Cortina d'Ampezzo, in summer, is a dream for cyclists. Whether you want to climb the steep Dolomite passes on a road bike, or you are a mountain biker who prefers to be immersed in nature, this is the page for you, as we'll discuss cyclism in Cortina.
... the mountain, for the cyclist, is treacherous because it's unpredictable...
Cycling in the high mountains is a sport that allows you to put yourself to the test: steep climbs, the weather is not always mild and oxygen is more rarefied. These are the perfect ingredients to find new challenges. On this page we'll talk separately about the road bicycle and the mountain bike, but before proceeding we would like to give you some general advice, which we recommend you to read, especially if you are at your first experiences with cycling in high altitude.
Paths for the whole family
The more obvious route for the whole family is the former railway cycle path. It allows you to go south, in the direction of Cadore, or north in the direction of Dobbiaco.
We would go north, in the direction of Dobbiaco, because the road is much more panoramic and is immersed in a more uncontaminated nature. The road is paved, but once you leave the town it becomes a dirt road, so you need to have a mountain bike to fully enjoy it.
If you head to Calalzo you will practically only find a descent and you can return by bus. You will have to contact the ticket office in the station of Cortina for all the details.
The former railway route is part of the Munich - Venice cycle path, considered one of the most beautiful cycling routes in the world.
If you are willing to move from Cortina, one of the most popular paths is the Dobbiaco-Lienz cycle path, a 49 km route, with intermediate stops, almost completely downhill and returning by train.
In this paragraph we want to answer a question: what are the best routes for road bikes in Cortina? Unfortunately, giving an answer is not easy. It depends how much training you have. Surely the most suitable road for those who do not want to exaggerate is the state road 51 of Alemagna, towards Cadore. This is a rather obvious choice. Consider also that this is the main road, so there is a lot of traffic.
If your train is at least intermediate, we take the liberty of suggesting a few other itineraries that we find interesting. All the planning has been done on the website komoot.it which we recommend you use to get a better idea of the proposed routes.
From Cortina to Toblach and back:
The first route will take you to Toblach, riding across the Cimabanche Pass and back. The route is about 60 kilometers, 37.2 miles, with a positive elevation gain of about 800 meters, 2624.67 feets and an estimated travel time of 3 hours. It starts from the center of Cortina, in the direction of Passo Cimabanche, to the center of Toblach, the return is by the same road. Alternatively, it's possible to return by dirt road along the former railroad track. The road, from a panoramic point of view, is nothing special, but it allows you to make a Dolomite pass without too much effort.
View the route sheet
From Cortina to Misurina, coming back through Carbonin:
The second route we propose will take you, from Cortina, to the splendid Lake Misurina, the largest lake in the Dolomites and one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Italy. The route is about 40 kilometers, 24.85 miles long with a positive difference in height of about 900 meters, 2952.76 feets, and an estimated travel time of 2 hours and a quarter. It starts from the center of Cortina towards Passo Tre Croci, then reaches Misurina and returns from Carbonin. From a technical point of view, the road is quite demanding, as the climb to the Tre Croci pass is quite steep. From a panoramic point of view, it offers beautiful views of the Tofana as well as the lake and allows you to do a good workout.
View the route sheet
Giau pass and coming back through Falzarego Pass:
The third route is undoubtedly the most demanding and will take you to visit the Giau Pass, returning through the Falzarego Pass and the village of Colle Santa Lucia. The route is about 60 kilometers long, 37.28 miles, with a positive difference in height of about 2180 meters, 7152 feets. The estimated travel time is 4 and a quarter hours. It starts from the center of Cortina towards Passo Giau, and then reaches the small village of Colle Santa Lucia, where you can observe the Belvedere with the monument to the memory of the Vaia storm. The return will be made along the Falzarego pass (altitude 2,105 meters a.s.l.) towards Cortina. The road, from the panoramic point of view, is breathtaking, but it is suitable only for those who have a good workout.
View the route sheet
Mountain biking is the most popular form of cycling in the mountains. It offers a greater contact with nature and the variety of tracks is way bigger. The mountain bike is also easier, more suitable for beginners and probably more comfortable, thanks to the suspensions which increase travel comfort, at the expense of some efficiency. Consider that, for the same amount of effort, with the mountain bike you will cover about half the kilometers compared to the road bikes.
Let's now take a look at some routes for mountain bikers in Cortina. These paths are designed for those with a minimum of training or for those who prefer
a pedal-assisted bicycle. All the planning was done on the website
komoot.it, that exists only in italian.
If you haven't done it yet, you should go to the Infopoint in the center of Cortina, as they have a beautiful map with all the routes to go mountain biking, also available online at this website.
From Cortina to "Pian de Loa" and back:
The first route we want to propose will take you from Cortina to Pian de Loa and back, passing through Fiames along the former railway. The route is about 15 kilometers, 9.32 miles long with a positive difference in height of about 150 meters, 495 feets, and an estimated travel time of one hour and ten. It starts from the center of Cortina in the direction of Dobbiaco along the cycle path of the former railway, and then deviates in the locality of Fiames in the direction of Pian de Loa, and then returns by the same road you came from. From a naturalistic point of view it is a relaxing excursion in the woods, without great panoramic points. The route from the point is suitable for everyone, provided with a minimum of training.
View the route sheet
From Cortina to Ospitale on a white road:
The second route we want to suggest will take you from Cortina to the Ospitale restaurant, one of the oldest inns in Italy. It also has a small church dating back to 1200. The route is about 20 kilometers, 12.42 miles long with a positive difference in height of about 350 meters, 1148 feets, and an estimated travel time of one hour and forty. It starts from the center of Cortina towards Dobbiaco, along the cycle path of the former railway, where you will continue to Ospitale. The road, from a technical point of view, is quite simple, with no steep climbs, but with a constant gradient throughout the outward journey. From a panoramic point of view, it offers discreet panoramic points near Ospitale, where you can take the opportunity to eat in the restaurant of the same name.
View the route sheet
From Fiames to Forcella Posporcora:
This is the most challenging route among those proposed, but it allows you to enjoy the splendid panorama from the Belvedere of Cianderou. The route is about 16 kilometers, 10 miles, with a positive difference in height of 500 meters, 1640 feets, and an estimated travel time of almost 2 hours. It starts from Fiames in the direction of Lake Ghedina, and then continues to the Crepe di Cianderou and returns from the Posporcora Pass. From a technical point of view, the ride is quite demanding, as the climb to the Crepe di Cianderou is quite steep. From the panoramic point of view it offers spectacular views of Cortina and the park of the Dolomites.
View the route sheet
On the Socrepes track, at the foot of the Tofane, a downhill track has been created where you can test your capacity. There are three routes with the possibility of climbing by chairlift. The Freccia nel Cielo cable car has also organized a route of downhill along the Col Drusciè so, if you are looking for a bit of adrenaline, you just have to go for it.
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. You will hardly be able to do a few kilometers without finding a climb, therefore it could be a good idea to make an inspection in the car, when possible, before leaving. Remember that, for example, tackling the Falzarego Pass means going from 1,200 meters (4,000ft.) to 2,100 meters (7,000ft.), with the risk of running out of air. In fact, once you have exceeded 1,800 meters (6,000ft.), oxygen begins to thin out, with the risk of being more fatigued than expected.
In any case, tackling a Dolomite pass is a great personal satisfaction, as well as a wonder from a scenic point of view. Not for nothing do several stages of the Giro d'Italia,the most famous bike race in Italy, pass through the Dolomites, and Cortina has repeatedly been selected as the finish of several stages.
... in the mountains, the asphalt is not uniform...
There are a couple of other points that needs your attention. First, as mentioned earlier, we recommend proper clothing; always pack gloves with long fingers, becasue braking with frozen hands is not easy, as well as one pair of sleeves and leggings for your extremities. Secondly, always remember that, in the mountains, the asphalt is not uniform. Cracks, potholes and, in some cases, poor maintenance are present.
The grain of the road surface on the Dolomite passes is coarser than that of city roads, so it offers less grip. Often, on the side of the road, especially in spring, there is a lot of gravel, a residue of that scattered in winter to ensure more grip on ice to cars.
Remember also that, in the mountains, it may not be possible to be rescued quickly, so we recommend that you always carry with you a pump and 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 going dirt biking, don't underestimate the difficulty: a trail that is tackled fairly easily on foot, on a mountain bike might prove to be tiring 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 all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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