Monday, January 28, 2013

My Guide to Cycling the Maratona dles Dolomites

The following story is used by permission of the author, Alwyn Jones, and was originally published in full story is entitled, "My guide to cycling La Marmotte and Maratona Dles Dolomites". If you also wish to read the La Marmotte section go here.

Before continuing onto the story note that the random draw for this year's Maratona already took late last year.  However, an additional further 190 entries will be sold online on on March 27th 2013, check there for details.

My Guide to Cycling the Maratona dles Dolomites

"My passion for cycling the most challenging and hilliest sportives I suspect comes from my roots living in the Conwy Valley in North Wales. Cycling up the steepest climbs we could find with our old Raleigh 5 speeds zigzagging our way up to the lakes above. Then suddenly the MTB was here and years of majestic riding and racing followed in the great forestry’s of North Wales.

Then suddenly I found myself in Lincolnshire, and my passion for MTB and cycling began to wane. Simply put; not enough mountains or even the modest hill! My friend however persuaded me to buy a road bike and suddenly my passion for cycling was reborn.

My first challenge was to cycle a 100 miles locally in the Lincolnshire Wolds which I enjoyed but was already hungry for the next challenge.

Then the challenge moved swiftly to cycle the hardest British Sportive over 100 miles, widely recognised as the infamous Fred Whitton Challenge.

Then after completing the Fred Whitton you naturally look for something even harder and I soon learned of ‘La Marmotte’ widely recognised as the most challenging of European sportives!

After completing the La Marmotte three times in the French Alps my focus turned to the Maratona dles Dolomites in Italy and still my passion for sportives continues.

The Maratona dles Dolomites is one of Italy’s greatest Gran Fondo style rides. It is televised live and ridden by some big name retired ex professionals. Miguel Indurain was in the 2012 event.

he Maratona is a mass participation event, and in 2012 attracted 31,600 applications for 8,800 places. Anyone can enter online at their website, but unlike the La Marmotte, it is a lottery.

I was drawn to this event looking for a new challenge for 2012, after in previous years participating in La Marmotte.

The event itself is not considered as hard as La Marmotte, due to the fact there is less vertical climbing (4190m) and it’s shorter in distance (138km). But the experience of riding in the picturesque and majestic Italian Dolomites and to ride up the same passes made famous by the Giro d’Italia makes this Gran Fondo a must do event.

There seems little rest bite from the off as you climb 7 Dolomite Passes. Namely Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Camplongo (2nd time), Passo Giau and Passo Falzarego/ Passo Valporola.

8703 cyclists started the 2012 event from LaVilla. Within minutes you are climbing the first pass the Passo Campolongo wheel to wheel, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of cyclists. Cyclists jump for gaps ahead, cross your path, cyclists shout out aloud for fear of losing their partners, and worse of all for me, braking and coming to gridlock as your going up hill!

1. Passo Campolongo

Average: 5%
Length: 6.15 km
Height: 1875m

Going up the next two passes Passo Pordoi and Passo Sella the crowds of cyclists slowly start to thin out. Passo Gardena follows with then a second ascent of Passo Campolongo which is much more enjoyable without the crowds.

2. Passo Pordoi

Average: 6.8%
Length: 9.4km
Height top: 2239m

3. Passo Sella

Average: 7.3%
Length: 5.5 km
Height: 2214m

4. Passo Gardena

Average: 4.2%
Length: 5.9 km
Height : 2121m

5. Passo Campolongo (a second time)

5.5 minor bumps on the way to

Once Passo Campolongo is completed the second time around a timely interlude from climbing with a faster section of rolling hills before the harder part of the ride begins with the relentless ascent up Passo Giau. Save yourselves for this one it’s the hardest part of the ride. After Giau the last long climb begins up to Passo Falzarego followed by the short extension up to Passo Valporola.

6. Passo Giau

Average: 9.1%
Length: 10.12 km
Height: 2236m

7. Passo Falzarego/Passo Valparola

Average: 5.4%
Length: 13 km
Height: 2192m

After Valporola there is only 20km left. Downhill to LaVilla and then a steady incline to Corvara to finish in a blaze of glory.

The Maratona in my opinion is a must do event. It is the best organised and value for money event I have ever done, at home or abroad. I’ve come away with great memories and I am already entered in Maratona 2013.

If you are interested in entering the Maratona in 2014 you can find all the information you need at their website

Yours in Sport
Alwyn Jones"

Strava Leaderboard for Maratona dles Dolomites here.

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