The Ultimate Climb Challenge
Travel: How hard is too hard? We’re going to find out. In honor of our 14th year, Thomson Bike Tours is proud to introduce our latest and greatest challenge: a 14 day trip concept whose sole purpose is to conquer as many HC climbs as possible.
– Special Travel Feature By Peter Thomson of Thomson Bike Tours –
Presenting the first edition:
LA RUTA NEGRA #1 Italia powered by Bianchi
July 30 – August 13, 2016
1700 kilometers – 50,000 meters of climbing (1000 miles and 150,000 ft)
La Ruta Negra, literally, the black route, is a devious design. We used our experience and ambition to map out a spectacular 2 week experience that winds through the toughest climbs of the Italian Alps. It’s a natural partnership for Thomson and Bianchi. Thomson has gained a reputation for building routes that focus on Europe’s greatest cycling climbs. For Bianchi, this is an opportunity to welcome avid cyclists to their homeland to test their top end bikes on the iconic terrain that has inspired the brand for over a century.
A Laundry List of Legendary Climbs
HC stands for Hardcore! The route features 20 above category Italian climbs as well as a meticulously selected list of lesser known, but equally impressive peaks. Giro d’Italia fans will be thrilled to conquer the most notorious Italian climbs:
• Passo Stelvio
The 2nd highest pass in the Alps, the Stelvio may be the most iconic Italian climb. Defined by its 48 switchbacks, the road is truly a feat of Italian engineering. This Giro climb is on every avid cyclist’s bucket list, thanks to it’s designation as the highest finish in the Grand Tours. Want to feel pro? We’ll ride up both sides of Stelvio on the same day.
• Monte Zoncolan
Considered the hardest climb of the Grand Tours, those who are brave enough to attempt Zoncolan’s 11.5% average slope (for 10.5 km!) are greeted by a sign that reads “Welcome to the Gates of Hell.” This may be the first time you ever thought about riding a triple.
• Passo Gavia
You might remember the sensational Gavia from the epic 1988 Giro d’Italia when American Andy Hamsten fought through a blizzard to take 2nd on the stage, capturing the pink leader’s jersey, which he held for the remainder of the race.
• Passo Mortirolo
Lance Armstrong famously called it the hardest climb he had ever done. The wicked Mortirolo, (10.5% for 12 km) is one of the most challenging climbs in Europe and a Giro staple. A defining feature of the narrow, sinewy climb is the beautiful monument to Il Pirata, Marco Pantani, halfway up the ascent.
• Monte Grappa
There are 10 different routes up this breathtaking beast in Veneto. We’ll ride 2 of them, taking in the lush landscape and jaw-dropping views. To ‘Fare il Grappa’ is rite of passage for Italian cyclists.
• Colle delle Finestre
Located in Piemonte, Finestre is especially fun because the last 8 kilometers are hard-packed gravel. With no less than 55 hairpins, this giant offers some of the best views in Italy. Renowned cycling photographer, Jered Gruber, wrote a great piece on Finestre for Strava’s blog. Read it here.
While it’s always fun to cross these big ticket items off your bucket list, we’ve also included some lesser-known gems that may be even more spectacular than their counterparts. Climbs that may not be at the tip of your tongue, but once ascended, will live in your memory for eternity. Get ready to be awe-inspired by the Colle del Nivolet, Passo Vivione, Colle della Fauniera, Monte Crostis, Passo Manghen and many more. Over the course of two weeks, our mission is to introduce you to Italy’s most enchanting and challenging places to ride your bike.
One Big Italian Family
To complete this authentic Italian experience, we’ll conquer these awe-inspiring climbs with the help of one of Italy’s most legendary brands, Bianchi. Upon arrival guests will receive a ‘celestial’ welcome: an exclusive Bianchi gift bag, complete kit and a complimentary performance machine for the week – the Bianchi Infinito CV, one of the most hotly reviewed bikes of the year. As an added bonus, Bianchi has arranged to have several of their top end climbing machines, the brand new Bianchi Specialissima, on hand for guests to test ride on this extreme terrain.
Is This Insane?
Depends on who’s asking. Guaranteed, this will be the hardest 2 weeks you’ve ever spent on a bike. If you are that cyclist who can’t resist the intoxication of testing and breaking your limits, then what better way to try than a fully-supported, epic adventure backed by one of cycling’s most prestigious and time-tested brands. Between the world-class support of Thomson and the blessing of Bianchi, all you have to do is ride your bike. Everything else is taken care of. We’ve set you up for an extraordinary experience that will redefine who you are as a cyclist.
La Ruta Negra…once you go down this road, there’s no turning back.
La Ruta Negra #1 Italia powered by Bianchi
July 30 – August 13, 2016. $5895 per person