UKH

Dolomites Bike Trip

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 madwud 30 Jun 2021

My climbing club is planning a trip to the Dolomites--staying in Corvara--mid-September. While they're climbing, I fancy riding a selection of iconic passes and famous circuits in the area. Does anyone have experience of finding groups to ride with and/or ride support services in this part of the world?

I don't mind riding alone--certainly don't want a fully prepared cycling tour. As someone once wrote, cycling up mountains is a socially acceptable way of being on your own. But neither do I want to get stuck half way round a long loop or up the Stelvio or the Gavia without having some support to get me back to base should the worst happen.

Is there anybody on here living out there who fancies hooking up for a ride or two? Do any tour companies provide an additional service for self-guided excursions, for a price, obviously, depending on location? If so, any recommendations?

Ta

 JLS 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

Between the Sella Ronde, Passo Falzargo & Passo Ghia there are plenty of nice loops to do from Corvara. Stelvio and Gavia would seem like a bit of a trek from Corvara. I've always been happy to ride around at my own pace so I can't help with groups, guides, etc.

 bigbobbyking 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

What is "the worst" that you are worried about? If it is mechanical failure resulting in the ride needed abandoned I suggest hiring a bike locally. That way if the chain snaps or something you can probably call the bike hire place and they will rescue you... 

 JLS 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

PS. The altitude and terrain does impact on the achievable ave.speed/mileage compared to uk roads, so certainly initially at least, I'd be a bit conservative on the length of planned route.

 madwud 30 Jun 2021
In reply to JLS:

> Stelvio and Gavia would seem like a bit of a trek from Corvara. 

Yes, indeed! I'd be driving so plan to go/return via Bormio. The Sella Ronde and the Giau are on my list. I also take your point about altitude. Elevation, too. I looked at a Bormio--Mortirolo--Gavia loop. Only 70 miles but 11,000+ feet in ascent!

Post edited at 13:26
 JLS 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

Yeah, Sella Ronde is only 30miles and 5,500 feet. Admittedly, I wasn't in great shape but I was only averaging 11.5mph at best on that terrain.

 madwud 30 Jun 2021
In reply to bigbobbyking:

Yes, a ride-stopping mechanical. I also ride tubulars, which is an added risk! One puncture I can deal with, two and I'm knackered.

I'd be fitting a new chain and tubs before I go plus taking a spare set of wheels. There's sense in your recommendation to hire a bike but I'm keen to ride my own. 

I could (cheekily) ask one of my non-climbing companions to provide a "rescue" service but just wondered if any bike rental setups offered "breakdown" assistance.  

 madwud 30 Jun 2021
In reply to JLS:

Looking at Strava I regularly do 2 hour 30 mile 3,000 ft loops but 5,000+ would certainly be more like 50 miles. A good counterpart locally is the the Matlock-Top-10 which includes a little over 6,000 ft in just under 40 miles. Best done when wet for the full nose-on-stem effect

 Yanis Nayu 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

I think you’ll find those Italian climbs very different in character. Do the Stelvio in preference to the Gavia IMO. It’s breathtaking in all senses of the word. 

 bigbobbyking 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

If you're set on using your own bike then it sounds like what you're asking for is a "taxi". If you've got a well serviced bike I'd not worry about and if you get stuck it sounds like you've got friends you could call upon. In these situations asking for forgiveness is normally better than asking for permission. If you ask them beforehand if they can rescue you it will seem like 'you knew this would happen' if it does... 

 65 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

I’d cycle in the Dolomites with the same level of support I’d use in the Yorkshire Dales; a tube, small multitool with a chain breaker and a CO2 canister. It’s busier than the French cols but the drivers give you plenty of room.

The Sella Ronda is a fantastic but not especially long or arduous route. If you can fit it in, ride the Auronzo road up to the Tres Cimes. Magic, but tough.

 Sans-Plan 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

A word of warning, the Mortirolo is awful ! I looped it from Ponte de Legno, over the Aprica and back over the Mortirolo, i have ridden a lot of the big passes and that is by far the toughest

Did the Stelvio from the north (the classic side) from Glorenza and looped back via the Umbrail Pass which is white road at the top, great ride out

Gavia we did out and back from Ponte de Legno but easily combined with the awfulness of the Mortirolo

Sella Ronda is easily doable from Corvara, we did it from Cortina which was a big day out.....

In reply to madwud:

Matlock Top-10 you're saying, gotta add this to my list. I've got a local loop that's 3300ft in 27 miles, but the more the merrier.

 Anne_S 30 Jun 2021
In reply to madwud:

Can't help you with cycling but what climbing club are you with?! I also want to go Dolomites in September but am a little short of climbing partners this year....

 madwud 01 Jul 2021
In reply to Anne_S:

Derwent MC -- loosely based around Matlock/Wirksworth/Belper. Dates are 6-12 Sept, as far as I'm aware. Chap called Greg Jennings is the organiser.

We are a small, friendly club and always welcome new members, why not join? The membership contact is Cath Sinclair via derwent-mountaineering-club.co.uk.

Martin

 madwud 01 Jul 2021
In reply to Alkis:

In order: Sydnope Hill (aka Two Dales), Bank Rd, Riber Rd, Holloway, Alderwasley, Wirksworth, Bonsall, Stanton Lees, Stanton-in-Peak, Rowsley Bar.

From memory, I don't think there's anything less that 7% average gradient. 

Its fine when its dry but a beast in the wet--leave your 39-23 gearing at home!

 madwud 01 Jul 2021
In reply to Sans-Plan:

I've heard that about the Mortirolo. Terrible surface and no view either!

 madwud 01 Jul 2021
In reply to madwud:

Sound advice. Thanks all. In sum, go equipped as normal and take a couple of taxi firm numbers--watch there be no reception! 

Provisionally thinking of:

1. Bormio-Gavia-Bormio (leg opener)

2. Bormio-Stelvio-Umbrail (DH)-Stelvio-Bormio (big day)

3. Sella Ronda-anti-clockwise from Corvara

4. Corvara-Giau-Valparola-Corvara

That's about 165 miles for the week ... oh, and 27,000 ft of ascent!

 Yanis Nayu 01 Jul 2021
In reply to madwud:

I’ve done 1. and 2.  Something to consider on day 1 instead of the Gavia is the Cancano. It’s easier, better to do the day before the Stelvio twice and is beautiful. 

 Sans-Plan 01 Jul 2021
In reply to madwud:

The Giro normally does the Gavia from the other side to Bormio, if that matters to you that is!

 madwud 02 Jul 2021
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

Thanks Yanis. Is this the one Hindley and Georghagen Hart duelled out in last year's Giro?

 TheGeneralist 02 Jul 2021
In reply to bigbobbyking:

> If you're set on using your own bike then it sounds like what you're asking for is a "taxi". 

Agree with this. The taxi services round there are well versed in the art of picking up Sella Ronda skiers and shuttling them back to their accommodation if they've gone too slowly or drunk too much beer 😃

 RobAJones 02 Jul 2021
In reply to madwud

> Agree with this. The taxi services round there are well versed in the art of picking up Sella Ronda skiers 

I know the Stelvio area better than the dolomites and to be honest riding unsupported round there is less than a problem than it would be in the UK. For madwuds longer ride (the descent into Switzerland is now all smooth tarmac ) Baldi Bikes in Prato can be very helpful and has an impressive array of consumables. Getting back to Bormio would be no problem, if you are prepared to talk to other cyclists /support drivers in the cafe. I would also add that even in September some of the roads will still be really busy, at least with groups of motorbikes, on those roads, the noise gives you pleny of advanced warning. 

 Yanis Nayu 02 Jul 2021
In reply to madwud:

Yes it is. 

 LJH 02 Jul 2021
In reply to madwud:

Hello,

You ride my local routes! . Doubt you will find fitness a major issue looking at what you do, but just need to be prepared for some long (slow) uphill slogs.

Worth also being aware that is not uncommon to get snow flurries in the higher passes into September. I probably been 1st two weeks in september 4 times and seen some snow on 3 of those trips. Actually bought the ploughs out once and we had to escape to the coast, think thats pretty unlucky for september mind! So just defo pack accordingly and defo keep eye on forecasts.

Also unless COVID has changed things your into the shutdown period between summer and ski season. So expect some lifts, pubs, cafes and shops to be shutting down.

 65 02 Jul 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

> I would also add that even in September some of the roads will still be really busy, at least with groups of motorbikes, on those roads, the noise gives you pleny of advanced warning. 

Agreed. It was during September c.5 years ago that I was cycling there and the climb up the Gardena is the only place I've ever wished the motorcyclists would bugger off, and I've done a fair bit of alpine riding.

OP: The surfaces aren't quite as good as in France or Spain either, though much better than is typical in the UK. Also worth bearing in mind that while the big col roads in France are generally only carrying local and tourist traffic, with the busy roads being down in the main valleys, in the Dolomites the mountain roads are the main roads, so you're mixing it with tourists, locals and commercial drivers as well. The driving culture though has a very healthy attitude to cyclists and everyone will give you tons of space.


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