Category

Dolomites

Cyclist’s Guide to the Dolomites - Eat Sleep Cycle Girona

Cyclist’s Guide to the Dolomites

By Dolomites No Comments

Nestled in the north-eastern region of Italy lie the majestic, jagged peaks of the Dolomites. These ‘Monte Pallidi’ or Pale Mountains consist of magnesium-rich limestone rock which glows a shade of pink or even orange in the light of a sunrise or sunset and are truly a sight to behold. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to some fantastic cycling with the Giro d’Italia having taken more than 40 trips there since it first graced the region in 1937. Never boring, there’s barely a flat road in sight between the saw-like rocks which ensures that you can get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of elevation per km. In this post we’ll give you the lowdown on where to stay when on a cycling tour in the Dolomites, the climbs to tackle and the best time of the year to go

Where to Stay In The Dolomites

There are an array of cycling and sports-friendly hotels in this region owing to the fact that the ski resorts are keen to attract business of cyclists outside of ski season.

Cortina d’Ampezzo
Cortina d’Ampezzo is part of the Dolomiti Superski area but in the summer months becomes a playground for cyclists, it is home to the Passo Tre Croci, Passo Giau and Passo Falzarego climbs.

Corvara
The beauty of Corvara and the surrounding area was discovered in the 18th century by mountaineers who would accompany the first hikers up to the peaks of the Dolomites. These visitors were mostly geologists and natural scientists from Great Britain who were interested in the unique landscape of the Dolomites. Nowadays the cosy yet cosmopolitan village of Corvara is the undisputed Alpine tourist centre of Alta Badia.

La Perla Corvara
La Perla Corvara sits beneath the stunning Sella Massif and even boasts an exhibition area dedicated to Pinarello bikes.

Cyclist’s Guide to the Dolomites - Where to Stay in the Dolomites

Bormio
Whilst not technically in the Dolomites, Bormio is just a stone’s throw away and right on the doorstep of the legendary climbs of the Passo dello Stelvio, Passo Gavia, and the Mortirolo, so if you’re travelling to the Dolomites it’s well worth adding this area on.

Cyclist’s Guide to the Dolomites - Where to Cycle in the Dolomites

Where to Cycle in the Dolomites

The Dolomites are like a cyclists playground with no shortage of epic climbs to entertain you with some of the most popular (and challenging) below!

  • Sella Ronda Loop: 52km, 1,683m – perhaps the most famous ride in the Dolomites, the Sella Ronda Loop
  • Passo Campolongo: 5.8km at an average of 6% the Campolongo has some really unique and uncommon characteristics that set it apart.
  • Passo Pordoi: 9.2km at an average of 6.9% and never more than 7%. It also has a section of 22 hairpins in just 4.5km! Fausto Coppi memorial.
  • Passo Sella: 5.5km at 8% Passo Sella offers fabulous scenery including the Sella Massif walls and the magnificent Sassolungo Group
  • Passo Gardena: 9.5km at 5.3% average save your legs for this last climb of the day!
  • Passo Giau: Frequently featured in the Giro and also used as the penultimate climb in the famous Maratona del Dolomites sportive the Giau is a real challenge of a climb at 9.8km at an average of 9.4%.
  • Passo Tre Croci: 8.1km at 7.1%
  • Falzarego & Valparola: 12.2km at 6.3% with 17 hairpins!

Climbs in The Bormio Area

If you can travel to the Bormio area these climbs are well worth checking out!

  • Gavia: 17.3km at 7.9% rising to 2,621m of altitude.
  • Mortirolo: 12.1km at 10%
  • Stelvio: The Stelvio is one of the most iconic climbs of the Giro d’Italia and usually plays a pivotal role in the race. There are 20 hairpins on the climb from Bormio and 48 on the other side with steep ramps in between them!
  • From Bormio: 21km at 7%
  • From Prato: 24km at 8%
  • Umbrail Pass: 18.3km at 7.1%

Best time to Cycle in the Dolomites?

The best time of year to visit the Dolomites is between May – October

Cyclist’s Guide to the Dolomites - Best time to cycle in the dolomites

Dolomites Cycling Tours – Packing A Punch

The rich history and epic parcours that the Dolomites have to offer make it a perfect choice for those looking for a European cycling tour that packs a punch. As cyclists we seek out the suffering and the Dolomites bring it in spades – with high gradients and long ascents you are spoiled for choice. In addition to the fantastic riding, being in Italy means you are situated in the land of cycling-friendly cuisine as carb-laden Italian staples such as pizza and pasta are perfect pre-ride choice to make sure you never have to worry about bonking!

To find out more about our Cycling Tour of the Dolomites give us a call now on +34 972 754 301 or contact us online!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Journeys of a Lifetime

Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges: Journeys of a Lifetime

By Advanced Tours, Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees No Comments

Trans Cycling Challenges, Point to Point Challenges, Journeys of a lifetime – there are many different names for them but there is one thing that is consistent: a Trans Cycling Challenge is an unforgettable, epic adventure! In this post we will explore which we think are the best.

What is a Trans Cycling Challenge?

A challenging point to point ride by bicycle from one place to another. Riding from point to point has a long history in cycling, indeed, it is the basis of most stage races. Usually this is designed to showcase two different towns with the start and finish locations having requested and paid to be in the spotlight.

What Is A Trans Cycling Challenge - Eat Sleep Cycle

Can a Cycling Challenge make a Good Holiday?

But how do Trans Cycling Challenges translate to cycling vacations? There is a real sense of adventure in riding from A to B, using your bike to propel you from one place to another with an end goal in sight that is very different to simply riding loops out of one location. With the greater sense of adventure comes greater challenge and risk, and with that a huge sense of satisfaction from completing the journey.

Riding a point-to-point route means you get to see more, each day brings a new challenge, a new location, new scenery to enjoy from the saddle and new cuisine to enjoy post-ride, it is the ultimate way to get the most out of a cycling vacation.

Our Top Three Trans Cycling Challenges

So, now that you know what a trans cycling challenge is and that they can make for great holidays let’s now look at our top 3 trans cycling challenges – the Trans Pyrenees, the Trans Dolomites and the new kid in town, the Trans Andalucia!

Trans Pyrenees Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Pyrenees

This is the original Trans Challenge. The first ever Eat Sleep Cycle Tour was a version of our current Trans Pyrenees tour (from Girona to Biarritz) and it remains one of our absolute favourite routes to ride.

Starting from our base in Girona the journey takes you north to the Catalan Pyrenees and the beautiful La Pobla de Lillet before crossing the border into France the following day. From there, the route covers a total of thirteen cols including some of the most prominent climbs of the Tour de France; the Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque, Col d’Aspin and more before reaching the final destination – the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian.

The characteristics of the Pyrenees mean that the landscape is rugged and varied, making for spectacular views and stunning climbs and descents which then give way to the rolling roads of the Basque Country.

Trans Pyrenees Tour Highlights

  • La Pobla de Lillet –  a beautiful hidden gem in the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, this picturesque ‘pueblo’ is home to the Artigas Gardens designed by Antoni Gaudi and our accommodation of choice is El Castell de la Pobla de Lillet, a castle from the year 1297!
  • Col du Tourmalet – the iconic Col of the Tour de France is a must-ride for every cyclist looking to challenge themselves. This year featuring as a stage finish promising plenty of excitement!
  • The ‘Cirque du Litor’ – this is incredible section of road links the Col du Soulour to the Col d’Aubisque. Roughly translated as the avalanche circle, this is one of the last roads to open in Spring.

Looking for more of a Cycling Challenge?
The Raid Pyrenees is a 100 hour epic ride from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean via set check-points.

Trans Dolomites - Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Dolomites

The Trans Dolomites Challenge traverses the Carnic Alps to the Italian Dolomites and across to the Italian Alps. Bookmarked by the mighty Monte Zoncolan and the legendary Passo Mortirolo and Passo Gavia with a whole host of renowned climbs of the Giro d’Italia and beautiful scenery in between it promises to test and excite in equal measure.

The beauty of this route lies in the drastically varying landscape. From the stunningly picturesque limestone rock faces of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites to the characterful Italian Alps that contrast with their polished French counterpart.

Trans Dolomites Tour Highlights

  • Monte Zoncolan – the iconic climb of the Giro d’Italia, this beast is considered by many  to be the toughest climb in cycling!
  • Passo Stelvio – built in the years 1820 – 1825 this 48 km stretch of road connects the Valtellina in the south-west with Val Venosta in the north-east. Over 70 hairpins take the road to a leg-cramping 2,757 m altitude.
  • Passo Gavia – stunning, every changing, scenery and a pitch black tunnel characterise this 17.3 km killer climb. Perhaps best known for the heroic efforts of American Andy Hampsten who battled with apocalyptic, snowy conditions to seal the Giro d’Italia pink jersey in 1988.
  • Passo Mortirolo – synonymous with the late, great El Pirata – Marco Pantani – of whom you will find a tribute on the climb itself as you battle with the 10-20% gradients!

Meet our local Guide in the Italian Mountains

If you book a Trans Dolomites Tour then there is a good chance you’ll meet Mario, our local guide to the Italian mountains!

Italian Cycling Tour Guide - Mario - Eat Sleep Cycle

Name
Mario

Where are you from?
Italy – a little town called Conegliano, 40 km from Venice

Where do you live?
In my hometown

What drew you to cycling and why?
I’ve always be passionate about the bicycle. I started working for the French brand Mavic & I had to start practicing riding to be able to give feedback on the apparel and products I was selling. Since then it became my biggest passion.

What’s your favourite thing about guiding?
That I made a job out of my passion and the fact that I can share my time with people who share my same passion – it comes pretty easy to me.

Describe your favourite climb?
Lots of climbs & cold weather! There’s a pass called Passo San Boldo 10 km from where I live – its quite atypical, breathtaking with tunnels. I love mountains!

Tell me about the best meal you’ve had in Italy
My Grandma’s – torn between risotto & sausage & potato – she was also from the mountains so its a typical dish.

What do you do when you’re not cycling?
In the winter when its too cold to cycle – I’ve been a cross-country skier since I was a kid so when I have a chance I head to the mountains.

Trans Andalucia - Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Andalucia

The Trans Challenge new kid in town but already a firm favourite amongst both guests and staff, the Trans Andalucia challenge is a cycling dream. We recently waxed lyrical on this blog on the beauty of cycling in Andalucia, the smooth roads, the gentle climbs, the weather and the culture together make it a paradise for a cycling holiday.

Starting from Almeria and heading west to Seville via the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada, the ancient Moorish city of Antequera, Ronda & Arcos de la Frontera it is a tour filled with as much cultural interests as riding, not to mention the food!

Trans Andalucia Tour Highlights

  • Caminito del Rey – The 2015 Vuelta was the first road race to visit the ‘Pathway of the King’. Short and sweet is the best way to describe this 4 km climb. With ramps of up to 15% legs are likely to sting as the road winds its way up to a restaurant and a dead end.
  • Ronda – The mountaintop city famous for its Moorish history and the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge over a deep gorge which separates the new and the old town.
  • Granada – There is yet more history to discover in Granada famous for the stunning Alhambra, which started life as a fortress, before being transformed into a palace in the mid 13th century.

Trans Cycling Challenges – Start Your Journey Now

Each of the Trans Cycling Challenges about will give a cycling experience like no other and all of our tours can be tailored to your needs. If you’d like to start the journey of a lifetime give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Italy Dolomites Cycling

The Charms and Challenges of Northern Italy

By Dolomites No Comments

It may have been a few weeks since the mountain passes of Northern Italy brought drama to the Giro d’Italia but the impact of the iconic climbs remains just as strong. It’s difficult to separate them from the three week grand tour as they never fail to incite gripping racing but you don’t have to steam through them at the pace of a World Tour peloton to appreciate their might.

Just as the Giro is considered the ‘hipsters’ grand tour, the Italian Alps and the Dolomites, although hugely popular, are somewhere to go for something different. Many people have experienced the French Alps and the Pyrenees, which are considered some of the more traditional European locations for cycling tourism, but those who seek the road somewhat less peddled are looking to Northern Italy for their next two-wheeled adventure. The region offers a plethora of mountain passes which are both stunning and challenging in equal measure. Here’s a lowdown of some of the most iconic climbs Northern Italy has to offer:

Passo di Gavia

Over 20km long, with a maximum gradient of 16% and an average of 7% it is perhaps most noted for the 14th stage of the 1988 Giro in which American rider Andy Hampsten cemented his place in cycling legend by tackling a blizzard to ride to victory.

Passo Stelvio

The Stelvio is the highest peak in the Eastern Alps at 2,757m and if you climb it from Prato dello Stelvio there are a whopping 48 hairpins! This is a climb that should be on every cyclist’s bucket list but at 24.3km long with an average gradient of 7.4% it’s not for the faint hearted!

Passo di Mortirolo

The Moritrolo is synonymous with Marco Pantani and there is even a monument honouring “Il Pirata” located in Piaz de l’Acqua, 8km from the summit. The climb is 12.8km at an average of 11% with pitches up to 18% – Lance Armstrong described it as “the hardest climb I have ever ridden” for a reason!

Monte Zoncolan

Known for its steepness, Monte Zoncolan is the climb that shook up this year’s Giro d’Italia with Chris Froome taking an unexpected win after seemingly suffering up until that point. Dubbed “The Pink Dragon” after it was featured in the 2003 Giro it is definitely fiery!

Passo Giau

Frequently featured in the Giro and also used as the penultimate climb in the famous Maratona del Dolomites sportive the Giau is a real challenge of a climb at 9.8km at an average of 9.4%. The road is in fact relatively ‘new’, only built and paved in 1986 but nevertheless it is still just as revered as the other great climbs.

The rich history and epic parcours that the Dolomites have to offer make it a perfect choice for those looking for a cycling tour that packs a punch. As cyclists we seek out the suffering and the Dolomites bring it in spades – with high gradients and long ascents you are spoiled for choice. In addition to the fantastic riding, being in Italy means you are situated in the land of cycling-friendly cuisine as carb-laden Italian staples such as pizza and pasta are perfect pre-ride choice to make sure you never have to worry about bonking!

So, if you’ve already attacked the French Alps and passed through the Pyrenees or you’re looking for something a little different or challenging look no further than Northern Italy!

Stelvio Anniversary

Passo Stelvio & Eat Sleep Cycle

By Dolomites No Comments

Stevio has a special place in Eat Sleep Cycle history. Eat Sleep Cycle founder Lee shares why on our recent recce tour of the Dolomites.

Yesterday was a very special day for Louise and I and also a turning point for Eat Sleep Cycle.

At the crack of dawn and in single digit temperatures, we rode from Bormio into the clouds to reach the snow capped Stelvio peak. Since we rode this climb 3 years ago we have admired the photo canvas of it on our lounge wall and said “we need to go back there”. It is jaw dropping and beautiful, epic and so hard! I just love the way the scenery changes through the valley, after one set of switch backs and another and another…

Three years ago I had invited Louise to Italy for a cycling trip. It was the end of the race season and we wanted to get away and enjoy some leisure cycling. So I planned the Stelvio and Maratona routes of course. Louise had no idea what she was in for, but mountains would quickly become an important part of our lives.

The first morning of our trip we loaded up with my mountain powder (a horrible concoction of pure electrolyte and fructose) and hit the climb. The night before I’d had nightmares of her smashing me on the climb (which later became the inspiration for our Eat Sleep Cycle logo). At the top, Louise was freezing so we huddled up in the cafe up the steps. We rode down the other side and after some cake and 2 espressos shared our first kiss.

Yesterday was our one year anniversary and riding up Stelvio together was the best anniversary present for both of us. We rode up side by side from the Prato side and as a commitment to our future together stayed together the whole way up. This was all possible because Brian is back at base managing the HQ – without this man none of this would be happening.

Our trip to Italy has also opened a new door for Eat Sleep Cycle and we are excited about the future. We have been working in Girona and the Pyrenees and now we will work in the Italian alps and Dolomites too. These mountains are what made our brand and it’s where Louise and I forged our relationship so it feels exactly the right thing to do.

A few years later… our Classic Climbs of the Giro tour is up and running, as well as our epic Trans Dolomites Challenge. You heard it here first why Eat Sleep Cycle loves Italia! 

X