When we met Stefan in Brunico on 10th October 2014, it was bitterly cold. It was early and the sun had not yet risen behind the Sesto Dolomites. But that did not damp our spirits. We had simply perfect weather, as if we had ordered it, on the day when Stefan, a tri-athlete from Val Pusteria, set off to show us his favourite racing cycle tours in Alta Badia.
He smelled good. "That is the warming cream. It is perfect for a day as cold as this," he said, laughing. Stefan fetched his cycle from the garage, swung himself into the saddle and pedalled off energetically up towards San Lorenzo and Sales. Here the sun emerged for the first time and bathed the autumnal landscape in wonderful light. "Simply tremendous, these colours and not a soul out and about," called Stefan to us. "They are all too comfortable now to cycle in autumn, although this is the best time of year for it! If only they knew!"
Less than one kilometre farther on we came to a clearing in the forest and had a clear view to the Sass di Putia and the Fanes Mountain Group in the Dolomites. Stop! We want to film here! The lads from F-Tech, a local production company, which in fact earns its keep by constructing and marketing snow parks, set up their equipment and put Stefan in the frame. Now we learn what he does in real life and where he wants to take us today. "I am a technical consultant for a horticultural supplier and today we are going up the Falzarego and Valparola passes and then back to Brunico via Cortina and Dobbiaco. My super tour!"
Stefan was right. As we followed the route farther to San Vigilio and San Cassiano, we knew from the first glimpse why he considers this tour one of the best in Alta Badia. Up to here the road runs flat, the altitude changes gradually and what comes next is a miracle of curves with a pleasant gradient that is just unparalleled.
Every hairpin bend brings the Dolomites closer, the view becomes more awe-inspiring and at the Falzarego Pass you can touch the rock faces from the road. "It's crazy, it's just so cool here, don't you think?" asks Stefan grinning broadly. No wonder. The sun shines down from a blue sky. Thanks to the cold clear nights the view into the distance is a dream and the temperatures have become so pleasant, that we are all comfortable, even without warming cream.
But the dream is not over yet. A few metres farther on we reach the Valparola Pass and Stefan is exultant. "Cheerio!" he calls to us, jets past us and soon disappears out of sight round a bend heading for Cortina. What an experience!
Brunico (830 m)
Valparola Pass (2,196 m)
Brunico (830 m)
Distance: 133.8 km
Uphill: 2,431 m
Downhill: 2,426 m
The video of Stefan's Super Tour:
From Locals with Love - Rennradfahren in den Dolomiten | Itinerario bici da corsa nelle Dolomiti | Roadbiketour in the Dolomites from Bikehotels Südtirol on Vimeo.