Nuvolau as seen from Passo Giau
Dolomites, perhaps the most beautiful cycling venue in the world.
The Dolomites are an Italian mountain range in northeastern Italy and are part of the Italian Alps. This world famous bike climbing area is one of the most beautiful and spectacular venues for climbing by bike in the world. The scenery on so many of the climbs of the Dolomites is breathtaking and unparalleled. If we were given only one area in the world to cycle (a last wish or something along those lines), we would be hard pressed not to choose the Dolomites.
The Dolomites are also known as “the pale mountains.” The UNESCO Dolomites webpage has an excellent summary of The Dolomites in multiple languages, its introduction follows:
“The site of the Dolomites comprises a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres and cover 141,903 ha. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. A serial property of nine areas that present a diversity of spectacular landscapes of international significance for geomorphology marked by steeples, pinnacles and rock walls, the site also contains glacial landforms and karst systems. It is characterized by dynamic processes with frequent landslides, floods and avalanches. The property also features one of the best examples of the preservation of Mesozoic carbonate platform systems, with fossil records” (UNESCO).
We have stayed and ridden in the Dolomites twice and will return soon. Some of our favorite road bike climbs in the Dolomites are:
Nuvolau at Passo Giau.
Passo Giau is a fairly short, mild climb by Italian cycling climb standards. The Giro has included this climb seven times since 1973. This is an absolutely stunning bike climb, from both sides of the pass.
Falzarego from either side is one of the longer and most scenic of Dolomites bike climbs. The Giro has included this climb five times since 1976.
This gorgeous climb is part of the Sella Ronda (Campolongo-Pordoi-Sella-Gardena) which is one of the (if not THE) greatest cycling loops in the world. This loop circles the Sella Gruppo and can be ridden by bike during the cycling season, and skied during the winter using the Sella Ronda ski lift carousel. Our route is in the counterclockwise direction, beginning in Arabba.
Sella Ronda Bike Day is in June each year and climbs in this order: Sella-Pordoi-Campolongo-Gardena.
For our Sella Ronda, we stayed at Hotel Cir at the Col Gardena and we have no regrets. However, there are so many beautiful areas to stay in the Dolomites we doubt you can go wrong anywhere!
Just another spectacular Dolomites bike climb.
The 2 routes up to Passo Pordio come close, but come a tad short, from rivaling the incomparable Giau in beauty. Along with Passo Giau, Passo Pordio is a bucklet list-travel-from-California-worthy climb.
What Pordio lacks due to relatively mild difficulty, it makes up in dramatic rock formations and beauty.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is a very famous destination in the Dolomites which dead-ends near the base of the three peaks that are some of the most recognizable Dolomites formations. The three Peaks of Tre Cime from west to east are: Cima Ovest [2973m], Cima Grande [2999m], and Cima Piccola [2857m]). See the photo below (sadly, it was heavily overcast on the day we rode Tre Cime).
A bit about the Dolomites Mountain Range:
This northeastern Italy mountain range is largely regarded as the most beautiful mountain range in the world. The Dolomites are part of the Southern Limestone Alps, extending (west to east) from the River Adige to the Piave Valley, and (north to south) from Puster Valley to Saguna Valley. There are many regional parks throughout the Dolomites, and one national park, Dolomiti Bellunesi. The Dolomites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 (Wikipedia - Dolomites). In addition to their unique beauty, the Dolomites are largely famous due to their unique geological makeup. Through erosion, these light-colored dolomitic limestone mountains have been carved into landforms including “jagged, saw-edged ridges, rocky pinnacles, screes (pebble deposits) of limestone debris, deep gorges, and numerous steep rock faces at relatively low levels.” Higher up the mountain range are glaciated features -- 41 glaciers in all (Britannica).
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