Total to date : 1963km
Today was a WOW day. 75km but almost all of them through spectacular scenery. The day started well with David bringing me a cup of tea in bed (well in sleeping bag) having lit another fire to boil the water.
Back on the bikes we soon turned away from the wide river valley we were in up a narrow gorge. A tumbling river with very steep sided, tree clad sides. Only room for one road but it wasn’t too busy. We were rather nervous as the map showed several tunnels. Tunnels for cyclists are horrible – we put on our lights, drivers are generally careful and the tunnels are lit – but when you are on a bike and not in a car the noise is cacophonous. It reverberates everywhere so you can’t tell whether something is coming from in front or behind and every small car sounds like a giant articulated lorry. Pedalling as fast as possible they seem to take forever.
However we were in luck. Round the side of each tunnel the old road was preserved as an ‘escape’ route. We could manoeuvre under the barrier and cycle in blissful peace through the most dramatic parts of the gorge. Only in one tunnel the road was blocked by a landslide half way along, but we could join the tunnel through the escape gate which was open and only had to put up with a short distance in the noise.
At the end of the tunnel section the valley briefly widened slightly and at a road junction we began to see other cyclists. We turned another narrow river valley, climbing all the time but gently and knew we must be getting high as we started to pass ski resorts which dotted all the way u the valley. At La Villa Stern the incredible rocky outcrops of the Dolomites came into view. Millennia of weathering into dramatic shapes, different coloured strata clearly visible, topped with wisps of clouds.
At the town of Corvara the gradual climbing changed. The road out of the town was a series of steep switch back bends. Each bend brought a higher view and we had an excuse to stop round every couple of bends to admire the view and wait for the heart rate to drop a bit before tackling the next few hundred meters.
Cyclists were still passing us but even they were at a very slow rate and we did get some admiring comments this time! The road flattened out a bit for the final pull up to the pass Passeo Campolongo 1875m – the highest point of the trip in both senses of the word. Photos taken we started the steep descent a short way to get out of the wind and have lunch looking out over fantastic views.
Then down down down, steep and windy at first then joining the main road more gradual – road still clinging high up on the valley side with the river far far below. Eventually we turned onto a side road to wind dramatically down to the river level and the final few km to the lovely lake at Alleghe and the campsite at the far end.
It had been a brilliant day’s cycling and great to roll in early at 4pm so we could set up camp and pedal back the couple of km to town (amazingly springy without luggage!) for a drink. We brought a portable barbecue pack to cook out supper on. It was not easy in fact to get enough heat but, supplemented with twigs and other firewood, David managed to cook a very passable meal.