Auronzo di Cadore - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

September 25, 2018

Auronzo di Cadore

We were in for a shock when we left the hotel this morning - it’s cold outside!  The temperature dropped to 39 overnight, and is scheduled to be even colder tomorrow.  In Cortina a significant frost event is on schedule tonight.

We have a fairly short ride today and plenty of time, so we hang around the room a while longer than usual to let things warm up a bit.  And they do, a bit; but at 10 when we finally get rolling it is still quite chilly in the shade, and a bit windy.  A warmer layer is definitely called for.

Before leaving town we stop by the supermarket and pick up fixings for lunch - cheese, ham, bread, raisins, a few cookies.  We plan to change our model now that we’re in Italy and just have lunch beside the road rather than seeking out a cafe or bar.  With the heat and humidity gone we don’t think we’ll need to hide out and escape the midday sun for awhile as we did in Croatia.

Today’s ride generally follows the Piave all the way to our day’s destination in Auronzo di Cadore.  The ride will trend uphill all day, and we’ll be fifteen hundred feet higher tonight than our start this morning.  We’re working our way into the Bellunese Dolomites in quantum jumps: we gained about a thousand feet yesterday between Vittorio Veneto and Ponte nelle Alpi; another fifteen hundred today; two thousand more tomorrow on our ride to Misurina; and, if we have the legs for it, another two thousand feet to the base of Tre Cime di Lavaredo on the next day.  We have some cold mornings ahead.

Cold, but beautiful.  The sky is cloudless today, the visibility great, and we enjoy terrific views all morning long as we gradually work our way north and upriver.  We follow the Venice-Munich bike route all morning, spending most of the ride on either very quiet lanes or what appear to be newly completed, high quality paved bike paths.  This is a great time to take this ride, and it’s much more relaxing than I remember of our ride was going the other direction here in 1994 when we spent most of it on the highway.

At about the halfway point in the ride we stop in Rivalgo at a small, simple rest area beside the bike route.  Sitting on a bench facing the sun, we enjoy our bread and cheese and bask in the warmth.  It’s about noon, and it is finally beginning to warm up enough that we can take our outer layer off.  It feels wonderful.

Leaving Ponte nelle Alpi. It really does sit right on the threshold of the Alps. They rise before you as soon as you leave town.
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A few miles north of Ponte nelle Alpi, looking across the Piave from its quieter east bank.
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Longarone, the City of Gelato? Just Rachael’s kind of place, but what does this mean? Apparently, it’s roughly true. This village, as well as nearby Val de Zoloft, claim to be the originators of Italian ice cream.
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Climbing up to Longarone, following the Venice-Munich bike route through quiet lanes on the east bank of the river.
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This morning is the first that I’ve worn this layer since the tour started. It didn’t fully warm up today until about noon.
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There’s more to Longarone than just gelato.
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Looking back south along the Pieve toward Ponte nelle Alpi.
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We’ve crossed over to the busier west bank now, still following the Venice-Munich bike route as it skirts the less safe stretches of SS51. This all feels like very new development. The pavement is new, the bolts on the railings are still shiny and untarnished. This must be a much nicer ride through here than it was just a few years ago.
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An amazing ride, with the views getting more dramatic all day long.
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Lunch stop, at a pleasant little rest area in Rivalgo. It felt wonderful sitting in the sun, enjoying a cool breeze blowing up the valley.
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Moving north from Rivalgo, the route just keeps improving all the way to Pieve di Cadore.  We’re still on the Venice-Munich route, and it has some really wonderful sections of new bike path here that hug the cliffs just above the river.  The mountain views get better and better, until when we reach the high point south of Pieve they’re really incredible, breathtaking.

In Pieve we part ways with the bike route, which leaves the Piave (yes, I know Pieve and Piave are a confusing name pair; not my fault though) and veers northwest to Cortina.  Our road continues up the Piave, but for most of the way we’re on the highway now, and not really enjoying it so much - minimal shoulder, maximal traffic.  For a few miles it feels like we’re back in Croatia.  It only lasts for about six or seven miles though, and then we round a bend, Auronzo di Cadore comes into view, and our jaws drop.  The town lies along the north bank of the Piave, and is backdropped by an awesome crown of jagged peaks.  Between us and the town is the artificial Santa Catarina Lake, formed by a dam.  The lake is a surreal blue, reminding me of the unbelievable hue of Peyto Lake that we saw earlier this summer in the Canadian Rockies.  We walk out on the dam for an unobstructed look, and just stare.

We stop for ice cream on the way to our hotel, once again enjoying sitting in the sun.  What a splendid time to be here!  At the hotel, we debate a bit whether to go back out again and take a walk along the lake before dinner, but in the end we just hang out in the room.  We have another short day tomorrow, so we’ll save the walk for the morning while we wait for the day to thaw out.

Looking back at Perarolo di Cadore after crossing a large tributary of the Piave. We’re at the base of the day’s only sustained climb - the usual thousand feet in three or four miles.
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In Perarolo di Cadore. I think this is the parochial church of San Nicolò. I couldn’t find any information on it, but it’s quite unusual.
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The first of two large hairpins on the climb from Perarolo.
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And the second.
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A beautiful dramatic climb as we rise above the Piave and follow it through a steep sided gorge.
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We like tunnels, when they’re car-free and illuminated like this one is.
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Looking toward Tai di Cadore. As usual, I don’t know what this amazing range is.
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Looking east, across Pieve di Cadore (Pieve on the Piave). The mountains are astounding whichever way you look.
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I’ve lost track of where this is, but perhaps it’s in Pieve. This is the town where the route branches. One goes northwest to Cortina d’Ampezzo, and takes the Venice-Munich bike route with it. We continue northeast up the Piave, leaving the bike route and in exchange getting a few miles of narrow, shoulderless busy highway.
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A wier on the Piave, not far from Auronzo.
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Auronzo di Cadore, its lake, and a few peaks scattered about. Tre Cime di Laredo is in that mess somewhere.
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Ride stats today: 37 miles, 3,400’

Today's ride: 37 miles (60 km)
Total: 876 miles (1,410 km)

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Keith ClassenIt really is a spectacular area isn’t it?Glad you guys have clear blue skies to really take it all in ... albeit on the cool side. We also enjoyed clear blue skies on the Drau today.
Keith
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith ClassenIt’s stunning, alright. We’ve got a wonderful spell of clear weather that looks like it will hold for a few days yet - hopefully to see us through sella Ronda. This morning we’re going to leave our luggage at the hotel and (try to, at least) bike up to Tre Cime for the hike. I imagine we’ll freeze on the way down.
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2 months ago