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July 12 2007 - Drive to Passo Falzarego


Ride Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella, Passo Gardenia, Passo Valparola


Today was the best weather we have had yet on this trip … crystal blue skies in the morning. It was still cold, but at least it wasn’t going to rain or snow! We decided that since Tom and I had ridden the Passo Falzarego a few days ago, we’d drive to the top to start today’s trip rather than riding.  This was probably a good decision as today’s ride was longer than what we’ve previously done.

As we were driving up the Falzarego, we encountered a roving band of sheep! Immediately, we all said that we needed to send the link to JP, as he’d probably enjoy seeing what we are doing. This would not be our last encounter with animals in the Dolomites today!

When we reached the  summit of the Falzarego, it was very cold and a bit windy. The views were still spectacular.  While here, we were able to answer the age old question: Do bears shit in the woods? Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence, but Tom and I know the answer! We changed into our gear, still wearing winter riding stuff and started the descent. 

While we were getting ready to ride, we spent quite a bit of time looking at a tram that runs from the top of the pass to the top of the mountain. This tram was exceeding high and we all decided there was no way we’d want to ride up there. If I’m not mistaken, the tram goes up to the old World War I bunkers where either the Italians or Austrians fought though a very cold winter.

It is very difficult to see in these pictures, but the small black spec just to the right of the highest peak in the picture is the top of the tram. The picture below shows a closer shot at the top of the mountain.

There are also a series of trails that you can hike through the entire Dolomite Range that passes through these areas near the top of the tram.

The descent down the Falzaredo into Arabba was very cold (I know, but it really, really was cold!), and it lasted for quite a long time. We saw a interesting castle, and lots of other cyclists. Irthink this side would be a much more difficult climb that the side we did from Cortina.

When we reached the valley, we took off most of our winter stuff and got ready for the climb up the Passo Pordoi. This was a nice climb, not too hard, lots of switchbacks and great scenery. The only issue was the number of busses and the difficulties that had navigating the tight turns. When we reached the top, we took some pictures and got ready for another really cold descent.

The descent was pretty well maintained and really was nice while we were in the sun. At the bottom, we got changed out of warm clothes again … (this is really a pain, but very necessary) and started up the Passo Sella.

After taking this shot, we headed up the pass, As we neared the top, Paul and I were passed by again by Bob and Carol  on their Harley. A little while further up the road, they took a few pictures of us as we were nearing the top.

Later at the top, we all took some more pictures together.

The top of the Passo Sella was crowed and very busy with activities. Tom and Paul made some phone calls, we chatted for a bit and then started getting ready to descend again.

The picture on the left shows the view back towards the Passo Pordoi from the Sella.

The picture immediately below is the famous Sella Group.

The last two pictures in this group show the view down that valley towards the town of Canezi.

Before we left, we had our second interaction with the animals of the Dolomites. We had a group of wild goats come for a visit. They were cool and there was even a baby there.  Before we left, the goats were even being playful with some kids.

From here, we descended toward the climb of the Passo di Gardenia. Along the way, we stopped to help a stranded cyclist from the Netherlands who had a flat. Unfortunately, our frame pump didn’t really work well and he had to wait for others to help. He did get it as he passed us later in the ride.

The climb to the Gardenia was really nice, very green and plush. It was also nice as it wasn’t too hard! The views were spectacular but it was quite crowded.

This view is looking towards the Valparola which is the last climb of the day on this route.

We did some long descending from here and frankly, we were getting a little tired so it was nice to get to the final climb of the day, the Passo Valparola. As it turns out, this was a longer climb that wouldn’t have been too hard except for it came at the end of a 52 mile ride that also crossed the Pordoi, Sella, and Gardena. Tom handled it fine and went on to the car ahead of us, but admittedly, Paul and I were tired and climbed slowly. It was nice to reach the summit. Oh and it was getting cold again!

Here are Paul and I at the summit of the Valparola. Tom was long gone back down to the Passo Falzarego where the Rental Van was parked and he could get warm again!

And finally, the last descent back down to the Flazarego.

We returned to the van and rode back to the hotel. After dinner we got gelato again and turned in early since it was a long day. Tomorrow is our last day in Cortina. I think we were definitely ready for a change, but this was a neat place to visit.

There seem to be many camps for kids during the summer here. Each place we’ve ridden, we’ve seen kids being dropped off by their parents for hiking, or other daytime activities.