Sunday, August 10, 2014

July 12th: Cortina d'Ampezzo to Bruneck

Hina texted us a message during breakfast that she'd been discharged and was on the bus to Cortina. We gave her directions from the bus station, but then realized that we had plenty of time to finish our breakfast, get our bikes ready, pay for the hotel, and then meet her at the bus stop. Indeed, we did all that, walked to the bus stop, and found her there buying the 11:00am bus tickets. We greeted her, and walked her back to the hotel where she found her bike with a front wheel that could still roll but couldn't really be ridden. We said farewell to her, forgetting to ask her for her remaining electrolyte tablets, an oversight that would haunt us later.
From Tour of the Alps 2014
The day was gorgeous, and we rapidly gained altitude as we left Cortina and headed to Tre Croci. The signs by the road side advertised 12% grades, but looking at my altimeter, we never detected any grades above 9%, so it was just an example of Italy's cavalier attitude towards accuracy in signs. The climb was easy and filled with cyclists, many of whom were headed to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo climb, which we would decline to do as we were carrying loads and it was an out and back climb that didn't lead anywhere.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

Past Tre Croci, the road descends 200m and then resumes a climb to Misurina, which had a gorgeous lake which combined with the weather we had this morning, was nothing short of stunning. Lots of tourists abound, and we managed to get someone to take a picture of us.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

We stopped to use the public restrooms, buy lunch, and refill our water bottles and then eschewing the side-trip to Tre Cime di Laverado, descended to rejoin the main road which had lots of heavy traffic.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

The main road had tons of traffic, it being a Saturday morning, but most of the traffic was heading into the mountains, not away from them. Nevertheless, having become used to traffic-free travel, my nerves started fraying and I switched to the dirt bike path along the road which hadn't seen any signs of improvements despite my 7 years between visits. After a while, Arturo joined me at a lake side where there was a park bench and we had our picnic lunch, our first in several days.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

Past the picnic area, I remained on the bike path while Arturo took the road, but to my surprised I was quickly routed onto the bike path between Sterzing and Innichen! Realizing what had happened I called Arturo, figured out where he was, and waited until he got to where I was. It's rare that the bike path is faster than the road but this was one of those cases.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

This part of Italy has amazing bike paths, almost the equal of Austria's for the simple reason that culturally, it's still a part of Austria despite having been separated from it for almost a century. We noticed cyclists wearing tags and numbers going the other way, and soon found ourselves riding into a rad-marathon, which is the European term for a century or other organized events. Unlike club centuries in America, rad-marathons are huge events with sponsors, giveaway bags, stores, huge music stands. Unlike a Fondo, however, they're not timed bicycle events, so don't have some of the crazy baggage associated with those. We saw lots of folks on mountain bikes, and while some people were obviously going for speed, many were just casual riders who were just out to have a good time on a bike.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

We walked through the rad-marathon start/finish area, and stayed on the road until Bruneck, which looked like a nice town that Arturo wanted to stay there. It was still early in the day, and I would have been ready to roll on, but at the information center while looking for lodging only 4 places turned up with availability. Arturo reminded me that the day before in Cortina, Hotel Montana had filled up by 4pm, and that convinced me to stop early. None of the hotels in Bruneck had availability, but across the bridge in Stegen was Hotel Zum Hirschen, which had excellent reviews on TripAdvisor for the food. It never takes me long to agree to a hotel if it had good food, so we went there and found that they did have just a few rooms left. They weren't willing to give us a half-pension for just a one night stay, but they were willing to lock up the bikes in their cellar.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

We walked to the Messner Mountain Museum at the big Castle in Bruneck, and found that it was very well done, with not just exhibits of Messner's expeditions, but replicas of actual mountain huts and living conditions in various mountain ranges all over the world. There were even declarations of Messner's philosophy on the Alps:
From Tour of the Alps 2014

The view from the top of the castle was also outstanding, and I was glad that Arturo made me stop.
From Tour of the Alps 2014

On the way home, we stopped by the train station. The next day was supposed to be raining, and we wanted to check our options in case we needed to take the train somewhere. There were huge signs, however, declaring a train strike starting 6:00pm today, and going on through the rest of the weekend. That eliminated our excuse for laziness. It was nearly 100 miles to the foot of the Stelvio, so we would have to gird ourselves for a ride that long.
Dinner that evening was huge, as we ordered the sampler plate. Nevertheless, our light lunch and all that walking around made us hungry. Thinking that we'd have to ride 100 miles the next day, we demolished the huge plate, leaving but a half inch chunk of pork un-eaten.

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