Giro di Muscoli – Stage 7 Monte Nerone, 148km

Photo: A classic Italian lunch on the top of a mountain

Stage 7 Monte Nerone, Saturday 19th Sep

Monte Nerone. Once used for the Giro d’italia. Rather than explain any further it’s easier to show you the signs at the bottom of the climb.

I was delighted to be joined by Andy who flew out from London to join me for a number of the Stages. We chatted all the way to the start of the climb. So much so we hardly noticed the 56km from the start. We did however notice the climbing. Conversation was more limited, mostly because I couldn’t talk and climb at the same time.

The first few ramps are quite steep then a series of switchbacks. The higher we climbed the fewer the trees. The fewer the trees the less the shade. The less the shade the higher the temperature. We were beginning to overheat when the cold mountain winds started to cool us down. A problem averted.

Another problem averted. Wild horses. As we approached a herd of horses on the road ahead of us we wondered what to do. We could stay behind them but they were very slow compared to us. We didn’t fancy overtaking them as one kick could see us tumbling down the mountain. As we wondered what our best strategy would be they turned off down a track.

As we ground our way up we started to feel better when we saw the turn markers, turn 10, 9, 8, 7… we were getting closer. At turn 3 our pace picked up a little like a horse on the home run. At the summit we contemplated our achievement at the homage to the Giro d’italia.

We also looked back from where we had come from. It was a long way away and a long way down.

On most climbs the summit is followed by the descent. Not on Monte Nerone. There are two summits. After dropping down a little we then had to climb back up to the communications towers.

We were 1,500m above sea level where we had an extraordinary experience. Two guys were already there. They turned out to be father and son, Marco and Luca. They spotted the Giro di Muscoli jerseys and asked what we were doing. The story of the Giro brought Marco to tears. His friend has Multiple Sclerosis. The parallels with Gerben upset him, but he was full of praise for the GdM. Even though Andy doesn’t speak Italian he understood the emotion and the compliments. A very special moment for us both on top of a mountain.

On the way back we stopped just the once, in the stunning Furlo Gorge.

The return trip was uneventful, but that was fine. We had a great day climbing a mountain and a very moving experience at the top. That was more than enough for us.

Stage Stats: 148km | 2,169m climbing | 4,908 calories

Giro Stats: 7 Stages | 1,207km | 8,467m climbing | 37,430 calories

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