Sometimes the best things come by surprise. For me, Monte Stivo, a peak of 2059 m close to Lago di Garda, is one of them. I climbed it even though I had no intention whatsoever of doing it beforehand.
By all means, my trip started quite conventionally. I took off from Riva del Garda to Arco and continued via Monte Velo to Santa Barbara, which supposed to be the highest point of my ride. I learned before coming to Riva that the Monte Velo climb is perfect for someone on a family holiday. It is not so far from Lago di Garda so you won’t spend too much time riding it and it is steep and long enough to give you that feeling of satisfaction you get after completing a demanding climb. I was on family holidays so riding that one suited me quite well. The climb turned out to be superb. I am sure thousands of cyclist that did it before me would confirm. However, I doubt that any of them could say much about the things that came for me after. Most of them just go down one or the other way.
While I was casually refilling my water bottle from a tap at the finish of the climb I noticed a map of the surrounding area. Since I still had some time I checked the map for routes around and I found one that climbs way above the village. I decided to give it a shot and I started climbing again. After a while tarmac turned into gravel. A few stretches later, the gravel road I was riding turned into a rocky trail. I was forced to get off my bike but since I didn’t achieve any particularly interesting spot, the route led me through the woods, I decided to continue by hiking a bike. I was curious. The trail went steeply up.
I was passing hikers coming down. Most of them Italian, all of them friendly and surprised with my drop-bar suspension-free bicycle. A few of them tried to have a chat with me. It felt quite nice after days of riding among hordes of non-friendly bikers around the lake. Unfortunately, non capisco Italiana so the chats ended up with greetings only. Still, I had the sense that I am in a different world to the one in the lowlands. It felt good being up there.
When I reached the height at which trees do not grow I saw the peak of Monte Stivo. It was way above me. I could no longer push the bike but I felt that going down I would miss something. It was no longer about cycling, it was all about being in the place I wanted to be. I took the bike over my shoulder and carried it for something like 700 vertical meters straight onto the peak.
Physically, I was low when I got there. Thirsty, hungry, and dead-tired. Mentally, I was sky high. I felt that did something exceeding my expectations, something that broke my routine. I spent some time on the peak letting that feeling sink in. I knew going back down to Riva that my cycling would not be the same again.
Monte Stivo was a breakthrough for me. Have you had your Stivo already?