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Da Treviso al Paradiso 

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by Allan, Konrad & Francesco 

  Day 5 - Monday 20th May

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Caprile to Canazei  (29 kms)

A 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 Passo Fedaia, and from what others 'in the know' had said about it, we'd know about it.  How right they were!

Now 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 Sottoguda 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 wanted to!

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 Antarctic.  

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 crashing down.

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 good.

So, a short day in terms of distance, but with the added effect of the rain and cold, a hard one.

Hotel details...

Hotel Cristallo


a marmot! Don't be tempted to take the main road all the way.  Go through the gorge at Sottoguda.  Wonderful.
a marmot! Hell, that was purgatory!  What a brute of a climb the Passo Fedaia is from that side - especially with panniers! But what a sense of achievement.

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