Șaua Dichiu to Piatra Arsă

October 03, 2018

At the beginning of this October I had the pleasure to return to another holy place for me as a cyclist: the climb from Sinaia to Piatra Arsă.

Why so holy?

Long story short, this is a HC(hors-categorie) climb, 21KM in length, with 5% average grade, taking you to around 2000M of altitude. This is not a walk in the park.

However, this is not the whole story - this climb has something very particular about it, something that always makes me a bit uneasy, even though I’ve climbed it at least 5 times and I know it well. This thing is its middle part (labeled 2 in the climb profile). This part is a 7KM long 7% relentless climb. By relentless I mean the climb is very uniform: no flat parts, no easy parts, no extremely hard parts.

dichiu-profile

For a beginner, this is a very tricky thing to ride(hard) because it is so easy to get in the red here.

Getting in the red is basically a failure to pace yourself up a climb, thus reaching exhaustion well before the end. The problem is that once you get there, there’s only one way out of it - reducing effort(easy pedaling). Now this doesn’t sound too bad: you push too hard, you blow out, you slow down, you recover, you continue, the end. Well… remember what I was saying about that climb being particularly steady - meaning there’s no place for easy pedaling there, basically the only option is to stop, which is particularly embarrassing.

Been there, done that(a couple of times), learned my lesson about pacing.

Why so holy for me?

This is the first big (alpine) climb that I rode and the first time I took a serious bite of suffering on a bike. I have some very contrasting memories about that day: the weather was perfect, the views were awesome, and I was feeling like shit - like I was going to puke and not being able to catch my breath for most of the time.

Now, 4 years later, I finally managed to be able to enjoy this thing.

So that’s all: pain and pacing?

Neah, of course I had to descend it: