The hundredth ringing phone in the middle of the week - usually does not herald anything good. Mariusz is calling, a momentary smile appears on his face: "Hi Bartek, how about a bicycle and photography trip to the Dolomites?"
This is how the plan for this trip was born. It fell on the Gardena Valley - the town of San Cristina to be exact. We more or less knew the area from the previous annual Enduro World Series in Canazei, we were sure there were spots to look for. The weather forecast gave us three days of sunshine - we had to make the most of it! Day 1
We left Bukowina Tatrzańska around 21:00, with a whole night of travel ahead. The initial plan was to take a short break after the trip - but as usual, plans change. After 12 hours behind the wheel - we arrived at Passo Gardena. The Dolomites greeted us with snow and a cloudy sky. We started of with breakfast in the car (toasts), quick terrain check and we were on our way to Passo Cir, the only trail on the hill around ferratas. I knew it would be interesting. Mariusz on his 29 '' Giant Reign, me on the Electric equivalent. The steep gravel road was surrounded by breathtaking views. The beginning of the trail is ahead of us - mountain pine, sharp rocks and a narrow path. In proportion to the altitude gained, the terrain was getting steeper and steeper, with more snow and rocks all around. There was no option to continue the ride, even on an electric bike. As it happens in every photographer's life the backpack is never gracious and weighs its own, also, I did not want to risk a fall. We decided that I would go on foot - we hid the electrician in the mountain pine. Mariusz took his bike on his back and so we marched up to the Cir Pass. We were surrounded by soaring peaks of the mountains, from time to time one of us threw short - "amazing". Looking around with delight in every direction. It was a real Mecca for photographers, Mariusz accepted every frame he saw with a big smile on his face. After reaching the pass, seeing the Forcell Crespein peak in front of us, despite the exhaustion, we did not have to think for a long time whether we were climbing it. Quick high-five and a selfie at the top, Mariusz is ready to go down. The route downhill had a lot of terrain exposure, snow and a lot of tight turns. The route is very steep - admitted Mariusz. When I was standing at the top, seeing the entire ride, I was very impressed with his skills. The passing tourists wearing crampons mentioned broken English "crazy man". This is probably the best comment. We checked in at the apartment, and went out for a pizza, after twenty-two hours on feet - 2 beers do the job of moonshine from our neighborhood.Day 2
9:00 am - toasts and Italian coffee. Weather as per order. Mariusz found a mountain called Pic - a fairly gentle peak, comparing it to the surrounding ones - it looked like he could go down from the very top without having hop off the bike. Moreover, the trail started almost from the door of our apartment. Initially, it led through the heart of the town of San Cristina - interestingly, we passed through a tunnel that used to be passed by a railroad. Currently, it is a tiny museum accessible to every passer-by. Later, an arduous driveway with narrow single tracks, alternating with wide gravel and asphalt roads, waiting for us. We got to a place where we joked that it resembled the lower Gąsienicowa station on Kasprowy Wierch. With slightly larger hills. The panorama presented itself: going clockwise: the 12th - cult Seceda, the third - the Passo Cir area where we were the day before, the sixth - the town of San Cristina, the ninth - our today's destination - PIC. There was almost nothing left of yesterday's snow, the aura of winter photos will change to autumn climate - I thought. Moving on, the trail stopped being as easy, we had to get off the bikes. Mariusz kept joking that aneMTB is good until you need to push it. I quickly understood the joke. Anyways, thanks to Mario for helping me carry that burden up the hill. At the top - chocolate, quick chillout and amazing inspiration for photos. Each surrounding us side had characteristic mountain peaks, beautiful terrain for the descent autumn climate. I just had to put it all together. After the first photo, we knew it was good. The descent from the summit was quite demanding with huge exposure on one side. I went first, Mariusz followed me after waiting a few minutes, which allowed me to find a spot and shoot photos during the trail. The track was quite technical but had an amazing flow, much smoother than the previous day’s one.Day 3
4:30 o'clock - ringing alarm clock. Our plan was the sunrise at the Seceda. A known place, characterized by a beautiful wide meadow with a ridge cut off by a vertical wall. Everyone knows how valuable each hour of sleep is, in order to save time and energy - we decided to follow the electric bike. The plan sounded quite light and pleasant - the implementation was a bit heavier. Gravel climbs turned out to be so steep that despite using the maximum assist mode, we had to drive at 100% to keep the "train" moving.
Despite the early hour, there was a lot of laughter. After reaching the top and seeing the Seceda ridge surrounded by a slowly waking day and a sea of mists pouring over the valleys - to put it mildly, we went crazy.
The first rays of the sun began to break through the mountain peaks, and we, trying to use the morning light - made some nice GB of material. A short nap surrounded by grazing cows and a bicycle traverse from Grani Seceda towards Pieralongia. On the trail, we passed a donkey farm that carelessly grazed among the vertical walls. Then we saw a place with two huge rocks in the middle of the valley, which looked like the letter M from the right perspective. We spent some time taking pictures and slowly headed towards the city. The route was rocky, but the fastest and smoothest, taking into account the previous ones we traveled on. The forecast was on point, in the evening the Gardena valley was covered with rainy clouds. The reward of our day was Italian pizza with the addition of hot soup. The only advantage of the rainy weather was that we left this place with a little less regret and headed towards Poland.
Writen by: Bartek Pawlikowski @pawlikowski
Rider: Mariusz Bryja @mariuszbryja