Auto Ads by Adsense

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

June 24th: Selva di Gardena to Prato Allo Stelvio

The morning that greeted us as we left Selva di Gardena was beautiful, with not even a cloud in the sky. I did a double-take and checked my phone for a refreshed forecast but it hadn't changed. So off we went down to Ortisel. Komoot kept trying to direct us to a bike path but I knew from experience that if traffic is not bothersome, the main road is much faster on a descent than any bike path, and a lot more fun to boot.
In Ortisel, I paused at a bike shop to check for directions, and then we waved goodbye to the Gardena area and started up the climb over to Kastelrotto. The climb was surprisingly steep, reminding us that our performance the previous day was also partly due to not having to carry our panniers on the bike. It didn't take long before we warmed up and I was putting on sunscreen again. It was good to see that the route I was on was frequented by cyclists, who once again would compliment us as they rode past. It turns out that this route was part of a loop with 2 passes: Passo Pinei (which we would climb), and a further road up to Siusi which could take you back to Selva di Gardena with sufficient climbing.
With all the climbing we had in our legs from yesterday, we were quite happy to see the pass sign, which at 1437m meant that we had only done 200m of climbing from the valley. From there, the descent to Castelrotto was fast, and we arrived at the Spar to buy some fruit and chocolate to eat while the morning was still cool, having learned that the weather was too warm to buy chocolate to carry in the saddlebag.
Past Castelrotto, I started riding up towards Siusi but then did a map check and realized that Lukas's directions meant "ride in the direction of Siusi but don't actually go there." From there, we had a beautiful descent towards Fie. The directions from Lukas was to head towards Atzwang from the old road, but I must have missed a turn. Reasoning that descending through obnoxious tunnels was not that big of a deal compared to having to climb through them, I followed the main road down through fast and furious turns and descents until the road dumped us out near Prato Isarco right in front of the bike path that I had used to climb up to Steinegg 4 years ago.
From there, it was a 6km ride to the Bolzano train station, where we bought train tickets to Schluderns, with a transfer in Merano. The ticket counter agent looked at the bike and said, "I'm not sure if you can find a space for the bike, but I'm willing to sell you the tickets if you want to try." It turned out that at noon on a Sunday there was plenty of room for the bike, and we could get the bike easily on the train to Merano, though there was a mad scramble while the conductor taught me how to validate the tickets, using a machine that wasn't the same as the ones we had used to get from Verona to Bolzano!
In Merano, we did the transfer with the help of a British gentleman who owned a tandem back home and felt compelled to help us out. He was impressed that we were going to attempt the Stelvio, and had done the Sella Rondo the day before. While on the train, I asked Bowen if he wanted to tackle the Stelvio immediately and ride up to Trafoi, or whether he wanted to stop in Prato Allo Stelvio and then do the Stelvio the next day. "Stay in Prato Allo Stelvio tonight" was the answer. It being a Sunday, we lucked out and found a cheap place to stay on that wasn't normally available.
I'd bought the tickets for Schluderns since I knew it had a train station from the 2016 tour. In retrospect, Sponding would have saved us a couple of Euros, and was actually closer to Prato Allo Stelvio than Schluderns and not a significant climb. But upon exiting the train station at Schluderns, I spotted an ice cream and cake shop that I hadn't noticed before, so we had lunch there, along with ice cream and cake. Both were very good, so it wasn't a wasted trip.
The ride to Prato Allo Stelvio from Schluderns was pretty, traversing the narrow part of the valley. Once at Residence Ortlerhof, the friendliness of the staff overwhelmed us, as did the facilities. The room had a kitchenette, though we weren't able to use it since the supermarkets were closed in town on a Sunday. We had dinner at a nearby pizzeria, and for desert, cherries off the tree at the Residence.
The weather was cloudy and overcast, making it easy for me to believe that it was storming over Cortina D'Ampezzo. But I wondered how on earth was it supposed to be clear on the Stelvio the next day?


No comments: