12 months ago I spent 4 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo, bang smack in the middle of the Dolomites. It was cold and wet for a few of the days. Will it be this trip?
Leaving Belluno we took a few shots as we walked our bikes around the narrow cobbles streets to the main piazza. The fruit stall and fish vendor had set up since we walked through here last night.
The route plan today was to stick with various cycle routes and paths, as these were options in this area. It would be safer, but slower. We had the day though as it was a shorter ride of just under 80 km. It would be uphill pretty well the whole way, starting our ride from just below 400 m.a.s.l. and finishing at just over 1200 m.a.s.l.
No big towns or cities today, just villages and the outskirts of towns. Here are some earlier photos.
Along the trails there were various signs, water fountains and fantastic views. These trails are shared use with walkers and the occasional car.
You will recall the heavy rains that dumped down only a few days ago necessitating a change in plans. Today we were to witness first hand some of the dramatic consequences. In the photo above, as well as a nice mountain you can see fresh landslide activity.
The bike track went down a slope to this, freshly moved gravel alongside a river. With the flooding, the track was gone.
It was very soft and spongy but at least we got across.
Back onto the road for a short time, off onto a quieter one where we found this herd of sheep being relocated. They were huge with goat like ears. They definitely had a loud baaaa and many wore bells around their necks.
In the next village, a sign indicated that our route was closed. Looking behind us we could see these workers clearing the railway line from landslide deposits.
Whilst we were watching these guys, a cyclist came down the closed road and we asked was it passable for bikes. Yes, but be careful as narrow. We got through without issue, to then switch back onto bike path. Another closure sign but we thought we’d see. Maybe it would be like the last one.
We were riding very slowly and carefully. Just as well because……
Yes it had been partially washed away by the river in flood. That is quite some undercut. In the photo above, you can see the track stops….it no longer exists, and there was just a drop off to the river. I imagine it will be some time before this track is repaired.
A bit of quick map checking and we headed into the road for a few km until we rejoined the bike path and route further along.
We stopped for lunch at a ‘pub’ I’d stopped at last year in Ospital. It was getting a bit cooler and windy. So we made tracks ASAP as rain was the last thing we needed.
The climbing was more intense with a series of switchbacks getting us up around 800m.a.s.l. More climbing to be done.
We eventually turned left to head towards Cortina. There is a brilliant rail trail that runs for nearly the entire length. We went through many small villages, where the old stations have been repurposed. The old tunnels were used for the route, and I think we rode through 7. It was well sealed (with a 3 km gravel section where avalanche barriers and drainage courses are being constructed).
Got to have a Milka first!
On the outskirts of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics ski jump arena. Now in a reasonably bad state of repair. I read that the only issue faced was a lack of snow!
The Italian Army transported snow to the area and the competition was hailed an outstanding success.
In conjunction with Milano, Cortina is on the short list ( along with Stockholm) for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
A few more km of riding to reach Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Here we are! Just a nudge above 1200 m.a.s.l. In winter this place buzzes as a major ski resort. That provides advantages to cyclists travelling with bikes as all the hotels have a ski room, for the storage of skis and boots. Perfect for bikes in the skiing off season.
We have three nights here. You need that as the weather can be temperamental at altitude. We have two rides in mind, totally weather dependant.
It is pouring with rain so we got here before it started. Good result.
The last photo is from the bike rail trail. A cafe has set up and this is outside the cafe.
Thanks for reading,