After the carefully unadvertised challenge of yesterday’s ride, today was very sensibly scheduled as a rest day in the lovely Hotel Gran Ander (worth staying there for the breakfast alone–and that’s not even considering the views you have while eating breakfast!)
Naturally, the weather did not cooperate. It looked to be a lovely day, with an ominous change the following day. It was suggested that anyone who was interested might do a rest day ride, and then a ride day rest.
The smart thing would have been to rest. So I compromised. Instead of riding the whole Sella Ronda route that some were doing, I just rode over the Passo Gardena, up the Passo Sella, and then back.
Three passes in the Dolomites does not make for a restful ride–and yet, they do. The ride up the Gardena from the direction of Corvara is wonderful. Once you make it through the traffic of Colfosco, you start a marvelous series of switchbacks. The way they are nestled in the curve of the mountains, the moments of respite they give to the climb, and the views that unroll from them, are all sublime. I feel like just about everything in the Dolomites is a favorite of mine, but this ascent of the Gardena is a more favorite among favorites.
Then the ascent up the Sella from Passo Gardena is one that I hadn’t done yet. I was looking forward to it, because the same road can present very different views and experiences just by being ridden in the opposite direction. And I knew that climbing up would be worth it if only to be able to descend that stretch of road again, which is–you guessed it–one of my favorite descents.
The climb back up the Gardena from that side really isn’t much–just a few hundred feet of non-steep elevation gain, a flat section, a little more non-steep climbing, then done. From the top of the Gardena it’s 11 miles downhill to Badia, with just the briefest moments when touching the pedals becomes necessary.
In light of how these separate pieces of the ride just entice one on (or at least, me), the ride really does start to seem like a rest day. Physically, it’s not, but mentally, the beauty and enjoyment do provide refreshment. (As did the post-ride shower, beer, food, and lying prone…)
On the way back, I stopped in Corvara with Kerri for coffee and a little cycling glove shopping. It is always great to spend time with her, but I was especially glad of the company when we started rolling toward Badia again, and a bee flew into my helmet and stung me! First bee sting I’ve ever had! I much appreciated her kindly pulling the stinger out of my forehead for me, seeing as how I couldn’t see it.
And you never know what vocabulary might come in handy–back at the hotel, I was very pleased with myself to know the Italian for “ice” and spent the afternoon looking rather dramatic with an icepack to my head.
Day 6, Gardena, Sella, Gardena: 36.4 miles, 5,000 feet.