On two wheels

Prelude: The Mortirolo

I climbed the legendary Mortirolo, but from the non-legendary side. I had a blast. I made a video of it.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m a cyclist. I mean, my previous blog project had been labeled Professor and Cyclist. I’m a roadie, to be more precise. (I admire the MTB crowd, but I’ve never really taken it up myself.) I got hooked on the sport – I remember – when I watched a stage of the Giro d’Italia in the early 2000s. Honestly, I just didn’t know what else to watch on a boring afternoon. That Star Trek episode I knew already.

Being from Berlin, I am what they would call a Flachlandtiroler. Bike magazines excited me with shots from the Alps. I also still watched the Giro and learned the names of some of its most famous climbs. Among them stood out: The Mortirolo.

Flachlandtiroler, der – person from any area where mountains don’t exceed 1’000m in height, usually characterized by a lack of preparation, care, and equipment, but no shortage of ambitions.

Many cyclists called the Mortirolo a terrible climb, and it stands out as the regularly toughest challenge of the Giro d’Italia. If one goes up the Mortirolo from the North, that is. The ascent’s slope coming from Mazzo constantly goes in the double digits, and the road is narrow, not giving much space to support vehicles. At least it’s in the shadow of the forest, which in this typically hot area helps a bit. The Southern ascent, from Monno, is much more exposed to the sun. That’s also about what makes it tough from that side, since the Southern climb itself is much more modest in steepness. Double digit slopes appear as well, but infrequently and briefly, and the street is wider.

Great, so I’ve conquered that epic climb. Or not: I came from Monno. I leave it to you to judge. I throw in that before I already climbed the Passo dell’Aprica, which is another rather long climb. I accept that the real challenge, though, is the Mortirolo from Mazzo in combination with the Gavia pass – and that I’m not mentally fit enough for that.


After all, I mostly wanted to escape the heat and test the legs one more time before the summer holidays. I had been on another ride in the mountains just the day before. Strangely, with half of the climbing, it felt much worse than the Mortirolo. Anyways, it was a ride meant to test and build my shape, not to consume it. And it was a ride that rewarded me with wonderfully fresh mountain water (temperature as if taken from the fridge), great views on the route we’re going to follow next week, and practicing my languages skills in some conversations with a few random Italians. Just a prelude, but a pretty good one.


Some posts might follow up from this trip. I’ve made some experiences now with my ProStandard GoPro 360 mount, which is a big improvement over the standard GoPro mount. I’ve tried some new sports nutrition. I’ve been impressed again with this new rolling stock of Trenord. And I want to spread the word for the guys of Relive.cc, who have produced an awesome summary clip of my race stats.

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