to Canazei (29 kms)
grey and overcast morning, but that was soon forgotten about after a
wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs. Today was the day we were
tackling our first big pass, the
Fedaia, and from what others 'in the
know' had said about it, we'd know about it. How right they
some of you may be looking at this and saying to yourself - 29kms? -
That's hardly worth getting the bike out of the garage for. Well
let me just say, there's lots of ways you can do 29km's. For me,
this was done extremely slowly. I don't think I've ever ridden a
bike so slowly! I didn't know it was possible to ride so slowly
without falling off!
The climbing started almost
immediately we left the hotel door. We headed for
where we carried on straight through the village (off the main road
which goes off to the left). This is very important, as the next bit
of road is simply out of this world. There are some fantastic
sculptures of birds and dragons in the village (look out for the
woodpecker on the tree, with ants crawling around on the trunk).
Carrying on through the village led us to another 'closed' road, but
it's only closed to motor vehicles. This road leads steadily
uphill through a fantastic gorge (very narrow road). I say
steadily uphill. At the far end, there's a steep section which
gets you back up on to the main road. I say main road. We
only saw a handful of cars all day.
It was raining again now as we
started up the Fedaia Pass proper. Now my idea of these Italian
passes is all hairpins, not too steep, but going on for a bit.
This one's a bit different. For a start, it's steep.
Secondly, the hairpins are saved for the top section. On the
lower slopes, it's big long steep straights! I found these quite
psychologically draining. This was
tough. 14kms of unrelenting steepness. On our left as we
climbed was the huge hulk of the Marmolada shrouded in cloud.
When I at last spied the hairpins, I thought it might get easier, but
no. No doubt about it - the hardest 14kms I've ever ridden on a
bike (up to now). Just as we neared the summit, a camper van
passed and the driver leaned out and shouted encouragement. I
was on auto-pilot at this stage, and couldn't have answered if I'd
At the top (2057m), it was
bitterly cold, with a strong wind. We sheltered by some
buildings and changed into dry thermals, which made us feel
better. We then dropped down slightly and the road ran alongside the
Lago di Fedaia. Now I can remember us discussing this day from
the comfort of home and wondering if we'd perhaps get a chance to cool
off in the lake etc etc. How bloody stupid can you be! The
lake was frozen! I reckon you'd be pushed to last 30 seconds if
you fell in there. It was like a scene from Scott of the
We carried on to the other end of
the lake where, thankfully, the Rifugio Castiglioni was open for
business. Two large Alsatian dogs guarded the front door, but it
would take more than that to keep us from a bowl of hot vegetable soup
and coffee! The soup certainly hit the spot, and I must admit
that this is where I started feeling much better - at last.
We put on some more layers, and
set off on the long descent to
Canazei, stopping many times for
photo's. We were lucky to have stopped to take a photo just as a
ledge of snow fell from one of the mountains opposite and came
At Canazei, we booked into the
Hotel Cristallo ('cos it had a sauna ;-). €34 each, plus an
extra 6 for the sauna, and boy, after that day, did that sauna feel
So, a short day in terms of
distance, but with the added effect of the rain and cold, a hard one.