. The skies opened up after that and as if laughing at me, soaked me to the bone. I took shelter in a nearby hut but it was only turn 20 and I had 8 more km to go. I was in tears, I just wanted to stop, I just wanted to be somewhere warm, but there was no choice but to carry on.

My mind wandered to all those who had left me, to those who were going through either battles in life. My speed was barely recordable and I was stopping after every few metres. At a distance I saw the faint outlines of some of our cyclists and soon enough, Ram and Varun came up. They were such a beautiful sight to see and I immediately announced my decision to stop cycling. Ram cycled for a while with me, and reasoned that if I have done marathons, I should be able to do this easily.

That was my wake up call….. Yes, I was a marathoner, and a proud one at that. How could I give up now?! One thing that the marathons have taught me was never to give up, and so with this renewed vigor, I pumped ahead, the end in sight…..

Alas, a few minutes into my new pumped up avatar, I heard Ram shouting out to the support team that I wanted a break and a lift!!! I went into a total apoplectic shock, refusing velhmently to get into the support van! I had climbed the steepest and most difficult climb of the Giro d’Italia, not to give up in the last 800 m.

A few metres ahead, I could see the happy yellow jersey of Nandu, waiting to push me through the final 500m and I cried out in joy!!! Nandu and me raced to the top, him running and me cycling and soon enough I was reunited with my flock. A blur of green helmet came rushing through and enveloped me into a tight hug, whispering we did it, we did it….. Kalpa!!!! My partner in crime in all these adventures, who savoured each and every breath of the mountain air….

Ram was waiting at the top, super thrilled and excited…..Passo Giau was finally conquered!! 30km of uphill climbing, 2230mt high.

“It’s not the mountains we conquer but ourselves”, Edmund Hilary .

2 cars, 3 days, 1200 miles: A road trip of a lifetime through the land of fire and ice!




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Take a crazy idea, add equally crazy people to it and sometimes it comes to life in the most memorable way possible!

13 girls, all used to the various luxuries in life, decided to take a detour from their usual girlie holiday ( London, Paris, Portugal, Milan) and embarked on an adventurous road trip in none other than Iceland.

We started our planning more than 6 months in advance, dates upon dates, chopped and changed, cars booked, hotels pored upon and routes scanned. Nothing was left to chance. The food department was adamant on packing a rice cooker, soup maker, 300 theplas and innumerable condiments, etc ( talk about garlic smell in iceland!) Thanks to the horror shock of paying a few extra quid for luggage, which was not acceptable to the ‘housewife’ mentality in us, we managed to leave without the rice cooker, upma mix and some snacks ( though someone still sneaked some into their bags).

We reached Reykjavik and soon were whisked away to our car rental company Green Motion who provided us with a 9 seater and a 5 seater. And so we were off.

Followed the plan as was mapped out ( chart below).


The pictures are proof to the wonderful journey ( details of where we stopped and what we saw including fun photos in another post)

36 hours , 1200 miles went by in a flash and soon it was time to leave this magical kingdom.

Secretly chuffed at the prospect of boasting to our men folk about our driving and managing to survive on our own but more than that, carrying with us the memories of a peaceful and stunning adventure.






You can never have enough of Venice, I realised after my fourth trip to this jewel of an island. This time, I didn’t want to return and rightly so…..

People ask me about itineraries in Venice, places to see, places to stay, places to eat and all I can say is that the best itinerary in Venice is not to have one at all! It is to experience the sights and smells of Venice, to melt in the shadows of the crumbling houses, to just be in the moment wherever whenever you are……


Venice, at first sight, is a labyrinthine mess of alleyways, serpentine canals, moss coloured or jade like waterways and small quaint shops with equally small doorways selling priceless glassworks and crystals along side cheap masks with equal gusto. But soon enough, you realise that there is a structure and a pattern to this mess and your eyes are drawn to the artfully peeling paint of the flats above which merge seamlessly into the canal waters and their ever so smooth reflections of the gondolas gliding past. Of course, it does rest for a fleeting moment or so on the sinewy shoulders of the handsome gondola man in his unique striped jersey and hat, but that is a different story.


Hence, to see Venice in its full glory, we walked away from the hustle and bustle of the heaving and thronging St Mark’s square into the least crowded direction where you can peer into the most intriguing doors, colourful windows. We walked on, narrowly avoiding a football which appeared from thin air, kicked in utmost style by a Messi wannabe, almost instantly followed by a blood curling scream by a big Italian mamma, the boy’s mother, who swore at the boy and apologized to us in equal fervor  before disappearing into the mass of clothes that were hung out to dry from her balcony. Ducking into the nearest cafe, we sipped expresso, chatting happily in our very scant Italian to the locals who were more than gleeful and happy to correct our language. A long long lunch followed at a non descript hole in the wall trattoria with amazing wine as a bonus.

The moment when time stood still….


Waiting for the ferry….

Embarking on a ferry to Burano, I was in seventh heaven. Burano, one of the top places for photography was always on my bucket list and it was due to come alive soon. The village appeared as if some playful kids had splashed different colours, all bold, vivid, stark, over the houses.  Burano was a fishing village and the houses were coloured differently so that businesses were easy to identify for the sailing folks. You can never have enough photos in Burano, that’s for sure. Of course, due to the mishap earlier in Venice, where my camera lens decided to take a tumble in the canal, I was left with no choice but to take pics with my Iphone, but someday I hope to return and hopefully soon. 

Reflections in Burano
The been there, done that moment

Home, yellow home

Reflections in Burano

Rays of hope

A bygone era, still present
Bold and beautiful
Random reflections Burano
Of course, the signature pose
Old is gold

New is platinum

Some priceless  moments

My treasures….