A long, and restful night of much needed sleep was had in preparation for some climbs over a couple of passes in the Dolomites. Sarah and I talked at length about altering the plan, given her running out of gas on the ride out of Longarone, but she resisted the suggestion that we delay or cancel the hills.
We chowed down on breakfast at the inn, then packed and prepared to ride. The bill was a bit high, mostly due to our large supper; we paid as much for dinner as we did for the room.
We headed west through Pieve di Livinallongo, which entailed a couple of minor climbs. We decided to ride over Passo di Campolongo and Passo di Gardena rather than Passo di Pordoi and Passo di Sella as we had planned. We covered the six or so kilometers to Arabba rather quickly, then made the right turn onto SS244 (strada statale della Val Badia) towards Passo di Campolongo. The climb was short and we were soon at the top taking pictures in front of the sign. The descent down to Corvara was beautiful; the Val Badia is gorgeous and under blue skies it was breathtaking. As we started up Campolongo Sarah had requested a food stop in Corvara, but we made it there so quickly that she opted for a stop at the top of Gardena instead.
In Corvara we made the left turn onto SS243 towards the pass. We were soon on a set of switchbacks, climbing at a steady pace towards the top. The Dolomite peaks are marvelous, reminiscent of the beauty of Yosemite. We spotted waterfalls down the faces of some of the peaks in the Sella group. Sarah, who was doing much better after a night of rest, and I talked about how much more impressed we were with the Dolomites than with Venice. About 3/4 of the way to the top of the pass we took a breather next to a bench overlooking the valley; the breather was more a photo-op session than a rest. It is great that they have placed benches along the switchbacks so that visitors can sit and enjoy the views of this valley.
At the top of Passo di Gardena we took the requisite photos under the sign then headed into the restaurant for some lunch. We settled on some gnocchi and followed that with strudel (Sarah enjoyed the strudel!). After lunch we prepared for the approximately 6000 feet(net) of descending to Bolzano. The first part of the ride down takes us to the junction with SS242; we stopped at that point and mulled over doing an up and back trip to the top of Passo di Sella but decided to continue down instead. Later that afternoon we concluded we should have gone up Sella. On SS242 it was a fast and pleasant ride through the Val di Gardena. In Ortisei we stopped at a public fountain to refill the water bottles, attracting the attention of a local, an older gentleman, who comes over to chat about cycling in the present and in the past. We were soon joined by a local road racer. Nice chat and break.
Back on the highway we had a slow trip through a tunnel (traffic tied up behind a small tractor) and then turned onto SP64 towards Castelrotto. There was a small amount of grousing as the ride on SP64 goes up a small, but steep in part, pass - Passo Pinei. From the top of the pass it is a nice drop down to Castelrotto, where we found some manual traffic control due to an event in town. We were permitted to go through places where autos were blocked, a nice advantage of being on the bikes. We opted to avoid Castelrotto, given the large crowds, and continue down towards the Val d'Isarco. The descent was long, not too steep, and would have been awesome were it not for large buses coming around tight, blind corners. Once we were in the Isarco River valley we made our way towards the center of Bolzano, a few kilometers of moderately busy roads past industrial sites.
Thr first order of business in Bozen (Bolzano) was to locate the Museum of Archaeology; we wanted to check out their exhibit of 'Fritz', a Copper-Age man found in an alpine glacier in the early 90's. The town center is all pedestrian-bike mall, so getting around was aided by the lack of competition from cars. After we located the museum we started the search for a nearby hotel. The Hotel Figl, on a small piazza just off the main piazza (Piazza Walther) fit the bill. Again the accommodations were newly remodeled, very clean and modern. Dinner was at a small pizzeria off Piazza Walther, just across from the cathedral. After dinner we had a pleasant walk around the cathedral and Piazza Walther before heading off to the land of nod.