Sunday, Martin and I successfully completed the Maratona dles Dolomites.
138 kms; 4,000 metres of vertical ascent along maybe the most beautiful route I have ever ridden. For a more detailed preview of the course see here.
7 main climbs with 5 above 2,000 metres. Lots of sunshine and YES, a little hail. For the official results – click here .
Just about every photo was taking while sitting on my bike.
This event was brilliantly organized. Amazing course, Roads closed to cars for entire route, frequent food/drink stations, frequent mechanic aid stations, newly surfaced roads, above average after race food, etc.
With something like 10,000 riders, the first third of the race was crowded, but the views of thousands of riders snaking up mountains was incredible. Every one was in good spirits and several of us commented how “respectful” and cheerful the peloton was.
The only traffic of the day were endless ambulances passing by. A sobering reminder of how dangerous descending large mountains can be.
The first section of the race was a 55 km loop around the Sella Ronde, climbing 4 Passes (Campolongo, Pordoi, Sella, and Gardena). Perhaps as enjoyable and beautiful a ride as I have had. At this point, we were still fresh enough to gasp at every new panorama (this would change later).
After the loop, we then climbed Campolongo again and realized there was still an awful lot of work to do – we were less than half way.
Passo Giau was by far the hardest part of the day. It was suddenly dead quiet, with the only sounds heavy breathing as we all concentrated on passing the 29 sign-posted hairpins.
10 kms averaging 9.3% was misleading as some flat parts meant there were long stretches far steeper.
As we approached the top, the weather started turning. And as I finished stuffing my face with food, it started to pour with cold rain. This was at 2235 metres and I decided the only sensible plan was to descend immediately. And then it started hailing (ok it was pretty light hail)!
Fortunately, after a few kms we rode out of the storm – and despite threatening skies I made it to the finish before the next brief downpour.
The final climb to Passo Val Parola was much easier, and I enjoyed a very fast final descent to the finish – in fact I enjoyed all the descents more than I usually do, in part due to the superb road surfaces.
Other cyclosportives I was pleased to have done once. But I would happily do the Maratona dles Dolomites again. As good as it gets.