Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 7 - Arabba to Merano

After a fantastic day's riding yesterday, I wondered what else would be left to do today and once again Bo came through with a fantastic route.
As we looked out of the window it was another beautiful sunny day. We have been very lucky with weather and apart from a slight drizzle in Perugia we have only had sunny days. Temperatures have also been very good and ideal for motorbike riding.
Before leaving for each day's ride we always bond as a group as we load our bikes. We take longer than the other two bikes and Bo, Joy and Steve have been great in helping us get ready, carrying luggage and push the bike from "bad" spots. We have also matched well as a group. The total lack of whining of any kind by anyone of us also helps.
The ride in this part of the world is fantastic and as excellent as any of the other top spots we have visited. There are a lot of motorcyclists around and it is a pleasure to hear their sounds and see thei various colors and types. The BMW GS is by far the most popular bike although we do see a lot of Ducatis as after all we are in Italy.
Our first pass of the day was Passo Giau. There are 7 passes in the Dolomites and they are numbered. This is the sixth pass and the steepest at 2.236m. It is amazing that there is actually a bicycle race in which the competitors do all the 7 passes in the Dolomites in one day. We have been doing 2 to 3 on average and it is plenty.

At the top we stopped to take pictures, get a sticker and some postcards and we lost Bo, Joy and Steve who went on ahead. We would meet with them later in the evening when we arrived at the Castel.

The way down was even more pleasant as you can come down at your own speed and you are looking down to the valleys below. Everywhere you go things are very well taken care of and extremely well organized. I once spoke to a Finnish colleague of mine and asked him why is it that Finnish people are so well organized and planful which is very different from the Latin culture. His answer was quite logical ... He said that it probably comes from the weather (mainly lots of snow and ice) differences as in Finland if you do not plan for it when winter comes and you are not ready things will get very difficult whereas people in warm climates can always "wing" it as weather is much more "forgiving". These towns clearly get tough weather in winter so although in Italy, towns are very different from the ones down south.

When we left that morning we looked at the route and Bo had put in as tentative the Tre Cimme Di Lavaredo. They are at an elevation of 2,999m and they are one of the best-known mountain groups in the Alps. The road we would be taking was inside a natural park and it is a dead end on top of what is known as the Cima Coppi in the Giro d'Italia. There are hundreds of hiking trails and although it was not peak season we still saw a lot of walkers.
In order to arrive at the park we went around the Lake Di Misurina. The road literally hugs the lake and the riding is spectacular. I am glad we took this detour.
On the way down we saw a sign for a restaurant and as it was past 2pm we decided to stop for lunch. We sat outside among a lot of hikers and families. The ambience was very festive and the food was good too. The Dolomites were all around watching us.
Our next stop was on top of the Passo de Monte Giovo (Jaufenpass) at 2,094m. This is the northernmost pass in the Alps that is still in Italy. The pass road is very winding with many switchbacks. At the top there is a restaurant that later that day we learned that Bo, Joy and Steve had stopped for lunch. Paula enjoyed the cake show.
The way down the pass was very different from the way up as this was the "rough" side. Very little vegetation and colder temperatures.
As we got down to the valley and closer to Merano the air was full of a scent of apples and everywhere we looked there were apple orchards. Green, red and many other colors or so it seemed ... Apples everywhere. So much so that Paula got a craving for apple. So started to make plans to get some apples when in Merano.
The approach into Merano was slow as we decided to just go with traffic (there was a lot of it) and do not overtake ala Italian motorcyclists. We eventually got to Merano and our evening accomodation which was in a old castle.
And yes, there were apples in the room for the Queen Paula !
We stayed in for the evening and had a great "many-course" meal. Apple strudel with lots of vanilla cream please ...


Click HERE for all the pictures for Day 7


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