Italian Dolomites Mountain Biking

Dolomites, Italy

Amongst looming, limestone crags and precipitous chutes, a cyclist facing the Italian Dolomites must find something peculiarly palatable in rides that include climbs of over 450 metres (1,500 feet) in less than 1.6 kilometres (one mile), using a trail that is a combination of broken paving stones, loose dirt and cobbly debris. Forty-five minute, hike-a-bike sections of trail and seemingly vertical traverses do have, however, a huge payoff of sheer, stunning beauty.

Knitted into 96 kilometres (60 miles) of mountainous terrain, the Dolomites hold a network of extensive trails that were purpose-built for foot travel, trekking and skiing. The climbs are long and require a triple chain-ring effort, but the scenery is sublime. Vertical towers of green rock jut skyward and are surrounded by lush meadows that, in the right season, are laden with wildflowers and mushrooms.

The Dolomites’ trails link the ubiquitous ‘rifugi’ (retreats) where weary mountain bikers can find affordable sustenance in plates of delicious pasta, a comfortable night’s sleep and, perhaps, a bit of camaraderie with other travellers to finish off each evening. Strategically placed within a day’s ride of other rifugis, these often rustic inns are typically no further apart than several hours’ walk, making them an ideal location to either finish the day or take a much needed break for a cup of tea or robust espresso. Reservations at the rifugis are advisable during the high season of the summer months.

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