A bicycle ride with Mattia
This itinerary is 28 kms long, with 800m gradient and inclines of above 8% at times.
Our departure point is the FS railway station of Taggia-Arma, situated half way between the historical centre of Taggia and the Arma di Taggia seaside resort. Leaving the station parking lot behind, we turn left towards the roundabout that leads us to the SP 548, in direction Taggia-Triora. Once we join the provincial road, we find the Argentina river on the right and a long straight road ahead (for about 2 kms) in a slight, almost imperceptible ascent that will lead us towards Taggia. The road is very wide here and when taking the car speed limit into account (90 km/h) it will be necessary to pay attention, particularly in the first section around the Shopping Centre. Then we reach Taggia and enter the residential area before the Roman Bridge appears on the right. If you forgot to fill up your water bottle before departing, you can turn left and find a fountain next to the Taggia Elementary School. Leaving the Roman Bridge behind, the road incline starts to change and although we continue on a slight slope towards the hinterland of the Argentina Valley, we sometimes find short spurs that are rideable without having to change gear and are useful if still we need to break a sweat.
After 2,5 kms we encounter the first bridge on the Argentina river, immediately after the road climbs slightly and when we pass the second bridge which takes us again to the left of the river, we face the first difficult section of the day, a severe spur of about 500m at 5/6 % gradient which can be a good test to our fitness today. At the end of a short straight section, a bend to the right which takes us in front of the San Giorgio stone quarry brings the first short hill to an end, the gradient starts to decline then goes up again and takes the shape of a slight slope past Campo Marzio. From here we can regain and maintain a constant speed for about 2,5 kms. As we approach the Vignai-Bajardo intersection, the road will start to climb again with two spurs, spaced out by an easier short section that eventually takes us to Badalucco. Once in the village you will find no steep sections going through. After Badalucco (you can find two fountains in the village centre, one next to the Roman Bridge on the right and the other just before the state Forestry Authority, also on the right), the slight slope that we found at the bottom of the valley reappears for about 1000 m all the way to the Montalto Ligure intersection where we can choose between an easy (but boring) option or a more challenging (and more stimulating) one. The first (on the left) is the continuation of the slight slope and takes to Agaggio Inferiore without any great difficulties, always flanking the Argentina river bed, while the second (on the right), the one I invite you to choose, imposes a 3,5 km ascent before reaching a relaxing descent and will also take to Agaggio Inferiore where the two roads meet again.
We decide to take the road on the right and the hill starts immediately. Within 200m we have the opportunity of filling our water bottle (a fountain on the right can be found by the first few houses in Montalto Ligure), then it will be a steep ascent for over 3 kms: this slope, known by cyclists as the “Dam hill” (in memory of a dam that was never built) can be subdivided in three well distinct sections. The first segment is the hardest and longest: for about 2,1 kms the gradient is almost always the same at around 5-6% and does not allow any space for resting. The second segment is less difficult and is made up of a slight slope of about 900 m that takes us closer to the final part of this ascent: a series of bends at 3-4% that will lead us within 600m to the top of Dam hill. This spot can be easily recognised as here we encounter the intersection with the Glori hamlet. Following this intersection a bend on the right puts us on a descent and we have 2,2 kms to rest our legs. Although the gradient is not high in this section, it will still not be possible to stop pedalling altogether. We reach Agaggio Inferiore where we meet with the road we left behind in Montalto and while going through this hamlet, a small spur (at the bottom of which there is another fountain on the right) will remind us that in this valley one never gets bored while riding a bicycle. Thereafter the road is on a slight slope sometimes interrupted by short hills of about 10 metres in length (before and after the Ferriera area in particular) which get us closer and closer to the mountain. The last spur of the day (we can say that because the final section is a proper ascent!) takes us to the Andagna – Passo Teglia intersection (a well-known area for hill lovers as it consists of 12 km of tough ascent at an average of 7,7% gradient). From here there is a flat section for about 1000m that takes us to Molini di Triora. We enter the village centre after passing the Colle Langan – Colle Melosa intersection (close to that intersection we find one of the most popular fountains for cyclists in the valley) and another intersection for Andagna – Passo Teglia on the right. We cycle through Molini di Triora and when we pass the last village houses we approach the final difficult section of the day, the most important: 5,2% of average gradient. A number that should not be underestimated as the hill here is rather irregular! The first few 100 m certainly make it difficult for us with a gradient that reaches over 9% until we reach the bridge over the Capriolo river.
Immediately after the bridge the hill becomes easier ( around 5%) and more regular until we pass the Corte intersection when we encounter an easier segment. In fact for about 500m the hill is slightly less difficult (4%) and we can enter the municipal territory of Triora without too much effort. As soon as we are in Triora however, the slope gets more difficult again with 1 km at 5% before a couple of wide hairpin turns which represent the final less difficult segment of this hill. At about 2 km from the top, the road climbs for the last time and the gradient is about 10% for about 200/300 metres, then the hill remains at a constant 7% gradient to the end with tough small sections at the beginning of Triora and in the very final part of the hill. We leave the tough ascent completely behind when we reach the Loreto-Realdo-Verdeggia intersection. The final 200m (slight slope at 2% with fountain available by the Carabinieri barracks) towards the Erba Gatta Restaurant is a relaxing pedal that allows us to regain our breaths before we take a seat at a table and we visit the Witches’ village!