Ken Roberts - - Bicycling
also in this year
road bike rides around Tramin / Termeno in NE Italy
Tramin is located with some key connections for road bicycling: (a) the Sudtirol Wine road (Weinstrasse / Strada del Vino) along the hillside on west side of Adige river valley, with big views across the valley; (b) the Adige bike path (pista ciclabile Adige / Etsch radweg). In the midst of vineyards and apple orchards, surrounded by dramatic white cliffs.
It's on one route and very close to a second given in the book Cycling Italy, by Ethan Gelber (Lonely Planet, 2003), the best English-language cycle-touring guidebook for Italy.
We've heard there's also nice mountain biking nearby, but we're so busy with the road-bicycling (and hiking and climbing), that we haven't had time to check it out.
Also well-located for putting bike on car and driving to other interesting riding: (a) near Auer - Neumarkt exit on the A22 super-highway; (b) near SS48 for going northeast into the "heart" of the Dolomite mountains.
We also like that Tramin is in the center of a region of great hiking and via ferrata climbs which we can drive to in all directions. And we enjoy that there's a mix of both German and Italian language in the region around Tramin.
It has at least one bicycling-oriented hotel: Hotel Arndt
north to Kaltern + Bozen
loop 45-50km, about 200-250 vertical meters of climbing from Tramin to Kaltern, and finishing with 50 vertical meters of climbing from the Adige bike path west up to Tramin.
extensions beyond Bozen:
?? Perhaps could do loop going north on Weinstrasse / Strada del Vino to Kaltern to near Mendel-standseilbahn base station, return to Tramin by higher road -- very steep descent.
Sharon + I had a great time doing this, and I rode the upper Val di Non part again a couple of years later and still thought it was very enjoyable + pretty.
(There might be other interesting + pretty ways down thru the Val di Non which do not go thru Cles.)
About +325m climb and 11km distance from Tramin to the Mendel-standseilbahn cablecar bottom station (elevation around 525m) in Kaltern / Caldaro. Latitude-longitude of bottom station of Mendel-standseilbahn is roughly around = 46.40807,11.23477 = N46.40807 E11.23477.
About +600m of climb and 74km distance from top station of cablecar at Mendel pass / Passo Mendola thru Cles and Mezzocorona back to Tramin.
Total climbing roughly +925 vertical meters (+3000 feet). Total riding distance around 85km (53 miles).
non-cheaters way into Val di Non is to climb up to the Mendelpass (elevation around 1363m) from Kaltern, which is not real steep, but long enough
it adds +850 vertical meters and 13 km to the riding, for a total loop of +1775 vertical meters (6000 feet) and 98 km (61 miles).
south to Lavis + Trento
Never checked taking the train back with a bike. Never checked riding the Adige bike path all the way to Trento -- but lots of people do it.
Roughly 45km (28 miles) to Trento, with very little climbing.
Roughly 35km on bike path to Lavis, then about 38km on road route back to Tramin, for a total of 73km (45 miles), with around +300 vertical meters (1000 feet) of climbing.
Roughly 45 km on bike path to Trento, then about 46 km on road route back to Tramin, for a total of 91km (56.5 miles), with around +330 vertical meters (1100 feet) of climbing.
Roughly 21 km on bike path to Massetto near Mezzocorona, then 22 km on road route to Trento, then roughly 10km on bike path back north to Lavis, then 38km on road route back to Tramin. Total around 91km (56.5 miles), with around +840 vertical meters (2750 feet) of climbing, with sections rather steep, perhaps around 12-14% grade.
?? not checked: There might be some paved roads in the valley south from Tramin which would connect with the road route Mezzocorona - Lavis - Trento the hilly way east from Mezzocorona near Massetto, and perhaps a quieter road south from Massetto on the east of the river and the SS12 -- which would be some some ways to do more riding on roads and less on the Adige bike path.
We rode some other streets in 2009 from Trento to Gardolo, but they had more traffic than the ones used in the route Trento - Lavis - Mezzocorona - Tramin no bike path -- but it would be a way to avoid using the Adige bike path.
Val di Cembra
Leaves main Weinstrasse / Strada del Vino road around (N46.31113 E11.22304) -- but the climbing starts already a bit south on the main road around (N46.30167 E11.21747). High point of road around (N46.28338 E11.17275), but the sustained steep ends earlier. After that it continues down to Unterfennberg, but that didn't seem to add much that I could see (except some extra climbing to get back).
Total climbing from junction with main Weinstrasse road is about 842 vertical meters, or if include the low section on the Weinstrasse itself, about 915 meters (3000 ft). This includes a long steep section of about 693 vertical meters at around 8-10% grade (with some short steeper subsections).
Bottom San Michele all'Adige : (N46.19342 E11.13292) -> Faedo village : (N46.19257 E11.16078) -> thru Pineta to top : (N46.19874 E11.17234)
bottom : (N46.44286 E11.34364) -> key junction : (N46.47194 E11.36042) -> top : (N46.46453 E11.36595)
* Alte Jenesier Weg + Rafensteiner Weg under super steep
(see more climb challenges below under "drive car")
A ways higher up another section of the Alte Jenesier Weg leaves the main road around (N46.52705 E11.34091), turns right and includes a cobblestone section (N46.53497 E11.32999) thru the village of Jenesien (which I did not ride), then rejoins main road (N46.53824 E11.32941) and for more climbing.
Higher than that it there's an opportunity to leave the main road again, turns left around (N46.54191 E11.32218) and continues climbing up a narrow road (which I rode) to the top at Salten / Salto : (N46.55175 E11.30333). The upper sections are less steep than the first part, but it's a long climb, about 1125 vertical meters (3675 ft) in total
Includes a long sustained section around 23-27% with no rest, then finished at a ruined castle called Schloss Rafensteiner. It's roughly as steep as Scanuppia / Malga Palazzo, but not as long and with slightly better surface (though not great) as of 2010. Steepest long asphalt road that I know.
It has about 325 vertical meters (1060 feet) around 23% grade up to the castle, including 225 vertical meters (740 feet) around 25%. (based on track points captured both up + down, with my Garmin 60CSx w barometric altimeter sampling at 5-second intervals, with auto-calibration turned off).-
Starts around (N46.51437 E11.35307) next to Seilbahn Jenesien, castle around (N46.52583 E11.35671), then meets the main road around (N46.52148 E11.34532) . . . which could be followed to more climbing (less steep) to Jenesien and a final top where it hits dirt road at Salten (N46.55175 E11.30333) -- but I just stopped at the main road. Toughest road climb I ever succeeded on (only because my bike has vey low gears).
Having a car in Tramin takes advantage of its location near an exit on the A22, and near the SS48 road into the heart of the Dolomite mountains.
Note that significant parts of the driving distances below are often on difficult mountain roads and thru villages, so it's optimistic to plan on more than 75 km per hour average, even including significant distance on the A22.
Sharon and I have ridden the Sella Ronda twice now driving there from Tramin, first counter-clockwise from near Canazei, second time clockwise from near Wolkenstein / Selva di Val Gardena. Loved both, second time even better. A longer variation Ken did with Tony and enjoyed twice is to replace Passo Campolongo with Passo Valparola. An even longer variation is to also replace P Pordoi with P Giau + P Fedaia.
Or for a longer tour, ride to Kaltern and take Mendel-standseilbahn cablecar up to Mendelpass (see Val di Non above), then ride roughly southwest thru Romallo and Male to Madonna di Campiglio, then continue around south end of Dolomiti di Brenta, north thru Molveno + Spormaggiore, then exit bottom of Val di Non by "secret passage" [ see details + link to GPS | map on Bikely ] to Mezzocorona, then north thru Rovero della Luna back to Tramin.
Riding around the Brenta never checked by us, but for a detailed description see the very helpful guidebook Cycling Italy (Lonely Planet 2003).
Palu near Lavis
Delightful village at top, riding up thru apple orchards and vineyards. But especially it's a quieter pretty way into the pretty lower end of north side of Val di Cembra without climbing in the motor traffic of the main 612 road.
Could try riding Nave San Rocco (by the rail trail) > Nave San Felice > S up to Pressano > NE then turn S to pass by Serci and up to Palu. Then descend the same way, or to Verla in Val di Cembra.
Faedo near Mezzocorona
Pretty climb thru vineyards and a village then higher up into quiet forest. It's another quieter pretty way into the pretty lower end of north side of Val di Cembra without climbing in the motor traffic of the main 612 road. Or descending back the same way early in the morning was like I'd woken up in heaven, with the perfectly pretty vineyards and the giant view across the Adige valley with cliffs above.
steepness + size: see more details
Could try riding roughly east: San Michele > Faedo > Pineta > forest toward Masen
Truden from Neumarkt (Trodena from Egna)
Mainly a quieter alternative to climb from the Adige valley into Val di Fiemme around Cavalese without doing most of the hard climbing in the motor traffic of the major SS48 road (which connects to an exit on the A22) -- with some interesting villages and vineyards along the way. Lots on narrow asphalt road, some brick cobbles thru villages.
Could try riding Neumarkt (Egna) near the rail trail > Pinzan > Glen > Truden (Trodena) and the high point is just east out of Truden.. Then can continue and go down to Kaltenbrunn (Fontanefredde), or descend back the same way.
Remarkable narrow asphalt road high on the east side of the Monte Baldo ridgewith a wild feel and big views out across the Adige valley - (like from a balcony, so the name "balcone" is my fault). Two or three different ways to get up there, but one was closed due to rock-fall while I was there, so I'll talk about:
south: could ride north from Caprino Veronese > Spiazzi > Ferrara di M Baldo > Cavallo di Novezza and continue north on the "balcone" road toward Brentonico, or descend back the same way.
north: could ride south from Mori thru Brentonico (signs for something like "Altipiano di Brentonico") to Bocca di Navene and then south on the "balcone" road toward Spiazzi, or descend back the same way.
I'm eager to include climbing the south and descending the north as the later section of a grand loop counter-clockwise around Monte Baldo and including as an earlier section riding along the east shore of lake Garda.
Telegrafo on east side of lake Garda
Long steep climb challenge from Assenza or Magugnano up to Prada + Lumini. Comparable in steepness and size to the notorious Monte Zoncolan west side, but nearby lots of other interesting riding. Not a "pass" in the usual sense of the word -- just a shoulder on the side of the Monte Baldo ridge.
Sustained around 15% grade for about 800-850 vertical meters (2700 feet). Not much interesting variation in steepness or curves, just long switchbacks. Narrow. Also not much view of wonderful lake Garda, because of trees -- so you only get brief glimpses at the switchbacks. But after reaching the top, pleasant pretty gentle riding thru Prada to Lumini, and at least one possible pleasant descent from Lumini (e.g. SE down to Caprino Veronese).
We saw someone suggesting using this climb as part of a loop counter-clockwise around Monte Baldo -- but I feel that such a purely physical challenge is out of place in a ride otherwise focused on wonderful views and variety. Also I think the best way to do the loop is ride it counter-clockwise and to start early in morning around Mori (or Torbole) then ride down the east side of lake Garda (for best light for views across the lake), then ride the "balcon" around the east side of Monte Baldo in the afternoon (for best light for views east out across the Adige river valley). But then when you get to the long climb from Caprino thru Ferrara up to Cavallo di Novezza + Bocca di Navene, my legs are already thrashed from climbing up Passo del Telegrafo.
steep steep: Alte Jenesier Weg + Rafensteiner Weg
Steep section not as long as Telegrafo or Zoncolan, but much steeper. Rafensteiner Weg steep like the steepest section of Scanuppia / Malga Palazzo. Then can continue higher to other sections of Alte Jenesier, up and up a long ways to Salten.
the sick thing: Scanuppia + Malga Palazzo from Besenello
Steepest hardest long climb I've ever attempted. The steepest hardest long climb on a sealed-surface road in Europe (or the world) -- at least I've not yet heard any serious proposal for any sealed-surface road that comes close. I did not succeeding in climbing it -- gave up before I made it even halfway thru the 24% (or steeper?) section. So I actually don't know what's beyond that. I did measure the sustained 24% section I rode with my GPS with barometric altimeter (with auto-calibration turned off).
Beyond what I rode myself and measured, what I know about its steepness comes mainly from
www.salite.ch/scanuppia.asp - (except that the section I measured there with my GPS showed results actually a bit steeper than the same section on that elevation profile). That elevation profile seems to indicate roughly:
(note that the upper +660 meters just by itself would be one of the hardest climbs in Europe)
Also a few months ago I found this road on Google Earth, and calculated steepness from that, and it roughly agreed with the elevation profile on salite.ch
(There's a sign by the road which says "45%", but I regard that is the usual exaggeration of steepness by road-authorities everywhere I visit.)
Limited use? I don't know anything about laws and road usage customs in Italy, but I saw a sign by start of the narrower concrete road which might have suggested that using the road is not permitted for non-local residents . . .
I saw another sign on the wider asphalt approach road below the start of narrow concrete, which might have indicated that it was private -- I saw some kind processing plant by the start of the narrow concrete section.
On the other hand when I was there on my bicycle, some guy at the processing plant came out to help point me the right way when he saw I had missed finding the start of the narrow concrete road. And two cars passed me while I was riding on the narrow concrete road and didn't try to say anything to me.
So if you're not sure about how that applies to you, I suggest you check with some authority before you take the time and effort to travel to Besenello.
Finding the correct road is a little tricky. Hope this helps:
bottom of extreme steep: latitude-longitude = 45.94618,11.11815 = N45.94618 E11.11815
Another way: start in the town of Besenellowhich is a ways south from the major city of Trento in northeast Italy. Find the street Via Scanuppia (starts narrow brick, later changes to asphalt) and start riding up roughly northeast for about 400 meters until it meets another road. Bear Right to join the other road and climb roughly east. When get near a processing plant, turn Left onto a narrow asphalt road north over a short bridge - (do not keep climbing up that nice wide asphalt road). Just after the bridge the asphalt ends and the narrow road climbs moderately with the first two shrines along the right side. Soon sharp curve right (east) and there's a gate and then you're riding on 24% steep narrow concrete (soon a third shrine on right).
I interpreted the round sign next to the gate to mean "No mopeds or electric bikes" - (but I don't know much about laws and road customs in Italy).
Actually a better (but less interesting) "warmup" for the 24% steep section is instead of going thru the town on Via Scanuppia, instead start from the bottom (west end) of that asphalt road which the Via Scanuppia street meets, a road which runs around the north side of the town of Besenello -- but I'm not sure how to describe getting to it, though I captured at the bottom of that road: latitude-longitude = 45.94963,11.10735 = N45.94963 E11.10735
It's even harder . . . What makes it even more difficult is that much of the concrete surface is not "even". Not that it's "rough" (though in a few spots it is that) -- but that it's "wavy", like with very wide "ripples" in its surface. I suspect the this unevenness is intended to provide better traction when there is snow or ice. So using super-low gearing doesn't solve everything, because you have to maintain enough momentum to carry thru the low zone between "waves" (which might also have some erosion on it). Scanuppia is not just about muscular endurance, also balance and reacting to changes.
could get hurt . . . Stories I've read about people trying to ride up Scanuppia tend to include the number of times they fell off their bike. The main thing that made me give up was that as my legs got more tired I was more afraid I was going to fall. Therefore . . . Practice getting out your feet out of the pedals quickly. Have a plan for who you're going to fall onto a hard concrete surface without getting hurt. (And if you plan to continue, how you're going to get started pedaling again on such a steep slope).
Also how to get back down again. Good to practice in advance how to handle very steep slopes without going over the handlebars -- including the possible need to make a sudden stop on descent because of sudden appearance of an animal or uncoming car. And if it rains or snows, getting down could get dangerous.
(or Hoehenstrasse or Höhenstraße)
One of the great mountain view roads of Europe. I heard it was good from searching on Quaeldich.de. which even gave me some good hints about which sections would be best for me to ride. I rode it on a Sunday afternoon, and even with views of the higher snowy peaks blocked by haze, I still felt it was great -- so I put a (filtered) set of my GPS track up on Bikely.com -- see description + link + steepness + size info
Some further notes:
The main climb up from Aschau had some nice view lower down -- and then there are big views higher up after that initial main climb -- but in between was some long slogging up thru forest without much view.
I might consider doing it reverse, because it seemed that the road between Hippach + Melchboden was more scenic than the main climb up from Aschau -- so I might want to spend more time savoring those views. Also in reverse I wouldn't have the sun in my eyes so much -- though I also wouldn't get so many views of the snowy north faces of the high peaks to the south.
Riding north down thru the valley from Hippach to Aschau was nice -- but I had a strong wind in my face and it was getting ready to rain, so I was in a hurry. Next time I might want to take a side trip to visit the town of Zell am Zee.
Obersalzberg from Berchtesgaden
I had read claims on English-language forums that this climb was very very hard, like 24% grade sustained for over 2 km -- which would be much harder than anything I had ever climbed -- or even tried to climb. I'd also heard that the Rossfeldringstrasse which connected with it was a spectacular mountain road. So I was eager to try the climb.
I started at the bottom next to the lift that goes up to Obersalzberg, first with a warm-up south to Koenigsee and back. Then into the steep climb. I started it pedaling sitting. Kept on pedaling sitting. I was looking for the super-steep section, when I would be forced at least to stand for pedaling, probably "tack" or weave from side to side. Kept on pedaling sitting. A car with NL plates coming down the hill stopped just to watch me ride up the hill -- I guess it was steeper than any hill he'd ever seen, or steeper than any hill he ever imagined. Kept on pedaling sitting. Reached the Obersalzberg parking area for the bus to Kehlstein.
The climb was over and the road got rather gentle for a ways. I reached a junction, turned right onto the Rossfeldring road which went uphill. Kept on pedaling sitting.
Later when going down the hill I noticed two signs saying 24%. So English-language forums and the German road maps weren't just making it up or guessing.
Afterward I loaded points from my GPS (with barometric altimeter with auto-calibration turned off) onto my computer and analyzed them. It showed that the steep section was about +395 meters vertical over about 3.5 km distance (which agrees roughly with some data I took from Google Earth) -- for an average steepness around 11% grade. The two GPS data series (uphill and downhill) perhaps showed two short steeper sections, of +25 vertical meters around 19-20% grade and +27 meters around 18-19%. No significant section at steepness above 20%.
My conclusion is that the authorities who posted the steepness signs simply exaggerated - (like steepness signs I've found everywhere else I've pedaled my bike up hills and measured). And English-language forum posters and German map makers just took it literally.
After riding it and measuring it, I'm convinced: It's not really 24%. If you want to experience sustained 24%, try Scanuppia / Malga Palazzo from Besenello, Italy. I did, and it was overwhelmingly harder than Obersalzberg from Berchtesgaden.
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