In 12 kilometres the road climbs 549 metres in height and can be divided into three main stages. The first includes 2.4 extremely challenging kilometres that must be cycled using very low gears (we suggest 39/28 in.). It then continues for 2.5 kilometres through a series of climbs and descents in and out of the forest. Finally, in the last 4.5 kilometre stretch the road climbs fairly regularly and mainly through the forest: here we suggest 39/23 inch gears. The road surface is all right and the traffic scarce. One water fountain can be found 2 kilometres from the start (but it is on a slope and often dry), and another in Mangona. The average time it takes an amateur cyclist goes from 40 to 50 minutes, while an excursionist may take from 1 hour to 1’15”.
There are hardly any climbs that a cyclist fears more than the Valico della Crocetta. If we take a look at the numbers though, it’s hard to understand why that is: it isn’t one of the highest passes (817 m.a.s.l.), the average gradient is definitely not arduous (4.6%), and the length (12 km), though considerable, is certainly not extreme. The fact is that these numbers don’t tell it all. They don’t, for example, reveal the fact that a 2.5 kilometre stretch of the route climbs at a gradient of 10% with peaks that touch 15%, which calls for considerable strength and is certainly cause for worry for poorly trained athletes.
The tour leaves Barberino di Mugello and runs for 1.5 kilometres along the road that goes to the Futa Pass. It then turns left towards Montepiano. The road narrows but it remains level and we continue past the Stura river.
Once past the bridge that crosses the Torrente Aglio (2.7 km), we reach the ascent. It’s immediately challenging with gradients of about 10%, which decrease slightly near the underpass of the Autostrada del Sole motorway, but rise sharply again. From 3.5 to 4.7 kilometres from the start of the tour the slopes are extremely difficult (touching gradients of 15-16%) and therefore require great strength and low gears. At 5.1 kilometres the road finally levels, and 200 metres later it dips for a stretch.
Two kilometres of climbs and descents follow until we reach the town of Mangona (7.5 km, 500 m.a.s.l.). From here the road starts to climb again. This time the climb is regular with slopes that are less challenging (average gradient of 7.7%) until we reach the road sign that states the confines of the province (10.7 km). Here the climb becomes more gentle (4-5%) and once through the thick but small forest we finally reach Valico della Crocette (12 km) at 817 metres above sea level. Three more kilometres of descent take us to Montepiano.
A round trip is possible if we descend from Montepiano to Prato, to Calenzano (be careful of the traffic!!) and then back to Barberino via the Passo alle Croci (about 72 kilometres). We might also choose the road that goes from Montepiano to Castiglio dei Pepoli, then turn after a couple of kilometres at the intersection for Monte Tavianella and the Bocca di Rio Sanctuary, climb up through Roncobilaccio to the Futa Pass and back down to Barberino. Though it is shorter (about 50 kilometres) than the former course, it is more challenging and consequently offers the cyclist a spectacular itinerary.