I ascended toward Passo Falzarego on the nearly deserted main highway. What a difference from July-August,when the road is covered with diesel-belching motorhomes and tour buses almost too long to clear the switchbacks. Soon I was up in the bright morning sun and I passed the turn off for Passo Giau at Pecol. A bit further up at 1724 meters I reached the left turn for Cinque Torri.
It's a narrow mountain lane, with barely room for the occasional car to pass a bike riding on the edge. After dipping down to Rio Falzarego and a brief flat spot, you reach the climb. This is one of the toughest little roads I've done: in the next 4 km you rise 412 meters. No big deal you say, it averages 10%, but it does it with a relentless series of 15-18% grapplings, with brief dips down to mere 8-9% in between. A had to stop and hyperventilate at least 4 times. No matter how hard I inhaled-exhaled I couldn't seem to get enough oxygen to power my legs. Once I stopped and got my gasping under control I could restart and pedal another 300-400 meters distance. Finally made it to Rifugio Cinque Torri at 2137 meters and stopped to take some pictures. A minivan full of French folks arrived, donned their gear and headed toward Torre Grande to do some climbing.
I enjoyed the steep descent (pavement is good but watch for loose pebbles on the centerline) and the lovely switchbacks back down to Cortina. This will be be a new benchmark for me to retry now and then. Maybe next year I'll be able to cruise up non-stop.
|Morning sun peeping into Cortina altopiano|
|Sun beaming through a notch in peak above Cortina|
|Turn left here for Cinque Torri|
|Tofana Group peaks|
|Tofana di Rozes (3225m)|
|Tofana di Rozes from higher up|
|Alpine meadows toward il Giau|
|Monte Averau (2649m)|