[ blog » 2023 » 09_South-West ]d01: Colle delle Finestre (by Philipp Gesang, location: Some hotel in Sestriere)
2023-08-31

Trainwreck of train trip

Traveling to Italy is never really straightforward. This time around I even got two issues for the price of just one trip, what a bargain! First the train from Zurich to Milano had to leave an hour early on account of the repairs in the Gotthardtunnel not being finished. At least I got to enjoy the scenic views of the old "panoramic" route which is easily worth getting up early.

Then just 25 km from Turin all passengers had to get off the train due to a horrible accident that happened in the morning. To absolutely nobody's surprise the replacement busses provided by Trenitalia only took people but no bikes so I sullenly finished that part of the trip on the bike in the 34 degree heat.

Torino proved non-obvious to navigate with its one-way focused road layout. After some hasty sightseeing I reached the main station just in time for the regional train to Bussoleno. Which was familiar ground for me.

Colle delle Finestre

The main climb of the day, il Colle delle Finestre, starts right outside Bussoleno. It was already past four p.m. when I started out and it quickly got chillier as the sun disappeared behind the peaks. Which at that point was a good thing as I didn't have to worry as much about hydration.

With its steep gradients and the all-gravel upper section, the Finestre is what in technical terms is called a beast of a climb. 13 % gradients sustained over kilometers is kinda ugly but on the crumbling sterrato of the Finestre it gets really tough.

Almost alone for the entirety of the climb it was the numerous cows that provided some company. Smart cows, the view from up there at 2178 m is stunning. When I reached the bottom of the descent it was so dark I had to switch on the lights but to my chagrin the rear one did not emit as much as a photon. Luckily it was only the connectors that came loose on the Finestre gravel so I was all set to take on the final task of the day, the climb up to Sestriere. Which I couldn't not do as in my morning euphoria I had booked a room up there. A night ride on the first day certainly wasn't part of the plan but it turned out to be laid back and calm. Not only because the gradients averaged about half that of the Finestre, but also because the road was pretty much empty. Nevertheless, I still felt a huge relief when I rolled into Sestriere at 10 p. m.

2400 m climbed in just 81 km. Italy really is a blessed cycling country.

gps tracks

[view GPS data in mapbox]

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