Sunday, September 7, 2008

Italian Dolomite Camp Weekend

Friday we headed southeast to the northern part of Italy, the Alto Adige region. This is the land of the Dolomites.

Our home base was Castelrotto (Italian name) or in German it's Kastelruth. You feel more like you're in Austria or Germany in this part of Italy, as the language of choice is German. The view from our apartment balcony was not too shabby, but our guides could not agree on which way to go.

A hearty breakfast was in order to fuel up for the ride.

Saturday's ride was the "shorter" version of the Maratona dles Dolomites.

Shorter & easier only meant we would climb 8,050' in 51 miles, ending with a 6 mile dowhill. So our Italian day turned out to be 57 miles, 8,050' and 5 hrs riding. Just another typical ride with the Hillseekers!

I was scared to even look at the map.

We headed to the Gardena Pass first.

More of the same ole boring stuff;-)

Even though the language is German, you know you're in Italy with this kind of passing scenery!

Mine's the third one in the lineup.

Beautiful climb.

We saw tons of cyclists all day.

Climbing and smiling, we're getting used to this.

Our reward, of course, down, down, down.

How nice that someone put those flowers there for me in the switchback.
Perfect place to give my neck and hands a rest. These long downhills really get to me and I would have to take a quick break halfway down sometimes to try and peel my hands off the bars.

Frau Buggy!

I loved seeing all the cyclists!

It was windy.

Our friends were back on the second climb. They were taking the easy way out for the ascent, but at least they were doing it in style.

Oh yea, yello Lambo baby!

I love all the flowers on every building you see.

Second climb of the day.

Lazy Italian cows didn't even cheer us on.

Passerby, out in the middle of nowhere.

Yield to cows? For real? All the ones I've seen so far seem pretty lazy!

Climb, climb, climb. It's all we do is climb!

Almost to the top.

The Alphorn always brings smiles to people's faces and we strike up a conversation....usually in German.

After the mini concert, it's time to layer up for the descent. Even though it warms up quickly at the bottom, you appreciate the warmth on the way down.

Coming into turn #23. Don't know how many switchbacks there were on this descent, but I appreciate the numbers when climbing. Gives you something to focus on as you count down (or up) the turns.

We did 4 climbs that day, and I have a zillion pictures. It's late and time for bed check, so I better be quick with my post.
Looking back down the Pordoi Pass, our 3rd climb. 7 miles with 33 switchbacks.

With Jeff setting a wicked pace, I was eagerly looking for each number on the turns. Only 3 more switchbacks to go before the top. I was giving it all I had to keep his pace, thinking it was our last climb of the day. Oops, we still had one more to go.

I really didn't know we had 4 climbs to do. Our last pass, the Sella Pass.

It only had 10 switchbacks, and these started with the #10 at the bottom. So this time I got to count down, like New Year's Eve.

It is a very dramatic climb!

Cool looking back down!

Celebratory concert.

Plenty of other cyclists up top as well.

I'm smiling cause I know it's ALL downhill from here.
We've climbed 8,050' in 51 miles at this point, so a downhill sounds pretty cool.

We all know how Raja feels about downhills! Zoom, zoom, zoom.

Whoohoo! What a day! 5 hours of riding, we're not tired!

A well deserved meal of tortellini and veggies in our uber cool apt!

After a good night's sleep and another big breakfast, it was time for some more exploring of the Dolomites. We called in for the weather forecast and decided it would be better to do a hike. Besides, we were all secretly in favor of a real "easy" day. None of this 10,000' of climbing in 30 miles.

So we made like Italian cows and got all lazy.

Just a few miles up the mountain from our hotel is the Alpe di Siusi area.

It's a very popular hiking region. The clouds made the dramatic setting even more dramatic!

We've hiked and ridden here many times, and I never tire of its beauty.

There are some serious hikes here, but we opted for the "Silver Comet" level today.

As quick as the clouds would roll in, a patch of blue sky would allow the sun to pop through for a few minutes, and then it would disappear again.

But the weather didn't keep the hikers or bikers away. The place was bursting with other folks out enjoying the gorgeous scenery.

We had seen this large group of mtn bikers yesterday on our ride. They were doing some type of trans mtn ride, and we recognized them today as they came zipping by.

Raja and I were insanely jealous as we watched them ride by. They could obviously tell we were "one of them" as they waved and smiled.

What we did yesterday seemed like such an epic ride to us, and yet that was really a typical basic ride for people out here. These cyclists are hardcore to the bone, and we feel so small in their presence.

Nonetheless, we're still proud of what we've done so far, and a celebration song is always in order at the top every climb.

It always draws a crowd.....of appreciative people.

Yea, we're proud of ourselves. So far we've got over 300 miles, 26 hrs riding, and over 35,000' climbing. And there's one more day left.....

We also have to remember why we planned this trip in the first place.
October 1st, we'll celebrate our longest ride ever; our 20yr wedding anniversary.

We stumbled upon a wedding chapel in the perfect setting. Why not renew our vows here?!

Ahhhhhh, Happy Anniversary, sweetie! Thanks for the incredible trip....this beats a new ring anyday!

It's Sunday night, and w're back in Rueschlikon with one more day left of our awesome Hillseeker Camp. Then we pack our bags (with more than 40lbs of chocolate we've acquired) and head back home on Tuesday:-(
One more day........we'll do as much as we can!!!!!!!

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