Yesteray Mike and Lexi agreed to ride up to the top of Mt. Grappa with Sherie and I. George, 81 yrs young, thought his legs too tired for the climb with us. We decided to climb the “standard route” which has the widest road, most milage, and least steep profile.
So it was to be the four of us, and Mike said he knew the way to the start so George didn’t need to escort us. And indeed he did. In something like 3 km of downhill from the hotel we were at the start of the climb.
In Italy, the switchbacks are numbered. Here, number one is about 500 meters from the intersection that marks the bottom. As soon as we rounded number one, the grade kicked right up to about 9% to 10% and stayed that way for quite a while. “Oh my” I thought, “what have we gotten ourselves into?”
Well, after about 3 km, 4 switchbacks, and a lot of hot sweat, the grade eased off quite a bit to what became the norm of about 6% to 7%. We passed by the parapette and hang glider jumping point, the communications towers, a few bars and trattorias and side streets to homes.
Then we started a fairly flat traverse through the cool of the forest, even some downhill, that allowed my body temp to cool. By now, Mike was out of site ahead, and Sherie and Lexi were out of site behind. When the grade kicked in again to about 7%, I just settled into my own rhythm and plugged away.
I was expecting about 30 km from the junction to the top. I could see from my bike odometer that I had lots of kms to go, so just kept it pretty smooth and easy, breathing and heart well in control. The road passes lots of caves blasted into the roadside rocks from WWI, cow ranches in the meadows advertising fromaggia, and forested areas with shade. The middle section is mostly moderate grade, a couple rollers down, until one is about 5 km from the summit. Here one is finally below the large mound that makes up the summit itself, and the grade steepens a bit again. Here I was glad to have all the cows ringing their bells in encouragement of my efforts up the final pitches to the summit.
Near the top I was greeted with fog. The humidity below had been rising on the thermals, and the cumulus were starting to form. Soon a motor scooter appeared in my mirror, and surprisingly George appeared. He roared passed me when I had about 2 km to go.
Mike and George were in the summit “hut;” you know, a large wooden building with all the modern conveniences like an espresso bar, full service restaurant, toilletes where one straddles the feet, and and picture window views. Above one could see, at least when the fog would clear for a minute, on the summit a quarter mile above, the memorial to the soldiers who fought here in WWI. I was not about to climb this in bike cleats, but enjoyed a soda and pastry. In about a half hour, Lexi and Sherie appeared, and we congratulated each other on the efforts.
The descent we chose is the same route we climbed, for the same reason. with the least steep grade, we could enjoy some coasting between braking for corners.
For Ben, the vest and arm warmers were not quite enough, as I had not completely dried from the sweaty efforts of the ascent. However, as we neared the bottom, the heat and humidity of the valley floor encouraged us to stop and strip to base layers again.
Soon enough we were at the hotel for lunch. Team spirits were high after a successful ride on a much harder difficulty scale.
One interesting note, at least to Ben, is today was the six month anniversary of the Ben’s birthday ride up King Ridge in Sonoma county.
- 62.89 km
- 3:34 ride time
- 17.60 kph ave
- 57.0 kph max
- 1721 vert m
- 1770 m top elevation
- 5% ave climb
- 11% max climb