After a wet introduction to the dolomites yesterday, we were all a little relieved when we woke to relatively clear skies this morning. On the menu today were the Passo Giau, one of the toughest climbs in the region (9.7km @ 10%) and the less difficult passo Falzarego. The first 20km of the ride were a welcome downhill roll to Santa Lucia (except for the 3km warm up climb just after the turn onto the SP251). After a coffee in the small town we set off for the Giau summit. This is a tough but very beautiful climb averaging close to 10% for an hour or so. Once the summit is reached you are rewarded with superb views and an even better descent down to Pocol. From here a left turn takes you straight onto the passo Falzarego, 10km at an average of just 5.2%, but the numbers hide the truth as a virtually flat 2km stretch brings the average gradient down. The Falzarego is another stunning Dolomiti summit and today's ride would be hard to beat for scenery, even considering the incredible vistas we have seen in the past 3 weeks. We have only two riding days left before the tour finishes. Tomorrow we will see the mesmerising Tre Cime and Saturday we take on the brutally hard passo Fedaia. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye to these beautiful mountains and I already cannot wait to come back.
Our first day of rain greeted us for day one in the dolimites. Too much for some, only eight riders set off to tackle the mighty sella ronda. The first two passes (we traveled anti-clockwise from Arabba) were wet and a little cold, not much was seen at the summits of the passos Campalongo and Gardena. However as we desended Gardena and started to climb the slightly steeper passo Sella, the clouds began to clear, revealing some dramatic views of the incredible Sella tower. After descending the passo Sella and with the weather on the improve, we decided to head down to Canazei in order to tackle the full climb of the famous passo Pordoi.
After 13km of climbing, stunning views and a wonderfully consistent and flowing climb, we all reached the summit justifiably proud of the achievement. Somehow we had packed almost 2,700m of climbing into just 65km, even without a Strava elevation correction, all in all an incredible day on the bike.
The mighty Gavia has been made (more) famous due to the exploits of Andy Hampsten, who famously climbed and descended the pass in a blizzard in 1988 to win both the stage in Bormio and the Giro. I have had the pleasure of climbing this amazing mountain before and after a second run today, I must say it now ranks as my favorite Italian Pass (but stay tuned).
The Gavia is not quite as high as the Stelvio and not as beautiful (in that classic kind of way), but oh my goodness it is wild and raw, enough to make four of our group baa cyclist feel that they are achieving something extraordinary. Having climbed it previously in perfect sunny weather, I was was thrilled to get the chance to ride it in cloud and fog (others may have preferred to sun for their first ascent). In many ways it is the way it should be and at times whilst climbing from Ponte di Legno I could barely see 20m ahead......so cool!
The classic side of the Gavia from Ponte di Legno is a very difficult cllimb but four of our group managed to scale both sides in the day and I could not be more proud of them. One for the cyclists bucket list forw!
Brian Bubba Cooke
Exercise Physiologist, coach & cycling tragic for 30 years. Love the freedom, reward and sense of achievement that one can only experience in our amazing sport.