New York, NY—July 17, 2011
HSS cyclists cheered each other up the Passo dello Stelvio, the highest summit in Italy and one of the most grueling mountain climbs in the Italian Alps, with more than 48 hairpin switchbacks and an average 7.4% grade that is difficult to do in a car, not to mention a bike.
The riders were rewarded with spectacular views and a fast descent down the other side to the ski resort town of Bormio reaching speeds of 50 mph. Great technical skill and a good deal of caution were needed to successfully negotiate the turns as narrow roadways were shared with motorcycles, cars, and the occasional bus. Riding through pitch black tunnels required nerves of steel.
The cyclists were not entirely unscathed as some experienced a few bumps and bruises and unfortunately one required stitches after a fall and subsequent trip to a local hospital ER, but all will return with a feeling of great accomplishment. Averaging six hours of riding each day for seven days, the cyclists rode more than 250 miles and climbed over 43,000 vertical feet in the Dolomites and the Italian Alps.
This tremendous tour was the culmination of hundreds of hours of training. HSS doctors can be regularly seen doing early morning loops in New York City's Central Park where they are emblazoned with the HSS identity. For one, this trip was the motivation to get back to peak riding form after a serious bike-car accident and several broken bones requiring multiple surgeries less than nine months ago.
“The love of the sport brings this group together year after year, and it’s inspiring to see the recoveries made by those who have been set back,” said Dr. Leonardo Paroli, HSS anesthesiologist and the team's intrepid leader, who has organized this trip for the past seven years.
The medical profession was well represented with participants from both the United States and Italy and the group embodied the adage of practicing what you preach - namely exercising to maintain a healthy life. The cyclists range in age from late-teens to mid-70s with varying degrees of separation from HSS.
Forming the biking peloton with Dr. Paroli from the U.S. was Dr. Andy Weiland, HSS hand surgeon; Dr. Robert Rozbruch, HSS limb lengthening surgeon; Dr. Sarah Holland, plastic surgeon and daughter of Dr. Weiland; Matt Holland, son-in-law of Dr. Weiland; Matt Rivera, former HSS physical therapist; J.D. Pelaez, HSS patient; Vincenzo Vicari, Steve Galowitz and Ethan Galowitz, fellow cyclists. The Italian contingent included an orthopedic surgeon, an emergency room physician and an anesthesiologist.
“Cycling is an unbelievable way to stay fit and active and to be able to share the experience with friends and family was great,” said Dr. Weiland, who was also joined by his wife, Nancy.
“The chance to cycle with people with varying backgrounds in such a beautiful country was a wonderful experience,” remarked Dr. Rozbruch.
In addition to the Passo dello Stelvio, notable climbs of the HSS giro included Passo Falzarego, Paseo Gardena, Passa Campolongo, Mortirolo, Paseo Gavia, Passo Foscagno, Passo della Forcola, and Passo Bernia. The last stage ended in lovely Lake Como.