Sunday, 24 July 2016

Day 50: St Moritz to Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy. 300km 8.5hrs

Blue skies for the last few days have been marvellous.
A little drizzle overnight won't last.
One of the good things about traversing longish distances  is that the weather is likely to change
Today we are riding over the Bernina Pass, the Stelvio Pass- the biggest one of them all ( 2,757m  9045') Sella Pass, and passes in the Dolomites.

Our morning routine is very well established.
Most of the  packing is done before we have breakfast 
This morning our breakfast is overseen by a  huge moose.

Off we ride,
A day filled with hair pin bends.
Too many to count. 
At the beginning of most ascents and descents the number of tornanti  or hairpins is signposted.
Each corner is numbered and often the altitude is shown. I count them off.
48 tornanti on the descent of Stelvio. 

I prefer being outside of the curve and we can gracefully ride around,
Being  on the inside of the curve when ascending is another story.
It's like being in any tight space...
Slowly and cautiously my expert driver manouvres his loaded bike 'around on a sixpence'.
Plenty of practice today.

Beyond Stelvio pass we ride through a valley a with ' wall to wall' apple orchards.
Some are irrigated.
The fruit is ripening,
Fruit stalls with apples and apricots dot the roadside.
We stop for a break and agree that we will ride beyond Bolzano and on to Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomites.
In his blog Dick describes our adventures trying to navigate the short section of the Brenner Pass highway for a few km to take us to the old road.
It was worth it.
The old road took us through forested valleys with occasional views of the sinuous Brenner viaduct above.

We  stopped for coffee at Gardena.
Picture perfect villages with colour coordinated flower baskets on the public buildings and hotels.
In the distance we could see the rocky peaks of the Dolomites.
What a treat we were about to enjoy.
More passes taking us high into the rocky mountains,
Over to Cortina d'Ampezzo.




Our first cappuccino after we crossed the border from Switzerland.
As we approached the border on the Swiss side a large truck with a rusty freight canopy was being checked by a guard with a heat sensing device. The truck was so poorly maintained that it drew attention to itself.  

Ascending to Stelvio pass. This section had 14 hairpins. There were many more.

Looking over the edge.
At the markets at the top of the Stelvio pass in Bormio. 
Many motorcycles - and lots of bicyclists. What a huge challenge it must be to pedal up this pass. 

Some more corners.
On some hairpin bends the stone barriers were damaged and had been replaced with red and white temporary plastic barriers.
Just reminded myself that I was excited by this and not afraid...

Many kilometres of espaliered apples grown close together. At first they looked like grapevines.

The 'paddle man' controlling the traffic at some roadworks.

An Italian Romeo club akin to those we saw many times in the USA. Men enjoying each other's company.

 Gorgeous colour coordinated flowers throughout Ortesei village in the Gardena Valley.
Oh my, unexpected grandeur. The Dolomites.



 Home for tonight - the sign said biker friendly and they were. A lovely welcome at the Franceschi Hotel. A family hotel with comfortable living areas and delicious food. We soon decide that this would be just the place for a rest day.

We have been on the road without a break since we left Helsinki. 
Perfect timing to have a rest day in this beautiful town Cortina d'Ampezzo.


jim kennedy said...

Hi Dick and Di,
We continue to enjoy your travels from the comfort of our lounge chair. Your pics are wonderful (when did Orlanda get red mirror frame???) and your writings are so beautifully stated, informative and downright fun.
Thanks for sharing your memories in such an impressive way. Safe Travels...

Diana Hubbard said...

Hi Jim, thank you for your kind comments. Orlanda wears red on her right mirror and screen to remind my driver to drive on the Right side of the road. So glad to know you are enjoying our ride. We will be back on the road Ne t week after a break back in New Zealand.