Undiscovered Dolomites — Auronzo Loop

Day 2 “Recovery Ride”

After yesterday’s “warmup” ride, I woke up sore and tired.  I barely wanted to look outside, but it was beautiful and sunny – not a cloud in the sky.  The storm system had cleared and we were in for some good riding if my body would cooperate.

Ajax suggested a loop south to see Lago di Pieve di Cadore, returning via Auronzo di Cadore and Passo Tre Croci.  The ride would be about 55 miles and would climb maybe 5000’.  I had done this ride in 2007 with Cicli Cortina owner Gigi on his 50th birthday.  It was scenic and beautiful and not too hard, so Ajax’s suggestion sounded good to me.  Along the way, we decided to explore east and see San Stefano di Cadore and Passo San Antonio.  So much for a recovery ride!

We got on the road south, descending gradually from Cortina.  The route was very scenic and soon took us to the view of this beautiful church, Chiesa San Vito di Cadore.

From there, we headed east.  As we exited Pieve di Cadore, we were treated a view of the beautiful Lago di Pieve di Cadore with the view of mountains in the background.

Just to prove we really did ride our bikes today, here’s a shot of Rudy and Ajax riding with these same mountains in background.

A few kms before we reached Auronzo, we headed east to explore the old road to San Stefano di Cadore.  This road had been abandoned and a new tunnel now carries all the automobile traffic.  The road had a lot of rockfall and Ajax managed to slice his tire, which later necessitated a side trip to Campolongo to the bike shop.

The road had a few tunnels.  These were quite fun without the thundering sounds of the cars.  Also, the tunnel has been abandoned long enough that stalactites are just starting to form.

The road followed a very steep river canyon.  In a few places, erosion caused sink holes which undermined the road.

The towns north of San Stefano were very beautiful and specialized in antique stores.  Climbing Passo San Antonio (1476m), we got this great view to the east.

The descent of Passo San Antonio was really fun with numerous very tight switchbacks.  I’d love to climb that side one day.

Auronzo was a beautiful town, one that I’d like to see in the future.  From Auronzo, we headed north up the Passo Tre Croci (1805m).  The views of the mountains were stunning, but considering how sore my legs were, all I cared about was getting to the top.

From the top, it was a great descent into Cortina where we enjoyed dinner at the beautiful Hotel Corona.

Although not famous, this ride was very scenic.  American cyclists often see the Dolomites west of Cortina and take in the famous passes – Giao, Fedaia, Sella, Pordoi, etc. – but you never hear about this area east.  There are many roads we didn’t try and I’d really like to explore again in the future.

Ride statistics:

  • Distance: 80.5 miles
  • 6943’ climbing
  • 2 passes: Passo San Antonio (1476m), Passo Tre Croci (1805m)

Some recovery ride, eh?


About bikealps

avid cyclist and photographer
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One Response to Undiscovered Dolomites — Auronzo Loop

  1. Tim Cox says:

    I am thoroughly enjoying these posts Alan! I’m planning an Alpine bike holiday next year and have been debating France vs. Italy. These posts have me leaning toward Italy. Keep up the great work – I know it’s hard to do, after a long day’s riding and, erm, post-ride activities.

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