The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club: Someone yells “Stop!”, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: Only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: One fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: No shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: Fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.
Replace Fight Club with Passo di Giau and you’ll have an excellent description of what awaits you. Because in our Maratona film, Giau is Tyler Durden, the protagonist and “inventor” of Fight Club.
The first rule of Passo Giau is: you do not talk about Passo Giau. If you’re walking around the village in the days before the race, you’ll find that no one wants to talk about Giau because everyone fears it more than any other climb in the Maratona.
The second rule, then, is: you do not talk about Passo Giau.
The third rule of Passo Giau: if someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. There’s no shame in giving in for a moment while climbing Passo Giau. You won’t be the first and you won’t be the last.
Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Just you and the climb. The other 9,000 don’t count. It’s between you and the mountain.
Fifth rule: one fight at a time. Divide it kilometer by kilometer; find reference points. Play psychological tricks on yourself, otherwise it’s over.
Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons. In the sense that you can’t cheat and there’s no help. Giau is an honest and pitiless judge of your preparation.
Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. We’ll see what happens on Strava, but on Giau at the Maratona you have to take the time you need, without overdoing it. Otherwise you’ll pay a very high price.
And the eighth and final rule: if you’re on the first ramps of Passo Giau, you have to fight!
The last rule in particular is always, infernally, true. Because Giau is a 9.9-kilometer climb with a 9.3% average gradient. But the first 2 kilometers are really brutal. This is how Giau welcomes you. It’s like if someone invited you to their home and, after opening the door with a smile, welcomed you with a couple of slaps. This is a bit how it feels when you attack Giau.
The progression is fairly constant, with the gradient almost always in double digits and very few opportunities to catch your breath. There will be four bridges, 20 meters long each, but you’ll probably look for a bit of relief thanks to those. And then more than 25 switchbacks to the top, where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful sights in the Dolomites. And it’s even better when you realize that the climb is really over.
Twice the Cima Coppi in the Giro, it’s been featured only eight times in total in the corsa rosa. Perhaps less than it deserves — this climb that, for us, with its difficulty and beauty, is one of the best climbs in Italy.
Returning to our film, Passo di Giau is Tyler Durden. Also because, if you think about it, like Tyler, Giau in reality does not exist. It’s just a figment of our imagination, a “monster” that stories (like this) conjure up for us but that in the end we always manage to tame. Try thinking about this while you’re climbing it. Maybe everything will be easier.
Or you could think about how there’s one of the best feed zones of the entire Maratona at the top. Choose whichever motivation you prefer.