Location: SP81 Monno to Mazzo di Valtellina (14 miles)
Not a particularly high pass but one we rode because the keen cyclists amongst us wanted to see one of the great Giro d’Italia climbs – one which Lance Armstrong described in 2004 as the hardest climb he had ever ridden. We ascended from the south turning right off the SS42 towards Monno. The climb from this side is fairly gradual and pleasant. The descent towards Mazzo took us down the gradient that the Giro cyclists have to climb up. The climb up is about 7.5 miles long and climbs 1,300m at an average grade of 10.5%. The maximum gradient is 18%. We could easily understand what Armstrong was getting at. The road on this side is almost all single track and the hairpins are tight, hence the suggestion that you are better off riding down, rather than up, this side. If you are interested in riding this quirky pass but can’t find it on a map, look for the official name, Passo di Foppa.