2014 Maratona dles Dolomites

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After 4 years of failure, I was lucky enough to win an entry into the 2014 Maratona dles Dolomites. It’s easily the most beautiful and professionally run event I have ever entered (I rode it in 2009 too).

The course is 138 kilometres, 7 main climbs including a loop of the Sella Ronda, and the very tough Passo Giau (all passes labeled on map at bottom). In total, roughly 4000 metres of ascent.

lungo_2014

I rode with my good friends: “The Boys from St. Etienne” – Philippe and Xavier.

Breakfast at 4:30am, we left for the start at 5:30am before the roads closed. The race started at 6:30am. But we were at the very back of more than 10,000 cyclists. We crossed the start line at roughly 7:00 am.

The course is absolutely beautiful, and the weather was as good as could be expected. The first climb to Passo Campolongo was very congested, but things eased up for the long and beautiful climb up to Passo Pordoi.

Nice Hairpin

Nice Hairpin

Passo Pordoi

Passo Pordoi

The stretch between Passo Pordoi and Passo Sella is just stunning. The road hugs the mountains.

Passo Sella

Passo Sella

I’d be lying if I claimed I knew where all these photos were exactly located.

Enjoying the day

Enjoying the day

After Passo Sella the route was a little bit easier to Passo Gardena. I felt reasonably good and enjoyed the pro photographers:

Waving to the camera

Waving to the camera

I was happy to finish the descent from Passo Gardena to Corvara. We’d circled the Sella Ronda, I’d been eating and drinking like a pig, and the day was going well.

Descending Passo Gardena

Descending Passo Gardena

We had to cycle up Passo Campolongo again, but with a less congested road, it wasn’t too bad. Next a long, long stretch before the feared Passo Giau.

This is a brilliantly run event in every way. For example, some fool knocked Philippe’s bike over at a drink station and bent his deraileur hanger thing (technical talk). He was having problems changing gears when we passed one of many repair stations. There was perhaps the best mechanic I have ever seen, who using a myriad of tools, fixed Philippe’s bike in 4 minutes. Grazie mille!

Expert Mechanic

Expert Mechanic

Passo Giau next. 10 kms at 9.3% with some steep ramps. Lots of tired legs but we made good progress.

Passo Giau

Passo Giau

Once at the summit, we took a long, long food (cheese!) and drink break – we were tired but success was in sight. We weren’t particularly fast up the long but not too steep Passo Falzarego / Passo Valparola climb, but we kept moving.

Descending Passo Valparola

Descending Passo Valparola

It started raining here – quite hard at times, but fortunately it wasn’t that cold. No worries.

Scared to death

Scared to death

After descending Passo Valparola, the only difficulty was the new addition to the course: Il Muro del Gatto (the cat wall). Just a fun, short 400 metre very, very steep stretch. My main goal was not to put feet to ground. :)

Il Muro del Gatto - steep!

Il Muro del Gatto – steep!

We certainly weren’t the fastest. And it certainly wasn’t easy for us. But all-in-all it was a remarkably fun day on one of the truly great Alpine routes.

The Finish!

The Finish!

60 seconds after the finish:

A well earned beer!

A well earned beer!

Finally, a few more photos of me taken by the pro photographers:

Trying to win my age category?

Trying to win my age category?

All the Passes plus il muro del gatto

All the Passes plus il muro del gatto

Route 2,687,443 – powered by www.bikemap.net

9.6 Awesome

While the roads are closed to traffic, the route is certainly full of cyclists. It can be tricky at times, but this course is as beautiful as it gets, and very professionally organised.

  • Difficulty 9.5
  • Views 10
  • Quiet / No Traffic 9
  • Fun Factor 10
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About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.

4 Comments

  1. Just completed the maratona as well so I know how much you deserved that beer! It is the best event i’ve done and was even harder the second time as the Giau doesn’t get any easier with familiarity. Kudos

  2. Pingback: Passo Giau (the “easier” north side)

  3. Will,

    Great job. As always, photos are superb. One day I will get in to this ride hopefully. Always good to see that the LCW vest is still pulling in those serious vertical meters.

    Cheers
    Shawn

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