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

La Villa/Stern — Passo Pordoi — Passo di Gardena/Grödner Joch — Passo di Campolongo — Passo di Giau — La Villa/Stern (162 km, 4004 m up)

Maratona dles Dolomites – July, Sunday 6th


Some facts about the tour:

I cycled for 16 days and climbed 58624 m (which is 3664 m on average per day). It was 2381 km (which is 148.8 km on average per day). These figures are a bit lower than for the previous year, mainly because I visited more unpaved mountain roads (otherwise they would likely had been higher). It was between 10 (first day at the race it was much cooler in the morning) and 41° Celsius. The maximum speed was down the Kühtai pass at 91 km/h (new record for me). Steepest road I cycled was Ischgl-Viderjoch with several kilometres above 20%. Steepest road I did not cycle was down to Switzerland from Viderjoch, with ramps at 45% on average. I had thunderstorms, I had three punctures (one on asphalt and two on gravel), and a car incident in Schwaz, Austria (early on day 17 out of 21 planned days of cycling) where I got a fracture in the back and was hospitalized. (Fortunately, I fully recovered after 3-4 months.) I visited around 119 passes (106 new passes, with perhaps 100 officially recognized ones). The packaging weighed around 3 kg. My bicycle weighs all-in-all (with water bottle and tiny saddlebag) around 10 kg. I weigh 87-89 kg. I have 39/53; 12/27 rings. Shimano Dura Ace 9-speed. Michelin Pro Race 23” tires. HAC4 cyclocomputer. Click here for packaging list. Go to for my other tours and links to sites with more information and help for planning your own trip.

I arrived at La Villa, Alta Badia the day before the Maratona dles Dolomites. The journey from Sweden had been already very adventurous. I went by plane to Frankfurt and from there by night train to Bruneck/Brunico. In the middle of the night someone was silently getting into the wagon were I was sleeping and was about to slip out just as silently with all my cash (half of what I expected to need for 21 days). I had somehow forgotten to think about thieves, but luckily I woke up. He made a mistake and dropped the money on the floor so he had to bend down over me to pick them up and that woke me up. I was confused and thought it was the man across that was open and I was in a sleeping sheet (in the form of a bag), so he was long since gone when I made it to the floor. After searching around the many wagons on the train at 3 in the night for a long time I went to bed. An hour later someone else came along and claimed he and others had been robbed by this man and the train stopped in Munich and we went through the whole train with the police but could not identify the thief.

When we should change train just south of the Brenner pass, I managed to forget part of my luggage at the train station (my cycling shorts etc.). After a phone call they happily the sent the bags with the next train an hour later. In Bruneck I and my travel friend Ola Qvarnström (for the Maratona and one more day after) met up with my sister, Gudrun, and her boyfriend, Peter, who had been on a long holiday throughout the alps and other parts of Swiss, Italy and France. They helped us get the bike boxes up to La Villa and the place I had booked there in advance.


The whole place was filled with cyclists going in all directions all day that day. Lovely weather (it had been very bad just a few days before). We got a whole kit of all kinds of things including a cycling shirt and water bottle at the registration. We all had a nice dinner together in Corvara.

The next day Ola and I went up very early to be at the start in time (around 7 in the morning). It was very cold and I had my winter gloves on at the start, but never needed them later and I had my big wind jacket that surely did not make me look professional ;-). In a not so wise move I had asked about starting in the first group if possible and was accepted there with start number 91! This only meant I had company with the semi-professionals starting there up to Corvara. From there on I was passed by cyclists all the way until the last pass where I finally was among people that I could cycle away from. That was a bit discouraging. If it had been on flat land, rather few of these cyclists would have managed to get away from me, but here in the mountains it becomes embarrassingly clear who is good and not (and who is used to speed recklessly down the serpentines and not; and who was fit and who was a bit too heavy (like me)) ;-).

My goal was to get in under 7 hours and that I happily did at 6.30. My friend Ola got a better result than I expected (6.59), but then he is slimmer than me. We first went up the Campolongo pass and it was pretty steep even if not so long/high and then down to Arabba and I noticed that I was not really used to these serpentines yet and had to take care. Up the Pordoi pass was rather fun and then a very cold journey down to the road going up to the Sella pass in the shadows. Then speeding down the Sella pass with ambulances all around and up on the way to Grödnerjoch. Now I was beginning to understand I could just as well slow down a bit and make sure I fully enjoyed the event even though I obviously would not get a good placement. I took of the yellow raincoat and speeded down to Corvara on nice serpentines down the Grödnerjoch pass. Up the Campolongo pass again and then a fast stretch down toward St. Lucia were many took off on a shorter circuit. Then it was time for the toughest climb of the day – up the Giau pass with 900 m elevation and average inclination of 9%. Going slowly up is one thing, but competing up such a stretch is quite another! I was in bad luck (not enough experience I suppose) and got the cramps and nearly had to stop (I saw some others who had to stop and do exercises before they could continue). I guess I probably lost around 10-15 minutes (200 places perhaps) and had to creep really slowly up (slower than I would have done if I were just cycling up there an average day for no special reason). Up the Falzarego pass I was rather tired and a bit unhappy with how it was going. Up the Valparola I got a bit happier again as some strength returned (as it usually does to me eventually) and I was also sensing the end of the race and thus concentrated on completing the race as well as I could and raced away from all around me upon returning to Corvara. I finished at place 838 (278 in my category) out of around 7500 starting. (Case in point: I had overall rating up Campolongo at 618 and up the Giau 1595. If it wasn’t for the terrible performance up the Giau pass it looks like I should have been around place 620. Another time perhaps.)

Ola Q at Fam. Irsara

After the race I had real problems walking on my right foot and had to walk around without any shoes for a few hours. That was obviously one reason they changed to a new model at Nike, but there has not been much problems otherwise. It is in extreme conditions like this when the material you have really gets tested though. In comparison to the bloody junk they are selling at Pearl Izumi these days (their ”top” model 2003 3d chamois are ready for the dustbin after two months of use and you can get some really nasty sores in your back with them), then I am very happy with the Nike shoes.

peter gudrun ola

In the evening we again had dinner up at another place in Corvara with my sister and boyfriend. Even though we had competed we were not quite as tired as the day before after the long travel trip. The next day was supposed to be some kind of rest day for Ola and me, but that is perhaps not quite correct to describe it as.

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