Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 1 in the Dolomiti cycling like the fool I am.

Emily and I spent the day yesterday traveling to Ortesei, where we are spending 5 nights in a wonderful hotel.  We stayed here last year, and between the food (incredible), the service (personal and outstanding), and location we decided to return.  Last year I took a break from riding and hiked.  As I prepared for the trip this year, I found myself really wanting to ride the roads here, as they looked spectacular.  5 of my teammates took part in the Maratona de Dolomiti, which is right where we are, and they talked about how amazing the cycling is.  The also warned that it is truly either up or down, there is no flat riding or slight hills.  Well, I found out today that they were right.

I picked what I thought would be the easiest of my planned routes, but it was pretty tough.  Around 7000 vertical feet of climbing and 7400 descending (the bike rental was 400 feet higher than the hotel) in 45 miles made for a demanding day.  All in all, it was truly great.  I am recovered, have had a cafe and food, and am feeling tired, but great now.  The rental bike worked fine although the brakes were squeaky to say the least.  All 4 passes were tough, but super scenic and fun to ride.  The route is famous in cycling circles, and I saw many, many cyclists on the road.  Only the 3 Germans and one pro team passed me, though, which made this old man feel pretty good.  Rather than doing the usual description for the day, I thought I would throw out some of my favorite impressions of the day.

The views were simply incredible.  This place is awesome for scenery.  Right when I was thinking I would need to buy some water, I saw a beautiful fountain in Arraba, and met the 3 Germans who passed me on the Passo Pordoi.  The Passo Pordoi had a sign at the start for 33 switchbacks!  As you climb, you start to see little monuments for each switchback counting down to 1 from 33.  Only a full 180 degree minimum counted as a numbered switchback.  On the way up Passo Pordoi, a Cannondale team car passed me, then 4 cyclists riding behind a motorcycle who was obviously pacing them.  They passed me like I was standing still - that is what the pros do.

On the way down from Passo Pordoi, there were 26 numbered switchbacks, which let me know where I was in the descent.  The climb to Passo della Sella had 18 numbered switchbacks, and as my energy was flagging at this point, it was encouraging to see the countdown to the top.  I had read that the Passo Pordoi was called the "graveyard of champions" due to it's history in the Giro.  I now understand.  Well, basically a great fun day.  What a privilege it is to have the opportunity to live the life I am right now.  I am loving it.  Ciao.

45.5 miles in around 4 hours for an average of 11.5 mph with 7000 vertical feet climbed at an average temperature of 78.  Wow!

Sella Rondo - 4 pass loop in the Dolomites - tiring, but fun by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A view on the first climb to the junction for either
Passo Gardena or Passo Sella.

A view from Passo Gardena.

The view from Passo Campoluongo.

The fountain in Arraba.  I met 3 German cyclists there
and talked one into taking the picture.  Italian was the 
common language.

What a cool little hut at the top of the Passo della Sella,
Thankfully the last pass of the day.  I was getting beat 
right about now.  

A view back of the climb just completed at Passo Sella.

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