Zoncolon

One word…ZONCOLON

Yes it is in capitals, yes I am shouting it. What a beast,

To be honest, before booking this trip, I had never heard of it…you hear a lot about classic climbs like Stelvio, Alpe d’huez and so on, but all the riders rate Zoncolon as much harder.

Two times Zoncolon Giro stage winner Gilberto Simoni described it as a ‘slow execution’.

Here is the climbing graph.

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I have done longer climbs, I have climbed to higher altitudes, and I have climbed a greater ascent ( measured from base above sea level to above sea level) but I have never done such a steep, shorter climb….with really really nasty percentages.

I needed to think….I carry knee, back and asthma  issues, but the one that most people currently are unaware of is that the sore rib I have spoken of, is actually a fractured rib. So for over two weeks I have been riding with a fractured rib.

I am on pain medication at night ( as lying in bed hurts most). Coughing, sneezing, bending, twisting all hurt, but greatly improved.

Breathing very deeply hurts…so climbing has been harder for me ( not that I am a great climber anyway), but this is an added impost.

I cannot risk another fall on my rib at the moment.

I analysed the climb data above, km by km. Red is hard! That is over 10 percent and this climb has patches around 22-24 percent.  Throw in thousands of people walking and cycling up to watch, wet roads, tour motor bikes and cars, alcohol (as many walkers are the drinking revellers) a narrow road and you have one almighty task ahead of you.

We were transferred via van to a rising starting poi T some 2 and a half hours away from Asolo. Great views of the Dolomites as we closed in.

We rode 20 km to the start of the mountain climb in Osalo.

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Ready to start the ascent

My decision was to ride to ‘the wall’ and take it from there.  I got past the wall for a bit, it started to pour with rain and the a motor car was up my clacker and impatient.  There was no room for me and the car, so I had to decleat to let  it past, and I could not recleat in what was 18 percent there.

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This guy was busy with his roller on the wall and road

So I walked then…very hard too… joining Chris (a lady rider in our group from the USA). It was great to sit with her and get to know her. She is very inspiring growing up in a variety of USA national parks ( dad was a ranger). She became a teacher, then worked as a park ranger in Yosemite, a lawyer and now a judge. We had a great chat, chilling on the mountain, waiting, waiting , waiting.

Here is Chris chilling…

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Sitting on a hill for so many hours you see lots of people, many walking and pushing their bikes up the mountain for vantage viewing points. At our position there was a man running and giving people a push. He gave a girl a push and she made a noise..I looked across and realised I knew her…Josie Dow, who swam with my children in Tasmania, and now,living in London!

I called out her name, she looked and smiled! It was great to see her after so many years, but how crazy is that? Here I am, in Italy, up a dirty monster of a climb, and I see someone from yesteryear!

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Josie!!

When the weather started to close in more, Chris and I had a chat about the descent. We knew it was going to be horrific with so many thousands of people descending at once..bikes, walking and many alcohol fuelled.

The riders were still at least half an hour away and we decided to descend a few km down..we crawled down to about 4 km point ( meaning 6 km from the top of the mountain)..

We dumped our bikes with a few others and scrambled up a grassy knoll but not before another Chris photo.

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This was our view whilst we waited…

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Waiting…they are getting close

Then the leading riders ride up this beast…

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Chris Froome in second position.

Seconds later, here is Froome, with the maglia Rosa two places behind ( Simon Yates) and Tom Dumoulin a further two back.

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We needed to wait for all the riders to come through before completely descending. The ride down was pretty horrible really. Mass of humanity with walkers just spreading themselves out over the entire road, having to try to identify opportunities to move between the walkers, who all seemed to have opened umbrellas with those pointy bits at cyclists face level.

So history will show that Chris Froome won. For me, great experience and I am glad I stayed upright!

I have heaps more photos but the internet at this hotel is awful. I have spent around 3 hours trying to get this blog done, with consistent drop outs. I’m giving up! I have to get ready for breakfast and the next ride….grrrr

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3 thoughts on “Zoncolon

  1. Well done Shaz. Having a go and knowing your limits … and a little margin of safety is a good outcome – especially on a wet steep hill!! We had a similar experience in Spain seeing the finish of the Vuelta on Alto Was de la Costa – with an average of 12.5% and peaks at 21%. – the riders finished on top of the hill with lots of spectators lining / wandering the narrow road. [The rides had to ride back down the hill once they all finished as the road was way too narrow to get the buses up!!]. Conditions were dry and warm – so a bit easier on that score!!
    Hope you are enjoying the group tour riding – no pack to carry, the course well defined and slotting in to ride with those around your riding level in the group. You can push along quickly, playfully challenge each other to the top of hills etc…… no slogging it our ‘cos you have to make the next town for accomodation etc. Really nice riding in these tour groups me thinks…. hope you fins the same.

    Like

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