We went out to Italy at the start of the month to have a go at the Maratona dles Dolomites. It’s been on Dave’s bucket list for a while, and he also managed to rope in Jon Woodhouse, editor of our mud-streaked sister site off-road.cc. “How hard can it be anyway?” was basically the pitch there.
If you don’t know the Maratona, then in a nutshell it’s the headline event in the Alta Badia region of the Italian Dolomites. Taking in six passes over 2,000m, including the the fearsome Passo Giau (9.9km at an average of 9.3%), the long route manages to rack up over 4,200m of climbing in 138km. If you’re not going up a great big hill, you’re going down one. Jon had never ridden a road bike up a proper mountain before, so it was a bit of a baptism of fire for him.
With 9,000 people on the start line, TV helicopters buzzing about and the equivalent of a whole county closed for the event, it’s a full-fat gran fondo experience. Our aim was to get around the long course (106km and 55km routes are also available) without dying, and preferably under eight hours. Watch the vid to find on how we got on (spoiler alert: we didn't die). The ride is through the most stunning scenery you could possibly wish for, with the passes winding between the sheer limestone peaks of the region. So when you're not staring at your stem, there's plenty to look at.
Dave was riding the Simplon Pavo Gran Fondo that we’ve recently reviewed on road.cc. You can read the review of the bike here, which reviewer Stu called “A pure cruiser, so subtle and comfortable that you might not notice until you stop riding.” Thanks to Simplon for the lend. Thanks also to Luis from High Cadence Cycling Tours for putting us up here, right by the start line.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.