Cortina d'Ampezzo is a dream for mountain bike lovers. If you like cycling in the middle of nature, you will find plenty of trails, both asphalt and dirt roads, that will delight you.
In this article we will focus on "family cycling" and mountain biking, both traditional and pedal assisted bikes.
... electric bikes have attracted many people to this sport...
More and more electric bikes can be seen in the different trails. E-bikes are ideal for introducing to mountain biking those who don't want to struggle too much and those who lack training. E-bikes have contributed a lot to the revival of mountain biking, which is now truly accessible to everyone.
Whether you want to go on easy bike rides with your family, or you are looking for the adrenaline of the downhill rides, continue reading this article to find out what Cortina has to offer to mountain bike lovers!
The "Lunga via" of the Dolomites
First we want to describe the most known and popular bike path: the "Lunga via" of the Dolomites. It is often translated as The Long Way of the Dolomites, but we prefer to keep the Italian name. This road was a railway in the past, the train connected Calalzo di Cadore to Toblach. This bicycle path, which crosses the Ampezzo Dolomites and continues along the Val Boite, is one of the most scenic bicycle routes in the entire Alpine region.
This route is a part of the bicycle road that connects Venice to München and is considered the world's most beautiful bicycle trail. It winds for five hundred and sixty kilometers, three hundred and fifty miles, through three countries.
This part of the "Lunga via" of the Dolomites is a former railway, so it is really easy. The gradient is very slight and there are no sharp turns. It is ideal for those with children or for those looking for a road within everyone's reach.
The "Lunga via" can be cycled all year, but the perfect moment is during the summer. During the months from June to September there is also an equipped bus, called train bus of the Dolomites, where you can load your bike and make the outward or return journey without cycling. For more information, or to purchase tickets, you can contact the Cortina bus station ticket office. You can also get a lot of useful information on this official PDF about the Dolomites train bus.
The most popular variant, for those who have a car or plan to take the train bus, is the one that starts from the "Cimabanche" Pass down to "Calalzo di Cadore". Following this trail it is possible to cycle for fifty kilometres almost completely downhill, on a road completely closed to motorized traffic.
The road is always well signposted, its surface is divided into thirty kilometers of paved road and twenty kilometers of dirt road, mainly concentrated near Cimabanche. The former railway is also open to pedestrians, so you have to be careful of people walking along the road, especially in urban areas.
Family bike rides
For those with children the ideal trail is also the former railway cycle path, but starting from the center of Cortina. If the children are very young, it is certainly better to go north, towards "Cimabanche", for two reasons. The first is that you'll start uphill so, when the children will be tired, you just have to turn around, to go back downhill. The second reason is that there are some roads that have to be crossed, always on the pedestrian crossing, and these are all secondary, lowering the risks. After some kilometers the road becomes white gravel, but there are a few kilometers of asphalt. Considering that we are talking about small childs, they will probably be tired before reaching it.
If the children are a little older, but still small, you may prefer to go south, towards Zuel. In this case the paved road will be longer, all downhill and really panoramic. On the way back you will have to face a light and constant climb, but it will never be too tiring. There is one point where it will be necessary to cross the highway, but there is a traffic light, you just need to press the button to cross it safely.
If you are with slightly older children or teenagers, you should probably go north. The road is more panoramic and uncontaminated and, after a few kilometres, it turns gravel white. Continuing after Fiames you will cross a train tunnel and a bridge, which makes the route more dynamic and enjoyable. Even if it's a simple route, it is slightly uphill and, since there is no real arrival point, it could also become quite long. A pedal assisted bike might be a good idea.
If you are willing to leave Cortina the most popular family route is the Toblach-Lienz cycle path. It is a 49 km route, 30 miles, with intermediate stops, almost completely downhill and with return by train. It's really popular, so they are perfectly organised.
You can reach Toblach with your car, rent a bike, then cycle to Lienz, return the bicycle at the station and take the train to return to Toblach. If you want to use your bike, the train is equipped to board with your bicycle. The price of bike rental and train should be around €35 per person. For more information, you could consult this section of the official website of "Val Pusteria", but it's only in Italian and German.
There are dozens of breathtaking trails that cross our mountains. If you want to discover the most beautiful itineraries you should consult this fantastic map of all the mountain bike trails in Cortina. This map has been created by Cortina Marketing and it's really complete, even though a bit concise. If you'd like to consult it in paper version, you can grab a copy at the tourist Information Office, in Corso Italia.
We promised ourselves that we would describe our favourite mountain bike routes in detail, but for the moment we are very focused on the best hikes. Considering the limited time we have, we are forced to leave you with the promise that, in the future, we'll write about the best trails with the dedication they deserve.
Downhill is a growing discipline and Cortina is the perfect location to practice it. The area that is most friendly to this sport is Mount Tofane. To increase the users in summer the two companies that manage the area decided to create the Cortina Bike Park Dolomiti. It is a downhill park that includes over twenty-two kilometers of equipped trails, suitable for everyone, from beginners to skilled riders.
As proof of the quality of the park, in 2023, the location was selected to host the Coppa Italia Downhill, the most important Italian race. We had the pleasure of assisting, taking the photographs you can see in this chapter.
If you love this sport you can buy the Cortina Bike Pass. It is a ticket that allows you to use all the ski lifts, that are equipped for bike transport, in the summer season. For more information or to purchase the ticket online, please visit the official website of the Dolomiti Bike Park.
Renting the equipment
If you haven't brought your bicycle with you, or if you want to try a pedal assisted e-bike, you can go to one of the many rentals in Cortina. We always recommend booking it, preferably sooner than later.
If you are an expert cyclist, an idea that you may not have considered is to rent an e-bike for an eventual companion, so that you can ride together, using the motor to compensate for your partner's lack of training.
In this case, avoid too technical routes, as motorized bicycles are heavy and more difficult to steer and stop downhill, especially by those with little experience.
Let's start with a premise: the mountain is unpredictable, because summer storms are very common. They are usually more likely in the afternoon, especially on the hottest and most humid days. Thunderstorms are associated with sudden drops in temperature, for this reason it's better to ride your bike in the morning and always bring a waterproof and windproof jacket, to avoid surprises.
You have to consider that temperatures, in high mountains, are generally lower than in the plains. If you are planning a vacation in May or September, you would expect to find warm weather, but that's not so obvious. Always bring mid-season clothing, as well as light clothing. Even the sun could be sneaky, fresh mountain breeze might make you forget that, above 2,000 meters, the sun is notorious for burning, so you should always use sunscreen.
... once you have exceeded 6,000ft oxygen begins to thin out...
Cycling at high altitude is very demanding. Once you have exceeded 1,800 meters (6,000ft), oxygen begins to thin out, with the risk of being more fatigued than expected.
Remember that, in the mountains, it may not be possible to be rescued quickly, so we recommend that you always carry with you your phone, a pump, an inner tube, a Multi-Tool for repairs and a mini first aid kit. It might be helpful to also have some electrician's clamps for minor repairs.
... try to start on simply dirt roads...
If you're new to mountain biking, don't underestimate the difficulty: a trail that is tackled fairly easily on foot, on a mountain bike might prove to be challenging to climb and difficult to descend, because of the roughness of the terrain, which requires some experience to handle. Try to start on simply dirt roads, such as those leading to mountain lodges, before trying to go down a trail filled with roots.
Always remember that the trails, in Cortina, are not exclusive to bicycles, there are also hikers and you may run the risk of running them over, so use your head and go slowly.
We hope you liked this page on cycling and mountain biking in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read our home page, with all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo.
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