The Dolomites: Aug. 22 - 29

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August 22nd 2015
Published: July 6th 2017
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Coffee stop in BruckCoffee stop in BruckCoffee stop in Bruck

Coffee stop in Bruck
Geo: 46.5376, 12.1413

Saturday saw us on another ride to a new destination – this week: Cortina, Italy. We left Hallstatt, Austria with fond memories amid broken skies, making our way around the mountains, south and west to the little village of Bruck, and the start of the Grossglocknerstrauss amid sunny skies. The 50 km toll road is adjacent to the Hohe Tauern National Park, which consists of 300 mountains and 246 glaciers, of which the Grossglockner is the tallest peak in Austria.

This magnificent road goes through the Fusher Tall, a lush, green valley, up and over the peaks of the Grossglockner Pass with its series of switchbacks and serpentine roads. We stopped at the top of Edelweiss Spitz amid a crowd of motorcycles, cars and the usual number of cyclists to take in the awesome panorama, stretch our legs, and take pictures. The ride down the southern slopes was just as eye-popping and challenging. We stopped at a break area just above Kasereck for lunch, enjoying a spectacular view of the Karnten Valley below.The entire ride was well worth the price of the 24.50 Euro toll.

Sunday was our first full day in Cortina and the majestic Italian Dolomites. We awoke to find heavy clouds and the threat of rain. Dave and Janet decided to take a quick ride up the mountain after enjoying breakfast on the walking district in the center town. The short 45km ride took them over the Passo De Falzerago, with its meandering curves up the mountain, then down into a wooded valley before rising again, up 29 hairpins (numbered) to Passo di Giau, which was shrouded in clouds. After a quick cappuccino, they continued on, back up to Passo De Falzerago, and back down to Cortina. A great ride in spite of the clouds. That night the gang headed into town for Italian food, then enjoyed another Tyrolean concert in the town square. The few sprinkles didn't put a damper on the attendance or the performance, which featured movie scores in addition to traditional music .Monday the weather took a turn for the worse, so relaxing, shopping and laundry were the order of the day. Tuesday the forecast called for light rain, but Janet and Dave took to the high roads for a tour of several of the passes and villages west of Cortina. Many of the high peaks were shrouded in clouds, but overall the views were still captivating. Entering the Alta Badia region about 25km away, they passed through wonderful sweepers and serpentine roads leading to the ski resort town of Covara (and site of the World Cup downhill races), then into Arabba for lunch. On the way back to town they stopped at the Castle Andraz site, where remnants of a fortress built on a rock in 1000AD had recently opened to the public. From there, it was back up over the Falzarego Pass, back to Cortina, avoiding rain the entire trip. Wednesday Guenther and Deb took a day trip to Venice amid clear sunny skies (see separate blog post). Janet and Dave took to the road again, this time heading east out of Cortina, over the Tre Croce pass, skirting the Austrian border on several of the smaller roads. They traveled to Tolmezzo, through Alpine forests at the edge of the Dolomites, then back over wonderful winding, deserted Alpine roads through more quaint villages, stopping for lunch at Sella Di Razo, with a commanding view of the mountains, before heading back home. It was another gorgeous morning the next day when the group headed off for a loop of several of the spectacular passes in the region. Heading south from Cortina, we first navigated a tiny mountain road over the Cibiana Pass, with eye-popping vistas along the route. After descending down to a river valley, we climbed another narrow road, finally reaching Passo Duran, the perfect place for a coffee break, situated on an open plain with great views all around. Then it was a wonderful ride west, winding up through Arabba and over the Campolongo Pass to Corvara, a great spot for a patio lunch. Finally, the climbing road over Valparola back to Cortina provided everyone with many great photos of the jagged peaks and green valleys, this time with no cloud cover and bright, blue skies. On Friday, Dave and Janet took a great 140km ride around the Sella Massif, a huge mountain situated west of Covara. The full loop took in over five passes, including three new ones: Gardena, Sella, and Pordoi. The weather was a warm 80 degrees and sunny – perfect for our last ride through the Dolomites – as we head to the lake district of Northern Italy tomorrow.

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