The whiteboard said 120 km, with 2600 meters up and 1100 meters down. I was not sure what the gradient was going to be and was a bit daunted as we set off from the hotel.
We pretty much started climbing straight away, with some sections not so steep. At about 15 km I realised I must not have done the top on one of my water bottles up properly as I have lost it. Hopefully we will pass a shop so I can refill the bottle I have.
We seemed to go up and up and up and up, some tough gradient. At about 30 km we had some very pretty lakes and not much of a gradient for awhile, but then the climb began again. We had a couple of small tunnels, so it was nice and cool inside. At an average speed of approx ten km/hr this was going to be a long day.
Old rail trail
We passed through a number of villages, and all the houses had impressive stock piles of wood ready for next winter.
At 52 km we went through quite a long tunnel, but it had gaps on the side and way below it was a very pretty town. We had a fantastic 10 km downhill to the town, then climbed up to turn and leave the main road, to go along a side road along the river to the lunch stop.
At 1:30 pm, after 5 and a half hours riding, I got to lunch. By this stage I had climbed 1,330 meters with only 68.5 km ridden. At this stage, looking at my riding speed I wouldn’t get to the finish until 8 pm. Taking into account my cold and my sore arm, we decided Brett would ride ahead and I would take the truck.
The only problem with that idea, is that on this trip there is a lack of infrastructure and the truck can only take 4 riders – and 6 riders wanted a ride. We tried to order a taxi, not but not surprisingly a driver from Cortina (60 km away) was not keen to come to pick up people from a ‘river’, with not great directions and language barrier.
The next option was to get the dinner truck (the one that goes straight to the hotel and flags the route to come back) which meant a couple of hours wait. Then this wait would be even longer as Gergo, who was driving the dinner truck, had to go and pick up Tony who had come off his bike. We were not clear about why he couldn’t then continue to come and get two of us. So then we had a bit of a standoff: none of the 6 of us now want to start riding, as another hour has past and we will be looking at arriving at 9pm instead of 8pm.
Without any other solution apart from two of us riding, and not wanting to be involved in deciding who that will be, I asked John W if he is prepared to hitch hike with me.
John W and I set off taking our helmets (but not our bikes as they can go on the rack on the back of the truck) with us to hitchhike. To start we had to walk back the 3 km to where we left the main road – while wearing our cycling shoes.
Luckily once we got there the 12th car stopped for us. The male driver was Italian and spoke no English, he wasn’t going as far as Cortina but agreed to give us a lift to where he was going. He wanted to know where our bikes were, but with the language barrier we were not able to explain. We did manage to convey that we had accommodation in Cortina, and John knew how to say it was a beautiful country.
We thought at least if we get to a town we will be better off. Well bless this man, there may have been a language barrier but he took us into the middle of a town about 20 km from where he had picked us up, and dropped us off at a bus stop. We offered him money but he wouldn’t take any.
So there we are at the bus stop trying unsuccessfully to read the bus timetable in Italian, when a bus turned up.
We asked the driver “do you go to Cortina?”
“No” he said “3 minutes”, then got out of his bus, locked it, and went across the road!
So then John and I are wondering does he mean he drives the bus to Cortina but not for 3 minutes?
Well exactly 3 minutes later the bus to Cortina arrived! To say we were happy would be an understatement! The bus took us to Cortina and dropped us off in the centre of town at the bus stop. Then we just had to find the hotel! Would you believe, right there in front of us: orange flagging tape! Which we followed the 2.5 km to the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel at exactly the same time as a Brett, who had of course made excellent time not having to wait for me.
Tony, the rider who came off his bike, was unharmed but broke the hanger for the derailer and had no spare! Luckily the bike shop in Cortina, whilst not having the correct one for his bike, managed to fashion one to fit.
On arriving at the hotel I immediately had a cold beer with John W, Brett and Walker (all four of us did the Trans Europa in 2012).
Safe arrival beers: 2 riders, 2 hitch hikers!!!
Afterwards, I had dinner with John, Walker, Brett and Graham. We had pasta with tomato sauce, Chicken schnitzel (nasty and dry), Strudel and ice cream, and Red wine called Pinot Nero
The Hotel we are staying at is called Menardi Hotel.
View from the balcony
Walker and his Wife Carol – both retired
Walker and Carol did the 2nd half of the 2012 TransEuropa
They are from USA. Walker was an investment banker and Carol a music teacher. Carol is on a singing tour (she is in a choir) of the UK, whilst Walker is doing the ride. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren, no cats or dogs.
John W and Marilyn (doesn’t ride), they have 2 sons, no pets
John is an almost retired university professor from Vancouver, he still does some consulting. This is his 4th TDA ride.
1956 Olympic ski run