Today was the day before the Maratona dles Dolomites race and my friends had decided to relax in order to be fit for the race. I was not down in the Alps with my bicycle in order to relax from cycling, so today was another ambitious cycling day for me. I cycled up to Corvara and went over the Passo di Campolongo (1875m) as a change to taking the road over the Valparola pass and to take a photo there.
It was nice sunny weather and it would stay that way all day. I continued down the nice road from Arabba to Pieve di Livinallongo and continued on the same road as I would on the Maratona the next day until Selva di Cadore (1314m). From here I went south to climb the Forcella/Passo Staulanza (1770m). This pass is quite hard on the south side and it was thusly used in this year’s Giro d’Italia. I also wanted to go up that side, but had figured out before going to bed the day before that there was no way to do that and at the same day visit Passo di Costalunga/Karerpass and back to La Villa again. This last pass I had also planned to go over from west, rather than from the east. But this was before I changed plans and went with my friends on another route than planned yesterday.
The northern climb to Forcella Staulanza is easy. The road drops a little at one place and then only gradually becomes a bit steeper. If one starts the climb in Caprile (998m) it would be a bit harder, but the direct road to Selva was closed in 2006 (maybe it will re-open again later). I took two photos at the pass height (the one here showing the sign and the northern side) and it seemed like it was quite nice on the southern approach. The northern approach was also nice. It took a long time before I understood where the road was heading – it is always a bit fun trying to guess where the road pass will be, unless it is totally obvious.
Since the direct road down to Caprile from Selva was closed, I had yet again to go over Colle Santa Lucia (2nd photo on the page is taken at the highest point on this road (1443m). At Caprile you will find water in the direction of the next pass on my route, Passo di Fedàia (2054m).
Passo di Fedàia is one of the steeper passes from the east in the area (it may be the steepest ordinary one). At Sottoguda I went into the village and stopped for a sandwich and Coca-Cola. Then I just went straight through the cobblestone paved main road to the entrance of the Sottoguda gorge, where you can cycle (but not use any motorised vehicle). It is a quite beautiful and preferable alternative to the main road (and you avoid a boring tunnel also). The road through the gorge then starts to get steep and from that point to the pass height it is most likely around 12% on average or so, which is quite steep. It is never more than around 16% though, but the are long stretches above 14%. According to a profile of the climb on the web it is more like 11% on average, which might be true.
Apart from the Sottoguda gorge it is not a very nice climb, strangely enough. It is moderately nice at the top around the dam. You will have best views up the Marmolada mountain and it’s glacier from the main road and not the road on the other side of the dam. (The only glacier in the Dolomites.) The area is quite nice but it is not very visible from this road.
I only stopped at the top for a photo and then went down the quick road to Canazei (1440m). I stopped just before Canazei for a Pepsi-cola. Then I rolled down the busy (and not very wide) car-filled road from Canazei to S. Giovanni/Sèn Jan (1323m). Here the eastern road to Passo (di) Costalunga/Karerpass/Pas de Costalongia (1745m) starts. It is a very good and twisting road. It is not very steep and before the pass height the road is completely flat for some kilometres, which surprised me.
A funny thing happened on the way up here. There were a lady in a car behind me that did not want to overtake me even when she could see there was no problem ahead, which reminded me of hopeless drivers in Asturias last year that also often did not pass by, but instead stayed behind for long times and causing me to get stressed and trying to go fast so they could go around more quickly. This is annoying. The funny thing was that a man standing by the wayside noticed this and waved at her to overtake me – I was surprised he understood the situation and that he cared (and it worked). Strange things happens in the mountains … .
I had wanted to go to the Nigerpass/Passo Nigra (1688m) which is only 6,5 km away from the Costalunga pass, but I looked at the clock and concluded that the risk would then be that it could turn dark before I got back to La Villa/Stern. The quickest way was to go back down the same way and up to Canazei again and so I did.
I continued the serpentine road up to Passo Sella (2244m), which was also the direction we would go in the next morning. So it was good I got a last minute inspection of the road before the race. It took some time to reach the pass but it did not seem very steep and difficult (max 12%, I think). Passo Sella is clearly one of the nicest passes in the Dolomites and it was nice being up this late there. Only problem was that it started to get cold outside now. I stopped for a photo and heard some odd Tibetan monk music sounds (the Maratona had a theme around Tibet this year) and it added a little mystique to the place.
Soon after the pass height, you can see a small asphalted road take off up the mountainside and that road goes over the old Passo Sella (2213m) (the one being used before the main road was built) and since this is technically a different pass (as it goes down a different valley to Canazei), I cycled up there also. The asphalt ends soon after the pass height. One could continue ahead on a cyclable gravel road to another pass visible ahead at the top, called Forcella di Rodella (2318m), but it was too late and a bit too cold for me to do this now. It was still nice weather though.
I cycled down to the crossroad where I took off up to Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch/Jëuf de Frea (2121m). The road down from Passo Sella was actually in a very bad state and I was glad to notice this before the race down there. I thought it was insane not to lead the race around the Sella ring in the opposite direction when it would have made the race much safer. I was not happy with this and hope they improve the road before next year’s race.
It was lovely cycling up via Sela de Culac/Kulatsch Sattel/Sella del Culaç (2018m) to Passo Gardena in the last of the sun for the day but I knew the downside would be a very cold descent from Passo Gardena. It was kind of fun with the totally abandoned road. Not a cyclist up here now despite that there were several thousands cyclists staying in the area. But who would be crazy enough to be out cycling all day before the race and turn up just before dark?
After some nice photos, I plunged down the serpentines to Corvara and thought about getting straight back to the pizzeria we had been to the evening before. I stopped there, but it turned out to be a waiting line for 45 minutes and I was freezing, tired and sweaty. I learned that they closed the kitchen late and decided to get down to La Villa and get a shower and change clothes and cycle back up again (in my not much warmer shirt and shorts and thin wind jacket, thankfully). So I got back there and tried to park my bicycle so I could see it (there are more thefts of bicycles in connection with big amateur events like this). I had more or less the same lasagne, pizza and dessert as on the evening before.
I think my friends had went to bed before I came back, but rather than go to bed (I cannot sleep before midnight usually), I went down to a nearby pub and had some beers and wrote my postcards and then talked a little with some locals who would be helping out in the morning with the race and they had to go up earlier than me. I said I would probably be among the 800 fastest and they doubted it a bit, thinking that it would be difficult.