[ blog » 2021 » 07_Tour_Italy ] d25: The Tre Cime and South Tyrol (by Philipp Gesang, location: Natz-Schabs)

Tre Cime

As expected that night at Auronzo was the coldest yet but fortunately without rain. It stayed chilly all morning, nevertheless a short sleeve jersey was all I needed as the climb kept me warm.

And that climb was epic. After a slow start at comfortable gradients the slope gets "manageably" hard (around 12 %) close to the Lago di Misurina. However the road from there to the Rifugio di Auronzo reaches gradients so incredibly steep they defy any comparison. The final 500 m of climbing are practically one contiguous maximum effort interval. The climbs I did so far, including the Etna and the Cima Blockhaus, were a piece of cake by comparison. Thanks to traffic limiting measures the road itself was rather calm, although the frequent buses performed some risky manoeuvers. A few road cyclists had beat me to the summit and cheered me on their way back down.

Already at Auronzo I had noticed the low clouds that threatened to ruin visibility at altitude. It kept looking relatively good though until around 2000 m when clouds would occasionally reach down to engulf me. Up at the Rifugio the disappointment was great as clouds had cornered the place from every direction except the south west from which I had ascended. So after climbing 2320 meters from sea level all I got to see was a bunch of lousy clouds. Great.

The temperature dropped to below 10 degrees up there which I barely noticed until I had stopped pedaling. Thus I immediately changed into cold weather gear, for the first time on this trip! Nevertheless on the descent my hands got partially numb from the cold. Due to the extreme gradients and shoddy road surface the descent got quite sketchy at times. The road had dried almost completely though so I made it back down with no issues and enjoyed the downhill part to Dobbiaco.

When it Rains

In Dobbiaco it started raining. That's when I knew camping wasn't going to be a great option today so I stopped to book a room for the first time since Rome. The prices listed were absolutely shocking, they started at around 170 euros for the night! After some searching I managed to find something more appropriate in the vicinity of Brixen which I intended to reach today.

The rain never stopped, it just kept going. Well, from Dobbiaco it's only like 400 m downhill so how hard can it be? Turns out that "downhill" was a little more involved. Again the main road proved unrideable after a few kilometers. They used the cheap "here's a tunnel!" pretext to ban cyclists. At that occasion I missed Sicily a lot where they have no such aversion against allowing cyclists in the gallerie. Very unfortunately the alternative route around the tunnel was blocked by a construction site so I had to take the percorso ciclabile which only loosely follows the main road and added quite a few unwanted kilometers to the trip.

It's one of those cycle routes that were designed to give cyclists the middle finger, involving dirt roads, steep useless climbs, abandoned roads with shoddy surfaces that haven't seen a new layer of tarmac since the 80s, wild corners, extensive detours, slippery wooden bridges, confusing and partially absent signage -- simply every conceivable device to discourage anyone from using it.

What should have been an easy three hours downhill ended up taking me more than four hours. With the motorway starting at Brixen I hope I'll be able to use the main road through the valley tomorrow. Let's see if it stops raining till then.


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