Sunday 23 June 2013. Colfosco
As a prelude to the Maratone dles Dolomites which is a hard and long cycle ride over many of the highest Dolomites passes, to be held next weekend, the roads are closed this Sunday so that cyclists can enjoy a smaller loop of this epic sportive. This is known as the Sella Ronda Bike Day and is a non competitive event, open to everyone, taking in the scenic passes of Gardena, Campolongo, Pordoi and Sella. The course is quite short, being 58km in total, but it is fairly hard, going over three passes over 2,000 metres and a significant pass at around 1,900 metres.
When we wake, (about 5 am,) the day is perfect, no clouds and the sky a deep blue over the shining Dolomite Peaks. We start straight out up the first of 4 passes of the day, as we are joining the route from Colfosco; The Groedner, or Gardena. We join hundreds and thousands of other cyclists. Straight up into the hairpins, the meadows, the rocks and the mountains with glinting snowfields. Later we find out that 20,000 cyclists did this route on the day, a celebration of a carless utopia. The whole route is so scenic. The top of the passes is a mass of cyclists blocking the road as they stop to eat and take photos. Going down is a bit tricky as there are so many cyclists on the outside or squeezing past on the inside that it is hard to take the line you need to get round the bends. The roads are as smooth as velvet with plenty evidence of recent hasty repair jobs on potholes and cracked sections. After two passes it seems to be about lunchtime and we stop at a cafe with a magnificent view down in to the valley, and a view of cyclist s labouring up the next section of the route as we will have to, once fortified with a hearty wedge of polenta with barbecued sausages, done outside on a giant fire.
Details of the Sellaronda course
The Sellaronda course starts in the village of La Ila and finishes in the village of Corvara. The course goes clockwise around the Sella mountain group. Four passes must be surmounted to finish the course. After the start the course follows the main road through the Val Badia to the village of Corvara. The ascent to Campolongo Pass begins immediately behind the village. After crossing Campolongo Pass the course descends to the village of Arabba in the Fodom valley; from there it climbs to the Pordoi Pass and then descends into the Fassa valley. There the climb to the Sella Pass begins, from which the riders descend into Gardena valley. The last pass the Sellaronda course traverses is the Gardena Pass. From it the course begins its final descent towards the finish at Corvara.
Campolongo Pass: 5.8 km, Gradient: 6.1%
Pordoi Pass: 9.2 km, Gradient: 6.9%
Sella Pass: 5.5 km, Gradient: 7.9%
Gardena Pass: 5.8 km, Gradient: 4.3%
Total distance: 55 km (34 mi)
Total altitude difference: 1,780 m (5,840 ft)