The Dolomites!...Once you’ve ridden these mountains nowhere else will do (except maybe Lake Garda!!!), you’ll be back again and again......we certainly have been! The roads, the landscape, the history and culture all make this place pretty addictive for cyclists. Maglia Rosa Cycling will be in the Dolomites for three weeks from 21st July to 11th August 2018. We have some exciting and spectacular rides planned.
Here’s a sample of the exciting options we have open to us from our base in Corvara, Alta Badia
Get a feel for your surroundings on the Sellaronda. We will ride the 4 passes encircling the Gruppo Sella, this route is a famous one and justifiably so. It’s one of those must do rides, one of the most spectacular rides in cycling (I should mention that “spectacular” is a given here - just riding down to the shops is spectacular!) It’s not a long route - 55km, with close to 1800m of climbing, including the hairpin heaven that is Passo Pordoi with it’s 33 “tornante”. The Pordoi twists and turns through lush alpine meadows with the Gruppo Sella towering above like a giant cathedral. Being a circuit the Sellaronda can be ridden clockwise or anti-clockwise and it’s character is very different depending on the direction chosen.
Heading out of Alta Badia into the Dolomiti Bellunese we will tackle the Passo Giau. This is my personal favourite, it just has everything I want from a ride in the high mountains - 29 hairpin bends, not too hard/not too easy, magnificent views and a thrilling descent.
The classic approach is from Colle Santa Lucia, although the climb from Pocol is also a fantastic ride. Whichever route you choose the distance is around 10km and the vertical ascent is around 1000m, I’ll let you work out the average gradient!
As we start the climb from Colle Santa Lucia the gradient immediately bites. Double Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso described turning onto the Giau as being “like a slap in the face!” The road twists and turns through forest alongside a mountain stream or “torrente”, gradually moving into alpine meadow until the view opens up and the dramatic dolomite spires of Monte Averau and the Nuvolau Alto reveal themselves.
At the summit the panorama is breathtaking - to the west there’s the Sella group, Monte Civetta and the Marmolada and to the east, looking towards Cortina d’Ampezzo, you have Monte Cristallo, the Tofana group and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo all laid out before you.
The Marmolada and Passo Fedaia
The massive ridge of the Marmolada is the highest in the Dolomites, it is composed of several summits with Punta Penia the highest at 3,343m. Passo Fedaia traverses below, from Caprile to the town of Canazei in Val di Fassa. As usual there are two routes to the Pass, however, the classic approach is from Caprile. I’ve ridden this route many times but only once without unclipping from the pedals, there are a couple of reasons for this:
2. Serrai di Sottoguda, this amazing detour takes you off the Fedaia road and through the village of Sottoguda into the Serrai, after which you rejoin the road to the pass and the serious climbing begins!
Anyway, back to the Serrai. This amazing 2.5 km long canyon carved out by the Torrente Pettorina is a natural wonder, along the way the path narrows in a few points and the sheer cliff walls appear to touch each other. In summertime it is open to walkers and cyclists (in the uphill direction only for us cyclists).
As I mentioned above, upon emerging from Serrai di Sottoguda and rejoining the Fedaia at Malga Ciapella, the most famous (infamous?) part of the climb begins!
I don’t know if the civil engineer that designed the road got bored with drawing curves or what, but the 3km stretch from Malga Ciapella to the Capanna Bill hut is dead straight with a gradient hovering between 12 and 16%, time seems to stand still riding this part of the hill!
When you finally get back into the hairpin bends you might expect the gradient to ease but that isn’t going to happen, if anything it gets steeper and continues for 2.5km until just before the pass where the road suddenly flattens and the suffering is over!
Here your efforts will be rewarded with views of the Marmolada glacier and Fedaia lake.
Passo delle Erbe and Plöse and Val di Funes
Ok, here’s yet another unforgettable day out on the bike! We start with a downhill’ish run through Val Badia before the Passo delle Erbe begins in earnest. This is a climb of two halves, first half is reasonably gentle, then there’s a couple of km’s downhill before the road rises up steeply through the village of Antermoia and twists and turns it’s way up to the pass where the peaks of Sass di Putia dominate the view.
Descending from the pass through lush meadows, then enormous scree slopes beneath the Sass di Putia, then woods and again into open meadows, passing mountain huts with names like Halsl Hütte - it now feels even more Austrian than Val Badia.
From here we have options available. The circuit of the Plöse ski area - on one side a long sweeping descent with expansive views over Brixen/Bressanone and the valley and mountains beyond, then, as we start to turn back towards home we have a tough climb on small twisting roads not much bigger than a bike path back towards Passo delle Erbe.
Alternatively we have Villnöß or Val di Funes, perhaps the most beautiful valley in the Dolomites and one of the most famous. It is also the birthplace of Reinhold Messner - arguably the greatest mountaineer of all time. Descending the ridge before the village of St. Peter / San Pietro the view across Villnöß to the jagged peaks of the Geislerspitze is absolutely breathtaking!
As I mentioned up the page this is just a sample of the rides a Maglia Rosa Cycling holiday in the Dolomites has to offer. These mountains are such a perfect destination for cycling we are almost spoilt for choice. Amazing rides, incredible scenery, famous roads which helped create the sport’s history, great places to stop and refuel and pristine villages you can call home for a week or two ....... or three!