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.  


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Climbing the Pordoi in a light rain.


in the cafe

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.


pordoi descent

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.
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Sterl hangs it out descending the Campolongo into Covara in Badia.  Hey, he's on the wrong side of the road!
massif

One of the peaks in the Sella massif, viewed from the vicinity of Arraba.

fred in Covara

Fred smiles for the camera as we leave Covara in Badia.  

sella massif

The view to the south of the road as it begins to climb towards the Passo di Gardena from Covara.

passo gardena

The view to the north from the Passo di Gardena.  Thats  dolomite up there, folks!

sella massif

The view to the south from the Passo di Gardena.

the gang on the 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.

gardena descent

Looking back up one of the upper sections of the descent of the Gardena.  

base of the Gardena/Sella

Fred, Sterl and Ed at the intersection at the base of the Gardena descent and ascent to the Sella.  
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Climbing the Passo di Sella.

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Climbing the Passo di Sella.

passo di sella

Ed and Sterl on the Passo di Sella. 
passo di Sella

The view of the Marmolada, looking south from the Passo di Sella.  Wow.

fred on the 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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