Jerry’s Tour of the Dolomites and Central Alps 2003 – Day Five

Passo di San Pellegrino — Forcella di Pradazzo — Baita Segantini — Passo di Brocon — Passo Manghen — Molina (159.5 km, 4441 m up, 13-34 C, Max speed 84 km/h)

Forcella di Pradazzo

After just a short distance I arrived at Passo di San Pellegrino, which is not especially noteworthy. What is noteworthy is that you can reach rather high speeds down the east side and I was up to 84 km/h at least. After descending for a while, you reach a road going right, just as you begin to glimpse Falcade down in the valley between the trees. This is the road going up to the little higher Passo di Valles (2033m). It is a very evenly graded road with several hairpins in the woods and somewhat steep (up to 14% I think, but mostly around 10%).

Forcella di Pradazzo

Just as you reach Passo di Valles, there is a rather bad-looking gravel road going up to the right. This actually improves somewhat and is mostly fine to cycle on with a road bike, though I got my second flat on the way down back again. (A slow leaking puncture that I cycled down the Passo di Valles hairpins on – not recommended! ;-)) It is well worth the trouble (at least if you do not get a flat) to get up this not so long gravel road to Forcella di Pradazzo (2220m) as you will have much better views from there. The first photo is overlooking the dam you could continue down to and to the left of the dam is another supposed pass you could possibly cycle to (or walk only a couple of meters) above 2000 meter, but it is not too obvious to me from this view that it is a true pass, nor did I care to get down there, only to get back up again, but maybe you could get better views down the valley I cycled down from the Pellegrino pass (you could possibly also avoid the descent from the Pellegrino pass and the ascent to the Valles pass by walking up the path from down the east side of the Pellegrino pass, not that it would save you any time … ).

The second photo, taken in the direction of the Passo di Valles almost looks like a painting and shows clearly why the view is better up here than at the Valles pass (outside link to the wonderful Virtual Alps web site, but come back! :-)).

Baita Segantini

The puncture was bad, so I changed tube before going up the gravel road to Baita Segantini (Passo della Costazza). Wonderful sunny weather and many tourists walk up this gravel road from this side especially. I met three big monks walking down there, making the whole landscape seem even more pastoral. The views of the Cimon di Pala mountain and ridge are quite impressive. It is easy to cycle at first but eventually the road got so bad it might even be tricky to cycle at a few places with a mountainbike (loose big sharp stones, worse than macadam). You could (possibly) cycle some of last stretch up to the Baita Segantini (but it is not easy). In the first photo here you see where the stones are coming from! It was taken by a man from Merano, who had happened to work in my hometown (Gothenburg) in Sweden.

I also had a photo taken at the Baita Segantini with the Cimon di Pala in the background (it is so huge it was not possible to get all into the photo). It was nice looking back up here from the road south of the Passo di Rolle, that one comes down to on an almost perfect gravel road from Baita Segantini (so you road bike cyclists could go up this side only and back again to get to the pass (Passo della Costazza just by the Baita Segantini) and the nice views up there).

Baita Segantini

I continued down the nice and fast road in the Valle Cismon. Around S. Martino di Castrozza I saw an Agip petrol station and thought it was time to see if I could get my bike a bit cleaned up from all the gravel road experiences. The man there was extremely helpful and washed it for me so it was looking as new again (maybe not so good to use the high pressure water, but what do you do?). God bless Agip!! I got help from Agip petrol stations later on as well – I love them!

At Mezzano/Imer, I turned right and went over the Gobbera pass. This is a nice little pass that let you escape the increasingly heavy traffic and heat down in the previous valley. I went up the nice road to the Passo di Brocon (1615m) and while it is not such a high pass and the road is not very steep, it takes quite some time to get up there. It is nearly 900 meters up from Canal S. Bovo. The top is rather flat and not very exciting. I had an ice cream at the restaurant at the top and saw a brochure announcing a rally in the area and saw they reproduced some rather detailed maps in there. I talked a little to the one guy who understood any English and got the information that there was an alternative road on the south side that had been asphalted just because of this rally the day(s) before actually. I could not resists to try this road out and it was also a shortcut on my way to the Manghen pass. It was very nice indeed, but I should warn you that it was rather dangerous, with some very sharp curves on somewhat steep road. I thought it was somewhat fun that this route was marked as an mtb route as it had just the best of surfaces right now (the mtb route eventually took off on gravel though). There are some less than perfect bits on the older surfaced road further down the valley, but it is a nice alternative (even though wooded). You also miss out on at least one minor pass at Castello Tesino. You get down at Pieve Tesino just before Passo Forcella on the minor but very good road toward Strigno.

Passo Manghen

Passing through Scurelle (380m) and really hot down here in the valley. Stopped and ate something not so clever outside a shop in Telve (and did not feel too good for some time). I continued up the Passo Manghen road and was rather tired. It is a quite nice road, but it was a bit cold and a bit shady (should have been there earlier in the day). It is steeper than most passes in the dolomites (up to 14% at some places) and very long from Scurelle up (1667m).

I was very happy when I finally reached Passo Manghen and it offers some good views. The twilight was falling on the way up, but well at the top it got much lighter again. It is also quite steep on the north side and the road is narrower at first there. It is mostly wooded on this north side.

Now, I was only thinking of finding a good place to stay for the night as the dark was rapidly falling as I moved down the valley. I found a restaurant on the other side of the road not far above Molina and immediately stopped and they both had room and made dinner for me at good prices as well, so I was lucky again.

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