keskiviikko 19. huhtikuuta 2017

Epic ride: 2,700 metres of climbing in Campania, Italy

End of the road at 1,015 m altitude at Vesuvius.
Sorrento peninsula has great roads for riding: from modest climbs on coastal roads to hard ones if you go to the mountains, fairly good surface, and on a workday only modest traffic.

I had planned to stay on the peninsula. Instead, I went also to mount Vesuvius. For that I had to ride in city traffic for 38 km, which wasn't very pleasing. Then again, 1000 vertical metres on an ave 9% climb is something you might call a challenge you can't miss. (see Strava)

The weather was pleasing. 16-20 °C on sea level (0-200 metres) was enough to have a taste of summer, but not too much climbing-wise. On the top of Vesuvius it was 8 °C – actually it was ideal for cooling down the overcooking body.

From Furore to San Michele there is a picturesque 5 km serpentine road segment. It's only 5 % average, so it's also very rideable.

At the top of the serpentine, there is a roadside vista spot with a memorial plate for Il Campionissimo, Fausto Coppi. There I met half a dozen local elderly cyclists who were taking a well-deserved break.

From Agerola to Castelammare there is a whopping 14 km descent. I should warn that take it easy. But if you are like me, keep your eyes open and be prepared for sudden surprises when overtaking cars.

Next section from Castellammare to Torre del Greco via Torre Annunciata has heavy city traffic and poor roads – unavoidable nuisance when you want to reach Vesuvius from South.

Vesuvius. Is. Painful. Particularly for a big guy like me. Long sections of 10-13%. Those rare 4-6% segments felt merciful. Keeping the rhythm. Riding out of the saddle every now and then. Trying to keep cramps at bay. My springtime fitness apparently wasn't on level required by this climb. Phew, finally, done. Nothing to report from the top. Very nice and fast downhill, me liked.

I knew I couldn't make it the second time to Agerola height, and took a detour further to the West, via Meta. There is a 3 km long tunnel before Vico Equense. I suggest you take a good rear light with you, so that you'll be noticed well in advance.

The rest is quite easy. Road reaches 314 m altitude but is not very steep. Then some smaller climbs along the coast. If you still have something in your legs, that's easy. If not... well, for me it was avoiding cramps again and wishing to get back to the hotel before dark. A front light was a practical thing to have, too.

Strava says that the ride was "epic": suffer score over 300. Something you should do on your best days. I slept only four hours last night, and didn't have lunch during the ride. Things that you take care better than me.

Now, instead of Il Campionissimo, I feel like Il Crampionissimo, which makes me avoid bending my legs. Luckily I can do without socks here :)

Sorrento pleases the eye.
Read also the previous post about riding on Amalfi coast.

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