Passo del Manghen - Day Four in Canazei
Our plan for this day was to drive to Cavalese in the Master to
do an out and back over the Passo del Manghen. The Manghen crosses
a broad, mostly roadless area between the Val di Fiemme and Val Sugana
south of Cavalese. It has been used by the Giro as an entry climb
to the Dolomites. The north side gains about 1000 or 1100 meters
elevation, the south side about 1500 meters. It's scenery is often
described as non-descript, but we thought otherwise Though the road
doesn't pass through dolomite, and thus isn't truly in The Dolomites, it
is a very beautiful area. The lower slopes on the north side are beautiful,
lush forests. They were reminiscent of forests along the north
coast of California, especially on this day which followed several days
of rain. The upper portions cross open grasslands, where the narrow
road elegantly switchbacks on itself repeatedly - which made for wonderful
descending on the return leg of our ride. The lower sections of the
south side follows a river - from high up the side of it's valley - along
it's relatively straight course.
The middle sections of the south side of the Manghen are very steep,
offering 12 to 15% grades. The upper sections are steeper. Due
to his low body weight and three chainrings, Sterling considered this one
of his best opportunities to put the wood to his travel companions. As
the gradient increased, so did Sterling's tempo. Soon Fred was left
choking on a powerbar and riding along side Sterling I soon found myself
at my limit, wondering how much longer I could survive the pain caused
by his torrid pace. It became clear that Sterling meant business
when he opened his bag of tricks and began holding me tight to the inside
on the hairpins, forcing me to heave myself up their 20% grades on my larger
gears. But as we caught a slowing Edwin - he had surged ahead on
the lower slopes - Sterling began to falter. He sought vainly for
my wheel as we rounded a hairpin and encountered a powerful crosswind,
whereupon I too reached into his bag of tricks and rode centimeters from
the edge of the pavement to deny him shelter from the gale. Soon the
sound of his pained breathing was a memory.
If you're going to get a parking ticket, at least it might
be from this Carabinieri.
A couple of views of the lower slopes of the north side of the Manghen,
where its very narrow strip of pavement passes through lush forests.
This is a very underrated climb.
One of the gorgeous hairpins in the lush forests on the north side
of the Manghen. That's Ed, Fred and Sterling continuing up the climb.
Here is Sterling upping the tempo on the north side of the Manghen.
The open fields up high on the north side of the Manghen. A
A view looking back down the valley that the north side of the Manghen
This was fun to climb and thrilling to descend.
Farm country can present unexpected obstacles. I had a run-in
with some cows on the other side as well. This area was also highlighted
by children playing with sheepdogs.
Sterl, are you checking out that cow's butt?
The Passo del Manghen.
The upper section of the south side of the Manghen consists
of large, steep, graceful swithbacks. From the summit the some
of the switchbacks are visible.
Mike and Edwin descend the south side of the Manghen.
This is Val Sugana, at the foot of the south side of the Manghen.
Gorgeous glacial topography! We grabbed some snacks and water
in the small town of Telve.
Edwin, Sterling, Michael and Frederick.
The effort of ascending the south side of the Manghen 'a tutto
gas' is clearly evident in Sterling at the summit. "Damnit Bunny,
that was fun!"
Our wonderful ride of the Manghen was followed by a leisurely lunch
and stroll in beautiful Cavalese.
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