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.




image    If you're going to get a parking ticket, at least it might be from this Carabinieri.

lower manghen               lower manghen

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.

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lower manghen toranto

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.

sterl on manghen

Here is Sterling upping the tempo on the north side of the Manghen.

upper north manghen

The open fields up high on the north side of the Manghen.  A beautiful road.



upper north side of the manghen

A view looking back down the valley that the north side of the Manghen road ascends.

switchbacks

This was fun to climb and thrilling to descend.
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farm country

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.
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Sterl, are you checking out that cow's butt?
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Whoa Nelly!

the passo

The Passo del Manghen.

upper southside swithbacks

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.
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Mike and Edwin descend the south side of the Manghen.

val sugana

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.

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Edwin, Sterling, Michael and Frederick.

sterl, manghen x2

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!"

cavalese

Our wonderful ride of the Manghen was followed by a leisurely lunch and stroll in beautiful Cavalese.
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