Monday, September 1, 2014

Tackling Tuscany's toughest climb - San Pellegrino in Alpe - with Luca. Great day!

I will let the many pictures do most of the narrative today and highlight a few things here at the beginning.  Luca had contacted me earlier in the week to set up doing this ride together, and I agreed. We talked and he told me he wanted company because last year when he rode this climb, it really beat him up and he was a little scared to do it alone.  He also said it is known as "the hardest climb in Tuscany".  So, no reason to get a little anxious, as Luca is the kind of cyclist that for his August vacation he spent 2 weeks in La Grave, France, climbing all the classic Tour de France climbs.  28 years old, quite strong, and fun to ride with.  Anyway, there we were doing this awesome climb.  He dropped me after around 2 or 3 k of the 10% start, but I was with him just below the top, where his garmin alerted him that he was exceeding the maximum heart rate he set.  Yikes.

Anyway, super fun day, but the 18 to 20% section that is around 3 kilometers in length really beat me up.  I guess it should.  When you start the hard section, which truly is after around 10 plus kilometers averaging 10%, there is a sign warning 18%.  There also is writing on the road saying, "inizio la rumba" or the dance starts now.  I made it and actually felt pretty good at the top.  I was feeling the most damage on the 25 to 30 kilometer return to Bagni di Lucca on the mostly flat road.  Anyway, I accomplished the climb and am feeling good about it.  Luca did say when we were having some food after returning to the car, that we would have to try to ride it faster next year.  Well, we shall see.

Here is the garmin link for more information:

San Pellegrino in Alpe - Tuscany's hardest climb by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

Around 3 kilometers and 250 vertical meters above Castelnuovo
di Garfagnana, the real climb starts here.  The sign says to the right,
Passo Radici 15.5 k, and to the left, the same pass at 35 k, so you
get the idea that it will be steep to the right.

Just after the turn off, I got a picture of Luca starting the climb
standing, out of the saddle.  I was trying to channel Contador
and his beautiful standing mechanics when I was out of the saddle.

After 10 plus kilometers at 10%, you hit this sign, warning 18%.
I had been told it would be this steep for a while, but was still
surprised how difficult the 3 plus kilometers at 18 plus % was
in the living.  It is good I love a real challenge.

The view from San Pellegrino in Alpe.  This is after most of the hard
part of the climb, and there is a flat spot here of around 100 meters.
Good water here, which was definitely needed, and excellent views.
The only problem was you could see a ramp ahead that continued
the 18 to 20% pain.  Luckily, it only lasted another 700 meters or so
before the descent finally started.

Luca and I at Passo delle Radici, which is after around 100 vertical
meters of descending from above San Pellegrino.  Coats are on for the 
descent as it was getting chilly.  Nice.

It is a long, long descent of around 35 kilometers, and this incredibly
beautiful little town, with walls intact, stopped me for a picture.
The town is Castiglione di Garfangna, and it also provided a 
spot to take off the coats, as we were back in the sun and warmth.

This Alpe or mountain was often in the distance when views
presented themselves on the descent.  This is around 3 k from 
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana when the grade was very gentle 
and taking a picture felt good.

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