75km at 2,600m climbing
A shorter ride, under 80km, but takes in both sides of the San Lorenzo pass, with both sides deemed an Hors Category climb.
From Casa Qurios, descend down to the main road and take a right, down the valley which is a great warm up. After 5km or so, take a left, signposted Taverga, and follow the steep sided valley. The huge rock faces tower above you as you wind along smooth roads on a steady angle. The prevailing wind is normally behind you here so you should get a nice helping hand on the drag which is slightly steeper than it looks.
Reaching San Martin, take right at the roundabout and continue straight on. After a few kilometres of rolling flat the climb starts proper. And boy does it hit you. The angle just does not relent below 9%, at all, ever. It is a real brute that I underestimated. And the road is psychologically tough – few switch backs, and you can see the road stretch on up the valley as it cuts through the tree covered slopes. It doesn’t relent until the final few metres – even the last few turns are steep. The views at the top are breath-taking. I shared the view with some cows and horses. I didn’t see a single car or bike on the ascent.
Drop down the other side and you’re treated with an aggressively fast descent, dropping like a stone on pristine tarmac and wide sweeping bends. At the bottom, which comes very quickly, take a left and 50m on the left there is a bar for a coffee, coke and re-fills. I was on a time limit so rather than doing a loop (you can keep going up the valley and take a left much further up) I decided to attack the San Lorenzo from this side. Marginally physically harder (with angles above 17% in places), I found it mentally easier – partly as a sense of knowing how far you’ve got to go, and partly the changes in angle, a few drops and turns give some relief to already tired legs.
After just under an hour’s climbing (my time for both sides was very similar, 55 minutes each side) you reach the top again. Then hold on for the descent – fast, open roads, no cars – it felt like a closed road race. Incredible, memorable, exhilarating. Then just coast back down the valley, and at the t-junction take a left back up to Casa Quiros. A simple but punishing ride!