So my first target was the legendary Ghisallo climb from Bellagio on Lake Como. The Ghisallo ends at the Madonna del Ghisallo, the internationally famous church dedicated to cyclists.
The climbing actually begins deep in the center of Bellagio. However, here's where I consider the true climb to start, at the 9 km to go sign at the traffic circle (below this traffic is too heavy):
the start of the climb proper
From this point, here's the route profile, riding along the main road as opposed to the alternate back-road ascent:
Not quite 9 km by my GPS, but close enough. The climb rates 113% on the Low-Key Hillclimbs rating scale, where Old La Honda is by definition 100%. Note the substantial descent along the way: as a result the rating is almost as large just riding the first portion. But to do that would be to miss some of the best climbing. Traditionally it's said to be 14% maximum grade, but you can see from the profile any 14% grade isn't sustained for long.
But wow -- what an amazing experience! I passed three Italian randonneurs on the way, the only cyclists I encountered during my climb on that Tuesday morning, but later on my ride (after stopping at the church and the associated museum) I was humbled by an extremely fit looking guy with an SRM: an obvious racer.
staged shot of summiting the climb (I put my camera on timer and then recrossed the line, slowly)
Here's the segment on Strava. My goal had been to set the KOM on this legendary climb and I succeeded. However, Strava hasn't yet caught on in Italy, but when it does my time won't last long. Still, it's really nice to have reached my goal on what's a super-legendary climb.
Merckx's Merckx with an honored position inside the church
So all you riders in Italy: sign up for Strava and start posting that GPS data! I want to see some real numbers for this one. It's an absolutely fantastic climb: steep sections, gorgeous scenery, easily accessible by train and ferry, smooth pavement, and what a reward when you get to the top: the church and the museum are almost worth a trip to Italy on their own.
Afterwards I climbed further to San Prima. This is also a rewarding climb, and in combination with the climb to the church makes for a nice combination. But how can one not stop to admire the church? But I'm sure someone will soon enough post a Strava segment for the two together.