Riding the Old Rails - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

October 15, 2019

Riding the Old Rails

Sciaves to Cortina

Thankfully the post ride bevys last night sanded the rough edges of my grumpiness (I'm really sounding like an old man ... I won't bother to look in a mirror for the next few days to confirm it in the hope that it's just a passing phase). Anyway, a good night's sleep and we wake up to another perfect Alpine day, and a day we have been looking forward too as one of the 'pins' of the trip.

Today we ride into the Dolomites from the north. This section is reputed to be one of the most beautiful rides in Italy and we are excited to see it for ourselves. 

Once again, we have about 700 m of net climbing to do, gross will be  more than that, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the climb up to Toblach, and then the climb and descent into Cortina were along old rail lines and were more or less consistent 2 -3 % grades. Quite easy cycling with no lung busting climbs and multiple elevation gain and then loss valleys to go through.

It was also a Sunday, so there were a LOT of other cyclists out. Rant warning ... I used to rant about bottled water, and a whole lot more, but now I'm on to e-bikes. I italicised 'cyclists' as the vast majority of the people we saw were on e-bikes. Now if you're elderly (which means 10 years more than me) or have some physical impairment that means you would not otherwise be out on a bike, an e-bike is a wonderful thing. But if you are 15 years old 'barely' pedalling along with no hand texting you friend (who may be right beside you doing the same thing) then something is wrong!

Breath deep. Focus. Okay. That's gone now.

A lot of the folks on e-bikes fell into the 'need' group, and for the rest, I guess I'm just going to be like one of those old Penny Farthing riders.

Beautiful alpine country up to Toblach and then the ride south into the Dolomites is spectacular. I don't think my pictures really captured the feel as the valley is quite narrow and in a lot of shade making big panoramic shots difficult if not impossible.

We had a small world experience today too. Just after lunch in Toblach we ran into another touring couple who were stopped taking a picture at the same place we were. 

We haven't seen that many other tourers since leaving the Dresden / Prague corridor so we had a bit of a chat. Turns out Marielle and Martijn, a younger Dutch couple, were nearing the end of an epic ride from China back home (if you can call being 1500 km from home 'almost done'), They also had Rohloff's with belt drive (gear junkie at heart! if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry). Since they were Dutch and into epic tours, and had Santos bikes with the above kit, we took a chance and asked the classic 'Dumb Question' ... 'Do you know Hera? She's Dutch and has the same bike. We hosted her when she came through Canmore.'

This is the almost the  equivalent of telling someone you're from Canada and they proceed to ask if you know their Aunt who lives in Hamilton. 

Well, it turns out they do know Hera. So there. There is no such thing as a dumb question.

Made it down to Cortina and booked into a 'rustic' but very centrally located apartment for the next two nights. Great dinner out ... food good, not great, but this is Italy now so every place is pretty lively and you can't help but get caught up in it. That's what makes it great!

Song of the Day ... Mountain Song by Monsters and Men ... a live version made up in a field ... much like our trip is unfolding!!

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Clear blue sky as we set off at the crack of 9
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Still pretty chilly in the morning .. have to get moving
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... salami on the hoof ... quite curious little piggies
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once again, fabulous cycle infrastructure. Separate paved bike path all the way to Toblach
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It was Sunday so there were a lot of other people out using the paths. Lots of families, old and young like these two pulling a trailer with kids. I should add, almost EVERYONE was on an e-bike
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Our first site of the Dolomites as we approached Toblach
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... getting closer
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we had lunch in Toblach and then headed south into this! This section of the Dolomites is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, for good reason
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... and we are finally seeing some great fall colours
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As we were stopped to get this picture, we saw another touring couple doing the same. Marielle and Martijn (Dutch) are almost home after riding from China! After chatting a bit it turns out we are both acquaintances of a Dutch woman we hosted through Warm Showers ... small world!
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getting into the heart of the Dolomites north of Cortina
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Very impressive crags
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.. very steep valleys putting the whole valley in shade .. it was cool, in more ways than one
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Obvious why this is a climbing mecca
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beautiful still water and reflections. To a cyclist this means 'no wind'.
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Scott AndersonIsn’t this the most amazing terrain though? I think the Dolomites are my favorite range anywhere. Glad to see you’re getting such great weather so you can enjoy it.
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4 weeks ago
on the way down into Cortina on an old rail bed complete with tunnels ... is that a small train coming through?
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... nope, just Kirsten
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evening light starting to bring out some colour and contrast in the peaks
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looking south towards Cortina
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.. almost there, about 6 km's north of Cortina
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... about an hour before sunset looking south west as we arrive in Cortina
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Dinner last night at al Passetto. They had winter Olympic torches from almost all of the past games but Kirsten noticed that they did not have one from Calgary. She struck up a conversation with the owner about this and he said that he’d get right on it!
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Another one for the record books. A day off tomorrow for a real rest day!
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Today's ride: 92 km (57 miles)
Total: 1,739 km (1,080 miles)

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