A base in the Alta Badia region of the Dolomites opens up lots of possibilities for the outdoor enthusiast: climbing, mountain walking, via ferrata, cycling, mountain biking...or just spending time photographing the incredible scenery.
The day before the Sella Ronda we went out for a bit of a tester ride, I had a new bike (a KTM Revelator 4000 - I must admit it also had a triple ring which came in handy on the final climb), incredible heat and altitude to adjust to, which all seemed a world away from my soggy Manchester rides. If I thought I enjoyed riding in Manchester, cycling through the stunning Dolomites was just something else. We did steady 60k ride out to the Furcia Pass, it gave me a taste of the type of climbs we would be doing the next day - and although it was by no means easy the steady gradient of the climbs in the Dolomites make them long but manageable...until the last 3k where it kicked up quite a bit and made me really work.
Overall the test ride was a success, I gained some confidence on the climbs and was introduced to some real descending. I was all set to tackle the Sella Ronda!
Cycling the Sella Ronda
This legendary route round the Sella Massif takes in four of the big Dolomite passes in its 55km and 1780 metres of ascent. Starting in Covara and cycling the route anti-clockwise the first big climb is to the Passo Gardena at 2136m. Almost 600 metres of climbing just after breakfast was quite a wake-up call and let the legs know just what was expected of them. The reason why so many fellow riders were wearing super-lightweight windproofs became obvious as the speed of the descent quickly chilled even in the hot sun.
We had teamed up with two guys from our Chalet Claire and Nick, who had only chucked their road bikes into the van as a last minute whim. We were also joined by Rik who was a complete newbie to riding on a road bike...But as Rik proved as long as you are fit and you've got the balls to keep your hands off the breaks when your descending you can't go too wrong. It was great to have a group of us riding together and it helped me push harder during some of the tougher climbs.
Next was the Passo Sella - at 2240m the biggest of the four passes - then an exciting ride down the other side before the toughest climb of the day to the Passo Pordoi (2239m). I gave up counting the hairpins on this climb and just focused on the antics of the many, many motorcyclist intent on emulating their GP heroes. Almost there now with just the long descent to Arabba and the climb to the Passo Campolongo - which at 1875m has the decency to be the easiest - to finish.
An amazing day amidst magnificent scenery which fully lived up to expectations and the well-deserved accolade of one of the best days' cycling in the world.
Photos taken by myself and Charlie Andrews follow him on Flickr here @Charles.andrews1991