The Nine Hills is not just a bike competition, but a myth that originated in the heart of Romagna, and grew to such an extent that it is followed throughout Italy.
The starting point is at Cesenatico, and it is a 202-km hand-to-hand combat against time and Apennine uphill, whereas the gentleness of the landscape clashes with the fatigue. Up and down, up again and swerving for about nine hours, lambasted by frenzy and adrenalin.
Just 40 years old, the Nine Hills race has never been better, attracting thousands of enthusiasts, amateur and professional bike lovers, and Italians and foreigners, to race or just to watch.
It started in 1971 with the first official edition through the initiative of the Fausto Coppi bike-tourism group founded in 1965 in the organization’s headquarters still today, a bar on the canal port designed by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1502 and which continues to be the main header of the city life of Cesenatico: since then a forceful crescendo of a total of 10,000 subscribed members, from all over the world.
The race is held yearly in May, inspired by the motto “Only for passion,” the last editions of which were dedicated to the Cesenatico champion, Marco Pantani.
The competition is structured in two different routes, a short route of 130 km, and a long one of 200 km passing through the attractive sites of the Romagna Apennines.
For the brave who are able to take the tougher route, there are precisely nine hills to be conquered: it starts from Cesenatico, passing through the hills of Polenta, Pieve di Rivoschio, Ciola, the terrifying Barbotto, Monte Tiffi, Perticara, Monte Pugliano, Passo delle Siepi, and Gorolo, defying the slopes and a gradient of 18% above sea level and reaching up to 3,840 meters, when finally the road turns back to Cesenatico, with the finish line on the seafront promenade in Carducci Avenue.
As to the others, the route is “light” covering four hills and a gradient of 1,871 meters.
However, it is certainly not an easy stroll altogether.
As we said, it is a myth, and whoever wishes to take the challenge will appreciate some advice: firstly, if you are not a lover of uphill climbs, you better not try. At Pieve di Rivoschio you still have energy. At Barbotto you will look deep in your heart and ask “why?”
The Nine Hills race today is a sportive reference point and the attraction it exudes is hard to resist. It is a test of determination, an effort soothed by the gentle beauty of the landscapes, but is also a simple pretext to enjoy the variety of food-and-wine products and beauty of the region, from the sea to the mountains, of the land of Romagna.