Less than two-kilometres long, the climb presents an average 10 percent gradient that touches 20 percent in some spots. The ascent requires all the arm and leg strength we can muster, as well as the lowest gears, to avoid the greatest humiliation for any self-loving cyclist – that of having to get off one's bike and walk the whole way. After 15.3 km, fortunately the climb comes to an end and, continuing through the woods, we can “catch our breath” as we ride down to state road 302, Brisighellese-Ravennate. We merge into this road by turning left towards Florence. The road, which is wide and excellently paved, rises up at a 3-4 percent gradient through the Fosso di Polcanto. The traffic is constant and at 20.3km we reach Vetta alle Croci. Once across the pass, some 200 metres later, we turn right towards Bivigliano.
Again, we enter the woods, thick woods, and after a quick descent followed by a steep yet brief climb, we cycle gently uphill for a couple of kilometres through a pine wood. At 23 km from the start of the course, we reach the crossroad that leads to Monte Senario (3.7 km alternative route with an average 7 percent gradient, which suits more powerful cyclists! description from Vaglia) – on the top of which a convent bearing the same name stands overlooking the entire, incredibly breathtaking, Sieve valley.
We cycle towards Bivigliano, reaching this quaint locality, which stands at 600 metres above sea level (the highest point of today’s excursion), and at 26.4 km from the start of the tour. The town’s exceptional location, set among chestnut woods that dominate the Carza River valley, and its short distance from Florence make it an ideal place for anyone who wants to abandon the city smog and to commune with nature.