Cycling the Mighty Mortirolo
Lance Armstrong said of the Mortirolo, “It’s a terrible climb…it’s perfect for a mountain bike. On the hardest parts, I was riding a 39×27 and I was hurting, really hurting. (Mortirolo) is the hardest climb I’ve ever ridden.”
The Mortirolo climb starts at Mazzo di Valtellina and is 12.4 kilometers long at an average of 10.5% (height gain: 1300 m), the maximum gradient being 18%. While there are several ways up this mountain, the Mazzo route is the hardest.
Let’s ride it! The trusty Ritchey Breakaway and I start in Mazzo di Valtellina, which is about 25k south of Bormio. Mazzo di Valtellina is tiny and there are signs to the climb. You cannot get lost.
Soon you meed the signs that indicate how many turns to go to the top. The following pictures tell the story. There isn’t much to say other than it’s steep both up and down. The ascent is very hard and the descent is very sketchy due to the tough incline, the rough and narrow road, and the slick pavement when it’s wet like it was on the day I rode it.