We went to the start. I almost got on the bus with the Colombians. We went to the sign-in. We saw the race in Oulx. We drove to France discussing our excitement regarding Galibier [The Pantani Mountain of the 2103 Giro d’Italia is Col du Galibier, in memory of the Romagna Climber’s feat in the 1998, when he won the Tour De France (during the Stage 15 Grenoble – Les Deux Alpes), realizing the Giro-Tour double.]. We sat in a long line at the border, anxious for no reason about whether we needed papers/passports (see DYS sign below). We paid for and drove through a tunnel to France. We had trois cafes on the top of Telegraphe. We got stopped like three little Rodney Dangerfields of Cycling Journalism at the base of Galibier (10k from the finish) because we didn’t have a permesso or “special pass.” Apparently there was an email regarding instructions about obtaining a special pass. Apparently there was a shuttle bus at 3:00pm; the time at that point was 3:45pm. Maybe because it was the finish of today’s stage, or maybe because this was the HIGHLIGHT of the entire 2013 Giro d’italia (as in going to the top of Galibier was possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity, not to mention we’re talking here about going to the top of Galibier during the Giro in a year with a lot of snow), but whatever it was we were c-r-u-s-h-e-d.
We stood around in the deviation parking lot kicking rocks and talking shit for quite sometime. We walked around confused and disappointed. We ate sausages in French bread with dark yellow mustard. We commiserated with other media, some were walking, some were hitchhiking, some were trying to find a way up in team cars. We stared at the mountain, or rather in the mountain’s general direction as it was in the clouds, hiding. In the midst of our funk I photographed an Italian-looking man leaning on a wooden rail, he looked annoyed, I smiled. Ten minutes later that man and some of his friends offered in Italo-English to take one of us (they only had space for one more person) to the top, apropos of nothing, out of nowhere.
At some point during the drive to the to top (in a Black Audi A6, two in the front, three in the back—I sat back-right), past the first set of switchbacks, out of the clouds and into the mist, I almost cried.
At the top, past the finish and somewhere in the vicinity of the Pantani Monument, they dropped me off and told me I was welcome to ride back with them (I didn’t; I walked back most of the way and took the shuttle the rest), then handed me a small paper box with a slice of very delicious pizza inside. I had an hour to make it 2km back down off the shoulder of the mountain and onto the face of it for the finish.