39km Costadedói to Cortina d’Ampezzo
We flew down the mountain that leads to Cortina this morning – doing a steady 50km an hour as we cruised into the valley and still racing cyclists were passing us. Zoom, zoom, zoom. Every couple of minutes another group sped by on their way to the bottom. It was a great feeling coming into Cortina, two days of hard climbing and three mountain passes later. We’ve been here every June for the last few years to curl with our friends and, after a year on the road, we can’t wait to see them again for a last time before we head into more unknown territory. Before we crossed our last pass this morning we rose at the crack of dawn and finished off the last few kilometers of climbing to the Passo di Valparola at 2,192 meters. The journey to the top wasn’t as tough as we’d expected. Sure, we still had to stop for a breather every few minutes, but the grade was gentle enough that we seemed to cover a good distance between stops. We’d gotten out of our tent and on the road early, so the temperature was still cool and we had the great pleasure of being the second and third cyclists to the top that day. We would have been first had it not been for one speed cyclist who breezed past us just before the summit. The view from the top was stunning. Peaks all around us with clouds floating alongside their rocky tops. A glacial valley off to one side. A green-blue lake just below the road. Cows in the pasture, their bells ringing as they grazed in the flower-filled fields. The night before we sat on a bench and just stared at the mountains for a good while. They are so beautiful they almost look surreal, too good to be true. Even though we have seen the Dolomites many times now, we never fail to be enthralled by them. Once we picked a campground from the several in Cortina we set off for a round of shopping, then lunch and an afternoon of relaxing by the tent. Books in one hand, beer in the other. It’s a tough life. Tomorrow the real fun will begin as we try our hands at curling once again for the first time in nearly a year. There could be some sore muscles!