Two of my friends went to ride Scanuppia this summer. There was no cycling sign on the begining of the road. They went anyway. But police came after them and turned them back with a warning. So no cycling except on Scanuppia day! This year it was on 25.4.2010, hoping for the same date in 2011.
Which climb is the hardest? The one with the most altitude meters gained? The one with the steepest average gradient? The one with the steepest section? Which climb is the hardest in Slovenia, Vršič, Kum, Sveta Gora, perhaps Jelenov klanec? Debates like tis are always dwelling among the cyclists. Guys on the salite.ch website have devised a cunning plan, well a formula, that recognizes all of the factors mentioned above and some more; this is the link to the page explaining the formula: www.salite.ch/struttura/indice_diff_en.asp. They have a groving database of climbs, more than 8000 of them and growing. The climb rated toughest by their formula is the climb to Scanuppia from Bessenello. The Climb. Off course this is the one to climb. This thought stuck in my thick head. So I had a look around, gather the infos, where the heck is Bessenello. It isn’t that far, actually. Lousy 350 km from Slovenian border, above Verona in a glacial valley connecting Verona and the city of Trento. Rising above the valley is Scanuppia plateau, plateau is a vague term for a inclined mountain side with pastures and in the lower part filled with weekend cottages. Top part is protected area, some sort of nature reserve or a national park.
Troubles finding the climb
During the logistic preparations I read some of the descriptions, that I found on the internet. They all had one serious deficiency. None of them actually describes where (the hell) the climb starts. Damn. The road is very well hidden, it’s understandable, taken that it’s extremely dangerous for a standard car. A Dutchman even wrote that this road is used mainly by the members of the local 4×4 club. Apparently membership of this club consists mainly of Dad’s with family’s and a Fiat Panda’s 4×4. And they all own a weekend cottage on Scanuppia. Seriously, the road was made and is maintained for and by the cottage owners, many of them.
How to get to the beginning of the climb? As you arrive in Bessenello, go to the quarry that is located in a gorge above the Bessenello in the direction of the Folgaria. You can get to the quarry by taking literary any road heading uphill. Except the one heading to the castle. Some 100 meters before the quarry the road turns left over the bridge, and you see the famous 45% sign, and those 45% are realistic!
I start the climb by shifting to the easiest gear on my faithful mtb, 22-34. The concrete road starts to rise effortlessly . How appropriate, the road is also the way of the cross. Every 50 or 100 meters there’s a station. As I ride along, I try to remember how many stations are there? Already I’m on the number 14, I guess this means the suffering’s over? By the road is a little cavern carved in the wall. There are 3 chairs for the tired pilgrims that managed to get to the final station. But the road only just started to wind up. It leads through a rock wall that reminds me of Mt. Triglav north face. OK I’m exaggerating just a tad. It feels that way looking from the top.
The photos simply just dont show the real steepnes. Position on the bike is awkward, to put it mildly. I try to keep the centre of gravity between front and rear wheel. I lack experience on these kind of 30%+ steep roads. Concrete road luckily grips very well, thank you. There’s no sand except on the edges. I cycle to really absurdly steep corner, steepnes goes well over 45%. I try to zig-zag. It doesn’t work very well. The road is very narrow and you immediately find yourself on the sandy edge of the road. That means crevasse on the one side and rocky wall on the other. Translation efforts are too much for me.