Dolomiti, and Bolzano

Apart from the Strade Bianche the other region I had long wanted to ride was the Dolomites.  Not that I am any great climber but the scenery is just stunning and anyway, who doesn't want to dream of climbing like Alberto Contador?  I had expected a challenge in a different way to the Strade Bianche, and got it.  The first was that Bolzano is only the Brenner Pass away from Austria, and is more German speaking than Italian actually.  All signs are in both languages but speech is German first, Italian second.  Who knew that the ospedale (hospital) was actually a krankenhaus?  Fortunately we didn't need either.

The other challenge was riding a 20% climb for the first time, and walking up a 32% incline.  Many areas are 12-15%, such that a tiring 7-8% in flat old Florida comes as a welcome respite here.  We were fortunate to run into friends from Perth who knew the area well and with whom we rode the Passo Sella, and then gave us directions to Passo Mendola another day.  Many thanks again to Brian/Andy.

P6010433  The 'team' at start line for Passo Sella ride.  Note warm sunshine, but full fingered gloves.  

P6010437  On the way up, some stunning village scenery.  One almost expected Julie Andrews to come singing down the street with the Von Trapp children.

P6010448  Passo Sella behind the village of St Christina  I turned here at 6000' odd, the rest continued to the top and over.  Temperature up there dropped to 10C from the 27C in the valley.  Hence the full fingered gloves.

P6010453  A simple lunch really, in a very traditional bar.  The waitress heard that I had ridden 50kms to get there and insisted I go and eat at a full restaurant as she figured I needed a huge lunch to cope.  I told her a simple pannini was enough, but you can see the significant result that she conjured up  That, a coke, a macchiato and I was ready to go!

P6010459  Bolzano is so bike friendly they have double bike lanes everywhere.  Many extending 30-40 kms into the countryside.  In town the bike lanes even have their own bike lights!

P6010473  The boys memorising the route to Passo Mendola for the next day.  Clint was ready to ambush from behind the pot plant.

P6020475  Another Sound of Music moment on the way up to Passo Mendola.  The fields were full of fruit trees and grape vines.  Nary a brown leaf amongst it all.

P6020481  Ah yes, switchbacks.  If you ride as slowly uphill as I do you get to see the back of your bike as you come around some of the sharp turns.

P6020482  But we made it!  Hugging together to keep the cold and wind at bay on top of the passo.

DSC_0667  Remember bike friendly?  This is the only bike tube dispenser I have ever seen in a street.  Continental naturally, German made.

DSC_0682  My door fetish was upgraded with the addition of Misty as a special adornment.

DSC_0683  Saint Magdalen in the restaurant of the flowers.

DSC_0691  Night time fun with the girls.

P6010462  Another OMG moment.  The scenery takes your breath away.  This is smack in the middle of Bolzano as you cross the river to the suburb of Gries where we were staying.