The Sella Ring - Day 3 in Canazei
On the third day in Canazei, Mother Nature gave rain to us. Our
goal was a classic loop of moderate length, the Sella Ring, which takes
in the Passi di Pordoi, Campolongo, Gardena and Sella, thereby circumnavigating
the famously beautiful massif called the Gruppo di Sella. The Gruppo
di Sella is right in the heart of the Dolomites, and is one of their star
attractions. We ascended the Pordoi in a drizzle that transformed
at the summit into solid rain; a rain of the type that makes the brain
think of hot tea, not descending. So hot tea it was. After
a pleasant if smoky stay in a cafe at passo Pordoi, the rain and the skies
lightened so we ventured out. We made our descent of the east side
of the Pordoi on very wet but clean roads - and what a descent it was!
The consistent pavement and banked turns inspired greater speed
and lean with each of the many turns. As we continued on to the Campolongo,
a light drizzle persisted, but as Sterling and I diced the descent into
Covara in Badia, the precipitation ceased and the roads became dry. This
presented a further, fun challenge, as we matched our speed to the improving
grip offered by the drying roads. We rode in fine dry conditions the
rest of the day and felt rewarded for our patience and perseverence at the
Pordoi. A quick stop for our only puncture of the trip in Covara preceded
our attempt at the passo di Gardena. At this point, we began to follow
the first portion of the route of the decisive 17th stage of this year's
Giro, and perhaps for that reason we rode it 'a tutto gas' (Italian racing
lingo that might translate as 'pedal to the metal' and more literally means
'at full gas'). It is a beautiful climb that doesn't require an overly
large cog in the rear. The passo Gardena saw us dally for photographs
and Tour discussions with German tifosi before we breezed the descent, rode
the relatively easy passo di Sella as a group and ended the ride with the
unbeatable descent of the Sella and lower Pordoi into Canazei. The Pordoi
provides the best possible conditions for descending: many tight turns, excellent
pavement, and good visibility for passing cars and using the left lane to
set up for turns.
Climbing the Pordoi in a light rain.
Sterling and Edwin survey the rain from the cafe on Passo di Pordoi.
Note the ubiquitous, large, cigarette-smoking German moto-tourists
in the background. This photo was taken before Fred taught Ed how
to wear a cycling cap properly.
A portion of the descent of the east side of the Pordoi. Despite
the rain-slicked roads, this descent was as fun as it gets.
Sterl hangs it out descending the Campolongo into Covara in Badia. Hey,
he's on the wrong side of the road!
One of the peaks in the Sella massif, viewed from the vicinity of
Fred smiles for the camera as we leave Covara in Badia.
The view to the south of the road as it begins to climb towards the
Passo di Gardena from Covara.
The view to the north from the Passo di Gardena. Thats dolomite
up there, folks!
The view to the south from the Passo di Gardena.
The four stooges: Fred, Mike, Ed and Sterl on Passo Gardena. The
German who took this photo was about 60 and a serious cycling and Tour
de France fan.
Looking back up one of the upper sections of the descent of the Gardena.
Fred, Sterl and Ed at the intersection at the base of the Gardena
descent and ascent to the Sella.
Climbing the Passo di Sella.
Climbing the Passo di Sella.
Ed and Sterl on the Passo di Sella.
The view of the Marmolada, looking south from the Passo di Sella.
Fred looking retro with a helmet cover as we begin the fabulous descent
of the Sella and lower Pordoi to Canazei. Check the brakes and tighten
the shoes - we're going descending! 8 months later Fred is still
trying to convince us that its cool to wear a shower cap on your helmet.
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