One of my favourite places in the world to go mountain biking are the trails in the Dolomite mountains, on the north shore of Lago di Garda. Since we were introduced to this fantastic place ten years ago, we have returned almost annually, to explore the seemingly limitless mountain biking, and to enjoy the energetic vibe of Torbole, a bustling town filled with cyclists, windsurfers, kitesurfers, hikers and alpinists.
In early autumn we were fortunate enough to return to the north shores of Lago di Garda, for a few days of biking. After riding the Stelvio Pass a month ago, I was keen to attempt to summit Monte Altissimo, for the second time. I remember attempting it the first time, and I distinctly remember that it was difficult. Having trained quite hard on our home mountain in Croatia, I felt ready to climb Altissimo again.
Climb up to Lago di Ledro
On Day One, as a warm-up ride, we decided to climb up to Lago di Ledro, using the legendary ‘Carpentari bike shop’ as our starting point.
Riding through Riva del Garda from Torbole, we started climbing on the northwest side of the lake, very near to the tunnels….
…made famous in the opening scenes of the Quantum of Solace James Bond movie.
We were able to enjoy views of the lake and mountains such as this….
…until we reached the newly renovated and incredibly scenic Ristorante Ponale Alto Belvedere, where we decided to lunch after climbing up to Lago di Ledro.
After enduring some crashes and boo boos….
…we reached the lake. After a quick selfie, we zoomed back down the mountain….
…to enjoy a well deserved lunch….
…with great views of Lago di Garda…..
…and great food….
Some impressions of Torbole:
Climbing Monte Altissimo
After a delicious pasta dinner, and a great night’s sleep, we awoke early to tackle Monte Altissimo. If memory serves, my first attempt was a gruelling 6 hour climb, and so I was anxious to get started.
The lower section of the climb winds through a hilly, residential area, which opens up into a vineyard, with vines that were hanging low with fruit.
The climb oscillates between slightly forested, cooler sections, and wide open, warmer sections with insane views of the north part of the Lake.
A view of the western shore of Lago di Garda, slightly to the south.
As we gained elevation, we were able to see more and more of the Lake.
The total elevation of this climb is 1694 meters. At this sign post, we had climbed 1030 m, so theoretically, we only had 664 meters to go. Or, to put it into perspective, the entirety of elevation that we climbed yesterday, up to Ledro. I dismounted here, to follow a peloton of other cyclists to a cold mountain stream to re-fill our water bottles.
At this stage of the ride, I was feeling alright. While I was happy to have over 1000 meters already climbed, the remaining over 600 meters were slightly worrisome. After downing some deliciously cool water, and eating a few sweet dates that Al brought with him, we resumed the climb.
I was happy to find some relief from the heat and sun in this shady forested section….
….when I heard a sound similar to this creature’s……
….and a guy buzzed past us on one of these….
To those who don’t know, this is what is called an E-Bike – or a battery powered bike, with an electric motor. The rider can choose to pedal or to switch on the motor and cruise. Alvi and I have encountered more and more e-bike riders over the last few years, including on the Stelvio Pass. It seemed a little bit odd to see the e-bike riders posing underneath the Stelvio Pass Summit Sign, pointing to the elevation or meters climbed. The cyclists (that is riders with bikes without motors) found it humorous that the e-bikers were jostling to get in line for the Stelvio Summit Selfie.
I am of two minds on this topic. I absolutely endorse any and all new technology that gets more people out into nature, doing any kind of sport. So, if e-bikes accomplish that, I am all in. On the other hand, e-bikes in reality, are no different than other motorized vehicles such as scooters, dirt bikes or even motorcycles. To that point, some safety measures may need to be implemented, such as speed limits etc.
In any event, on this particular ride, at this very moment, two more e-bikers buzz up to us….
…sounding like this….
A few moments later, five or six of these buzz up to us….
….sounding like this…..
One of the e-bikers seemed to be in charge of the big group, so I asked him if he knew how much farther to the top. Two kilometers he replied, and then proceeded to describe the remaining ride in great detail, including the sections with an increased degree of pitch, as well as any changes in the surface of the road/trail.
Riding two kilometers on a flat surface is no effort at all. Riding two kilometers uphill with a pitch of over 14%, is a whole other ballgame. And riding those 2 kilometers with a steep pitch, after already having ridden 19 kilometers uphill, is on another level entirely. And I was beginning to lag…..
Views such as these were a perfect reason to stop to take some photos……
Whenever I would ask Alvi if the pitch lessend up ahead, he would always reply, “Yeah, just up here, around this bend, it flattens out a bit”. As I had lied and said the same thing to a friend the day before, I knew full well, that the pitch would be super hard all the way up until the summit.
After stopping to chomp down a few more dates, with Alvi’s encouragement ringing in my ears, and with one final stop to take in the view…..
….we finally summitted Monte Altissimo.
After quick traditional Summit Selfie, we were thrilled to cruise back down to Torbole. After all was said and done, I managed to log in a Personal Best climb to Monte Altissimo – 3 hours and 48 minutes. Woot woot!
Stelvio Pass: 25.1 km climb 3 hours 52 minutes climb 2320 meters of elevation
Monte Altissimo: 21.1 km climb 3 hours 48 minute climb 1694 meters of elevation
Another lovely evening in Torbole was spent strolling and dining.
Recovery ride up to Lago di Tenno and Campi
Before packing up the car and heading out to the Prosecco region, we decided that we really wanted to squeeze in one final ride – a recovery ride, if you will, just to keep the legs nice and limber.
The plan was to climb 550 meters up to Lago di Tenno, then traverse the ridge, climb another 200 meters or so, up to Alvis’ favourite village called Campi, and then zoom back down to Riva del Garda, and then cruise back to Torbole.
Here we go! A nice and easy serpentine paved road north and west of Lago di Garda….
…past a vineyard where they were harvesting grapes….
…up to Lago di Tenno…..
…along the ridge….climbing 200 meters…past an apple orchard….
…up to Campi….with impressions such as these…..
..then sweeping views such as these on our super fast downhill…..
…back down to Riva del Garda….
…and winding up back in Torbole.
As always, we had a fantastic time in the Lago di Garda area. The rides are awesome, the views breathtaking, and the vibe in Torbole is perfect for us! We are already looking forward to our next visit!