Giro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 5
We were moving to Mestre today, to participate in the Open European Mahjong Championship.
But since C. insisted he should definitely climb the Monte Zoncolan, they made a ‘little’ detour to Ovaro.
After all, it didn’t look that much of a detour on the map, but on Italian (secondary) roads…
He should have known from the transfer two days before from Vipiteno to Longega for the Furcia.
So, after another 3 hour drive, he was actually not so fresh anymore, but now that they were here anyway, he might as well go for it…
The Gateway to Hell
So, around 12:45 – which is really a good time to get on your bike under a blistering sun – he started the climb. He had studied the profile – cut into some 20 stretches of around 500 meters – so he thought he knew what was waiting for him.
The big sign ‘La Porte Per l’Inferno’ at the actual start of the climb should perhaps have been a warning, but he doesn’t scare easy.
Actually, he should have been scared – having studied and dissected the profile, he thought he was well prepared for the route, but as he should have known, these average profile descriptions (pictures) do not mean jack shit when compared to the real thing.
Plus, he did not take into account the murdering heat, with a temperature ever going up while ascending, and that proved to be quite demanding, trying to defy gravity on 18%-20% stretches – his legs were good, but for an effort like this, the heat was too much…
Rest or die
However, by taking a short break a couple of times – mainly to lower the risk of either his head or his heart exploding – he managed to get up ‘Passo del Diavolo’.
As much as he doesn’t like doing that, for the true hero will never put a foot on the ground unless he’s dead, his biggest problem was trying to find a spot where he would actually be able to get moving again.
Slowly, but sort of steadily when moving, he inched himself uphill meter by meter, trying not to look too much ahead; some hairpins are really scarily steep.
Considering that for the better part of the Zoncolan the percentages fluctuate between 15 and 18% and the temperature rose to over 37 degrees Celsius, he was happy to make it to the summit at all.
No crowds at the summit (but there were cows)
An all but abandoned summit too – he was hoping for a tavern or at least something to sit and have a drink, maybe buy a jersey as a trophy of his accomplishment, but alas. The cows were friendly though…
Anyway, all in all he is proud of his achievement, but obviously, the wiser thing to do, is to take on a monster like this earlier in the day (or later) at considerably lower temperatures…
The breathtaking stats of today: 9.7 km (starting at the chapel) with 1,261 altimeters.
Taking a short brake
Cycling adventures continue Monday the 11th when he will climb the Mortirolo, which is rumored to be about as bad as the Zoncolan.