The Fassa Valley in the heart of the Dolomites is well known and in a sense important to most alpinists. Most serious climbers sooner or later climb some peaks in the area. The Violet and Sella towers are highly after sought.
Mountainbiking is pretty rudimentary. We met a few Germans bombing down fire roads on heavy full suspended Cannondales. We also saw some local kids on MTBs who seemed to think they were some kind of Hells Angels. On the other hand, in 2002, there were rather few bikers, and the bike shops were not particularly well supplied. We had to go down to Morena to get a good new tire.
Unfortunately camping is extremely expensive. Even the tiniest mountain tent will be charged some 20 US$ per night.
In July and August the mountains
can be extremely crowded even on 2000 metres altitude. Though, it
should be said, everyone seems to have a party and are very sociable.
Canazei is most famous for its climbing. However, there are excellent
possibilities for mountainbiking. There are plenty of high fire roads,
which are closed to cars (except for those with special permission) and
there is also some fine single track. Though the paths are not
constructed with mountain biking in mind. Some are extremely difficult
to negotiate by bike. Another factor, especially during high season, is
that it can be extremely crowded. Then, it is better to cycle
elsewhere, to search out some trails in some distant valley.
We did some shorter rides, up to Lago di Fedaia and the Violet Hut etc., and two epic rides in the mountains above Canazei. The Friedrich August Weg, and a circuit traversing the Nicoló Pass.
Friedrich August weg
The Friedrich August Weg is a rather exposed singletrack between the Zŕllinger Hut and the Sella Pass. Parts are so technical that there are a few metres one may have to carry the bikes. The path goes on over 2000 metres altitude under Sassopiato, Il Dente, and Grohman Spitze.
We went up via Campitello on a very
steep road. Then through the beautiful Duron Valley on a fire road that gets smaller
as one approaches the Duron Pass (2169). From the pass vi followed a singletrack
on or close to the ridge to the Zŕllinger Hut. We continued along
the Friedrich Augst Weg, meeting quite a fw astonished hikers who did
not expect cyclists up there, to the Sella Pass.
From the Sella Pass one freewheels on a serpentine road back down to Canazei. Pure joy!
Elisabeth at the Sella Pass
Up to the Contrin Hut is fire road. The lower section, as it climbs from the main valley is pretty steep. Then, it mellows out and goes htrough a high valley to the Contrin Hut. Beautiful views of Marmoladas south face. One of the Dolomite‘s most spectacular via ferratas goes up it west ridge, Via Ferrata della Marmolada.
As far as the Contrin Hut it is
easy going. Beyond one follows a narrow and rocky singletrack. Cycling
is reduced to less than 80 percent.
As one approaches the Nicoló Pass it gets easier. On the pass (2340)
is a hut with restaurant. One can follow the ridgeline north for almost
a kilometre towards Sas de Roses, before it get to rocky.
The descent from the Nicoló Pass is extremely steep. The first hundred metres are not bike able. Then, one comes down on the valley floor, and descends to Meida and Pozza on a mountain road. Very fast at some points.
Back to Canazei one can go on separate bicycle routes along the valley floor.
On Nicoló Pass
Elisabeth on Nicoló Pass
Would we go back to Canazei? Yes,
but not in a rush. Canazei is a friendly and beautiful place and there
is nice flavour of alpinism that we enjoy.