It’s 6 o’clock on a bright Monday morning in July where, form the Hotel Funivia „La Pedalata tosta“ begins it’s journey.
It will challenge us to stay strong on the bikes as we ride 230 Km with 5,500 meters of elevation, but the group is full of spirit today can’t wait to start this tough adventure, with the support of Elisa and Sara in the van.
Along with the two creators of La Pedalata, Daniele Schena “Stelvioman” from Hotel Funivia and Klaus Irsara form Hotel Melodia del Bosco, the group is varied and close-knit, ready to plunge into the journey that lays ahead. Omar di felice, famous ultra-cyclist leads a single line of riders coming out of the town, followed by journalists Gabriele Pezzaglia and Kristian Arnth, Hannah Raynolds and American influencere and Claudia Rier, a marketing expert from Siusi.
The first climb to face is Gavia Pass the queen, 25 Km from Bormio,
passing trough Santa Caterina Valfurva.
The first section of the climb with its slight ascent allows us to fully enjoy the quite peace of the sunrise, but the real beauty is yet to come. Once past the 2000 meters mark the air becomes rarefied and the colours of the early morning blur the contours of the mountain thanks to the law clouds.
The refuge appears in the distance, and the summit top is pure contemplation of the magnificence of nature that never leaves us disappointed, as we pass close to the mountains goats busy nibbling the grass by the side of the road.
The descent to Ponte di Legno is long and peaceful, accompanied only by the noise of the world that is beginning to wake.
From Tonale the way is a constant, up and down on roads sourrounded by apple orchards and vineyards until the beginning of Passo della Mendola.
Once out of Bozen we follow the cycle path that runs from the old railway to Ponte Gardena, the gradient increases until the town of Lajon, castled at the entrance of Val Gardena.
The fatigue and heat are now felt, lots of hours in the legs and the peak of Passo Gardena is not yet in sight willpowder and determination are needed to keep strong and go on with the cycling. From Ortisei to Selva the road goes up and as we start we have already been cycling for more than 10 hours. Still 25 Km separates us from the end of our first day’s adventure, about 10 of which is to be climbed.
We are all silent, the sound of the chains turning and deep breathing the only noises aroud us, with the spectacle of the sunset of the summit of Gardena hichlighting the satisfaction and the relief of having made it.
From here the glide to Hotel Melodia del Bosco is one of genuine pleasure, between the Dolomites coloured pink for the occasion.
A mountain village at night has a special silence, deep and comforting, exactly what we needed after such a long day. The group decide to follow different paths on the rest day. Some enjoy the four passes ride, while others take a rest and a few have to work, but everyone is already thinking about the day after and the meeting with its majesty the Stelvio.
Here we are. It’s 6 am and we are ready, in the face of the “Sas dla Crusc” the iconic peak of the valley. The challenge today appears to be easier than the first day, 200 Km with 4,000 m of elevation. Weather seems to be good, but the forecast says it might be rainy along the way. We start, but fate shows us it will not be an easy day as after just a few kilometres we have the first puncture. Never mind, Passo Gardena is waiting for us in all its splendour, pale mountains slowly rise from various shades of cloud cover. From the top we go down in the direction of Ortisei where we decide to ride Passo Pinei, a lesser-known mountain pass in the area that allows us to reach the plateau of Siusi and Castelrotto, before the long glide towards Bozen. The wide valley of Alto Adige takes us to Merano on country roads nestled in the crop of wine and grape. In the distance we can see the mouth of Val Venosta, from here 50 Km left before we start climbing the Stelvio. The sky starts to be leaden and the legs are heavy, but then Klara Fischnaller, a cyclist from Merano joins us and brings new life to the group. On the path we pass through the small villages of the valley, Naturno, Laces, Silandro where the road becomes gravel, and we look like heroes thanks to the rain that has become heavy during the ride.
We are now in Prato allo Stelvio, from here the last climb of La Pedalata. A bar in the centre allows us a chance for refreshment. We rarely speak, Stelvio is a mix of respect, fear and desire. After passing by Trafoi, we become immediately aware that clouds and rain will be with us to Bormio. The scenery is epic, grey and dark, worthy of the fares from the past, and as we head towards the endless hairpin bends our thoughts bring us back to these images, and even though tired and cold we enjoy every single metre of this epic climb.
The peak of the Stelvio triggers a lot of emotions in us all, satisfaction and proud of the achievement, but also a bit of sadness to be at the end of these 430 Km, that will remain forever in our memories. We all have something in common, these three days have been only the beginning of a magical adventure that will welcome over the coming years thousands of cyclists from all over the world, united in their passion, friendship and wish to ride a stretch of the road together.