Head for the hills: leaving Corvara for the first of the Maratona’s great climbs. Photograph: Freddy Planinschek If you can catch your breath, the Maratona in Italy’s Dolomites is the world’s most beautiful bike race
Don’t forget to look up,” says Miguel “Big Mig” Indurain, the great Spanish cycling campeón , to the massed ranks of nervously fidgeting riders. We all laugh because how could anyone forget to notice the stunning sweep of the Dolomites unfurling above the forested valley behind him. But we know he’s right. Because for the next eight hours or so, most of us will be lost in a world of self-inflicted torment as we pedal agonisingly up vertiginous hills, only to plummet with our hearts in our mouths down the other side, before doing it again, and again… We are in Italy’s picturesque South Tyrol to take part in the glorious Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel . It’s one of the hardest – and almost certainly the most scenic – one-day bike races in the world.
Mountains and bicycles aren’t natural bedfellows. Defying the thigh-burning power of gravity tends to spoil what could be a blissful union. But the annual Maratona manages to celebrate the jaw-dropping beauty of this brutal landscape by sending 8,000 Lycra-clad riders up and down seven of its most famous peaks. And, despite the fact that almost every single one of us will spend the day cursing the absurdity of cycling uphill, none of us would have it any other way. The […]