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Recommended Ride - Dolomites Loop

Recommendation Date - 11 March 2019

By Upt'North

In the spirit of Bikes And Travels I would like to put forward this day/through ride for anyone who ventures a little further afield. The ride was a day's ride for ourselves from St.Pauls in the Dolomites to ride the SS242, 243 and 244. You may well ask why these roads, so I'll tell you why. 

A few days previous Er'Indoors and moi were halfway up a French mountain on an overnight stop when an inquisitive German motorcyclist was wondering where we were off to next. In the interest of Anglo/German relationships I decided it was better to discuss the same than to tell him to mind his own business. 

He became very excited when we told him "The Dolomites" and insisted I fetch my map at once. Again I was probably more interested in finishing the bottle of red on the table but dutifully dug out the map and he insisted he drew all over the map with these directions. After much wine and back slapping I thanked the chap and we travelled onto St.Pauls the following day via Aosta. 

If you try to find these places on the map or notice different spellings it is because although this is Italy it was once Austria and the language more commonly used is German. If you think this is confusing imagine my surprise on my first visit years before when I walked into a hotel to request a bed for a night in pigeon Italian to be answered in German. For a while we were convinced we'd crossed the border without noticing.

Anyway onto the ride.

We set off early from St.Pauls towards this loop along the SS48. The early start was required because it was already 90 degrees F and it wasn't going to get any lower, so it was time to head for the hills. 

The SS48 is in itself a fabulous road with distant vistas and plenty of twists and turns to keep you alert. We stayed on here for probably three quarters of an hour before heading north on the SS242. Traffic was relatively light but there were plenty of bikes, cycles and the odd coach full of Japanese day trippers? 

The Pan European Honda set against massive almost vertical rock faces in the Dolomite Mountains

The road was a constant climb up to the Passo Sella at 2218m. Although it had its fair share of hairpins and too tight turns it was generally sweeping and open, a theme that would continue through the day. We stopped for the obligatory pictures and the restaurant you can see us parked outside of provided some early sustenance. We were starting to see what Heinz (made up name) was so enthused about.
 
After food and coffee it was time to push on to the 243 and the Passo Gardena at 2136m. We are in that vicinity where the picture shows the Pan parked at the side of the road and Er'Indoors looking around in astonishment and wonderment. The road was lovely and the temperature not too bad at altitude but still 80 plus and clear skies. 

Motorcycles, towering rocky mountains, cyclists, a bar and Upt'North's wife in The Dolomites

The bends were plentiful but for the most part open and flowing with enough scope to push on where you wanted to. The traffic had become a little lighter too and was mainly friendly waving bikers and no one seemed to be in too much of a rush.
 
The 243 becomes the 244 at Corvara where you head south to Arabba over the Passo Campolongo at a mere 1875m, before turning right on the SR48 back towards Canazei. This is near to where the last picture was taken and it shows the road going into the distance. This road takes you over the Passo Pordoi at a mighty 2239m.

A road winds between steep green hillside and enormous rocky mountain tops in the Dolomites

Everywhere we stopped there were motorcyclists from all over Europe genuinely ready to chat and at our last stop near to Passo Pordoi we spoke to a family group from Yorkshire. We were to bump into one of these again during a stop in the Black Forest a few days later. I remember his words now, "Don't ride with family". Might explain why he was now on his own.

The remainder of the day saw us returning to St.Pauls and an early beer where the temps were now 100+f. Beer really tastes nice when it's that hot.

Heinz was right in insisting we rode this area and we probably wouldn't have found the route without his insistent Germanic help. So lesson learned, don't fall out with folk who take you away from your wine because it might just be the best days ride in your life. IT WAS THAT GOOD!
 
If there is a better motorcycle ride in Europe i haven't found it. Yet.

Upt'North.   


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Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Thanks for posting Ed.
13/3/2019 9:28:59 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Looks great - probably too far away for me these days. When I get a moment I'll suggest my favourite Alpine and Pyrenees routes....
13/3/2019 10:04:26 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'd just move there Ian, save the travel. It's easy just... oh wait... Brexit, yeah, damn.
13/3/2019 1:53:21 PM UTC

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