For a couple of years now, I’ve been entering the draw for the Maratona dles Dolomites in Italy. There was just something about the Granfondo that had me hooked and I wanted in. I was lucky enough to be one of the 5,000 people selected to take part in the race (out of 32,400 people who had pre-registered for the draw). As happy I was to be selected, I was unable to take part in last year’s race. Luckily the organization let’s you withdraw and transfer the fee for the next year, and that’s what I did. And am I glad that I did. I had the most perfect active holiday last week!
This was most definitely a trip I’ve been planning the longest so far. I got a slot in November 2017, and then had to withdraw during the spring. Booked a hotel in October 2018, and then just… waited. And trained. And panicked and didn’t train, and then trained some more and tried to figure out how to get my bike to Italy! Turns out there was a little company really near to where I live that actually rents out bike boxes, so I didn’t have to buy one for myself just yet.
Fast forward to June, and suddenly it was time to travel first to Venice, Italy, and then up to the mountains to Corvara in Badia where we stayed for the Rider’s week. I had decided by that point that I really shouldn’t try to do anything longer than the Sellaronda course for my first time. Still, I had planned on joining some of the bike rides, but quickly decided that I might not be at the level that the others are, and I’d be best doing my own thing at my own pace. So after a quick check that my bike worked fine after the flight, I decided to tackle passo Campolongo first thing after breakfast on Tuesday.
I made my way first downhill towards the Maratona start, and then started making my way up. It was hard. Really hard. Coming from a land with no mountains and living at about 20 meters above sea level, if even that, it was a huge jump to suddenly go to those kind of elevations, haha. But I managed. Took me about an hour to get up. The scenery was so pretty! I especially loved the downhill part back into Corvara. Such a gorgeous view. I was so sad that my GoPro battery had died on the way up so that I didn’t get that part on video. Which only meant that I just had to go back up again to film the downhill, too, haha. And that I did, a couple of days later.
One thing I was worried about during the week, for nothing it seems, was what to do about breakfast on race day. Our hotel’s breakfast started normally at 7:30 and lasted to 10:00. I needed to wake up at 4:00, and I wanted to start making my way to my starting grid no later than 5:30, which meant that I was trying to figure out what I can keep in my room and eat before leaving. But for race day? Maratona bikers were able to get the same breakfast as normally, but from 4:30 to 5:30! Perfect! I even did a little happy dance in the reception of the hotel when I noticed the little sign about it, haha. So, after I had decided on what I should probably maybe most likely to wear the next day, it was time to go to bed early and at least try to get some sleep.
I was very happy with my ride. I managed to climb passo Campolongo a little faster than I thought at first, same with the descent to Arabba. The climb to passo Pordoi scared me, but it wasn’t actually too bad. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, but all in all I did it quite well and within the time frame I had planned (about 2 hours). The problems for me started when climbing to passo Sella. After that first turn? I had to walk. Almost all the way up. It didn’t feel good, and it certainly didn’t look good for me timewise, either. But there was no other way. Walk, walk, walk. Try to cycle. No, walk, walk, walk. Try again, again, again. Keep moving.
I tried not to go too slow so that I still had even a chance to finish within the time limit, haha! The downhill was easy, up not so much. I remember thinking that I’d love to take some photos with my phone, but I was worried that it would eat up any extra time I had to spend stopping once in a while. Luckily there were photographers along the route, and they took some awesome photos for me!
During the descent from passo Sella I remember wondering if I was even on the right road anymore, as I couldn’t see any other racers on the course. I kept braking every time I saw a person in case they’d shout at me that I was at the wrong place and I had to go back up, haha. Luckily that didn’t happen, and I found some Maratona friends when
finally making the turn towards passo Gardena. By that point my legs were just not into climbing anymore (and I was getting hungry – I think I ate a little too little for breakfast that day), and I had to walk even some of the quite flat parts of the last climb, but at least I made my way very slowly up, and finally I found myself at passo Gardena. Quick check at the time and I was so relieved to see that I had plenty of time to do that descent. And boy, it was heaven. It was quite challenging at the start! I loved it. Every moment, haha. My left hand was starting to turn numb, and my toes were freezing and numb, but I loved it. So. Much. Fun. But still, I was very happy to make that very last turn to the finish line!
5 hour 48 minutes 15 seconds after starting I was done. 55 kilometers around the Sellaronda. Yay!
When can I go again?