[ blog » 2021 » 07_Tour_Italy ]d16: Blockhaus ( by Philipp Gesang, location: Pratola Peligna)

50 km uphill until an altitude of 2068 m above sea level, that's the toll for today. And since I started out directly at the coast, I had to climb all 2068 m of it.

After a smooth, gentle first 30 km until around Fara Filiorum Petri the meat of the ascent started. The town of Pretoro thrones over the first 300 m of elevation from its majestic location on the slope of the Maiella massif.

Until the tree line at 1500 the climb was fantastic: trees -- mostly beach and pine -- lining the road, a spectacular view of the coast and the foothills in front of it, and above all ideal weather conditions: it was overcast by high clouds but still dry at a refreshing 25 degrees celsius. A patch of blue sky stayed fixed over the Blockhaus peak all day which inverted the conditions for a while at altitude. Strong winds alternated with a brutal sun for what was remaining until the peak. At the plateau above 2000 m it was completely calm again which I took as an invitation for a long pause.

Curiously the peak area seems to be populated by wild dogs. I spotted at least three, all of them with white hair as though they were selected for mimicry of the other most frequent species up there, sheep. I wonder what they eat. Those small, squirrel-ish rodents perhaps that were escorting me up the final kilometer?

There were disappointingly few cyclists on the road today for a climb as legendary as the Cima Blockhaus. I counted around five roadies plus a handful of MTB-ers and E-cyclists. Criminally underrated, as they say.

The descent via Lettomanoppello was equally scenic with a view of the Popoli Gorges in the background. Thanks to numerous long straight sections it was also a very brakepad friendly downhill, I appreciate that. At around 1000 m and below the cloud cover was gone and the sun threw all the radiation at me that it had.

With some effort I made it through the Popoli Gorges -- the road follows the Pescara river upstream -- to the eponymous town when again, a deviazione sent me up some nearby climb because the road to Pratola Peligna is closed. At that point my legs already felt like puree and I was definitely not in the mood for another 200-300 m of pointless climbing in the grueling heat. Including that unwanted detour I ended up traveling 117 km today, not bad for a tougher climb than the Etna!


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