Riding bikes has been my passion for a very long time, and every once in a while I get to ride in places I’ll never forget. This trip was one of those, not only because I got to ride in two different countries but because of the beauty of each one of these spots. The Dolomites are spectacular and are actually part of the Giro de Italia every year (on the road that is).
The first stop was Madrid. We drove north of the city towards the mountains to a place called La Pedriza, which in Spanish means “the rocky place” and rocky it was. We climbed over 1,000 m in 38 km in the 32 degree sunny weather, needless to say it was dry and dusty, but super fun. The best part was that the trail starts right behind this castle built in 1475! That’s before Columbus discovered the Americas!
The day after that we (nine of us) flew to Bergamo, northern Italy and drove towards the Austrian border. In the past, this region was disputed between Italy and Austria and they battled it out, at some point the German language was banned and those who spoke it were punished, but nowadays people from that region speak both, Italian and German. The town we stayed at is called Selva di Val Gardena (Wolkenstein in Gröden) and we were there from Saturday to Saturday. The first day we did some climbing (google via ferrata) and the next five days we rode bikes. There are still places where you can see the old rock buildings destroyed during WWI, and in fact, the via ferratas were installed by soldiers crossing those mountain passes during the war.
Each night the guides plan the trips depending on your skill and fitness level, and they group you accordingly. The average distance per day was between 40km and 60km with elevation gain of over 4,000 m, and basically you go from one valley to another one, riding all kinds of trails, but the majority of them are fast, rocky and loose. Not a lot of man-made stunts, mostly natural trails. This area is very popular during winter and they have chairlifts and gondolas everywhere that go up to the top of the Alps. Sometimes you take the lift to get to the other side and then ride down to the next town, so we rode Santa Cristina, Passo Gardena, Kolfuschg, Corvara In Badia, Plan de Gralba and Selva Wolkenstein.
Some trails are very exposed, one booboo and you tumble down the hill for a long time. But that means that the views from up there are simply unreal. The key to a good riding trip is what guide will take your group, some guides are fun, social, good photographers and fast on the bike, some others are just the opposite. One of the guides in our last day was slow that two of us had to ride in front of him, so we didn’t get any pictures that day.
Every day after the ride you have to clean up your bike, fix whatever is needing some love and then you sit down under the alpine sun, having a beer (or a Coke zero in my case) with some snacks. Such is my idea of a vacation.