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Sella Ronda

staffe's picture

By staffe - Posted on 04 November 2014

Planning next years euro trip and it seems like I'll be able to get some time in the Dolomites late july and it is time to lock in some places.

I think I'll be able to get one day dedicated to MTB and after a little bit of googling it seems like the thing to do is Sella Ronda.

A couple of questions to anyone who has done it.
1) Is Sella Ronda the thing to do or are there more scenic / better tracks in the Dolomites
2) As I understand it, it is a guided tour going up in gondolas and down on two wheels - right?
3) It is explained as moderate skills required. I'd be awesome to do it with my wife and son. Their skill level is such that they do the single track along mona vale road comfortably, tathra comfortably but they walk some sections of manly dam. Is that enough to do Sella?
4) If the family is not skilled enough to do it, is it possible to ride it including uphills and don't use any gondolas? (As weird as it sounds, I do like climbing)

Any advise is greatly appreciated.


TheOneRing's picture

I have been lucky enough to have been to the Dolomites twice, each time doing a 1 week 'enduro' style trip (ride 3-4hrs up a mountain in granny gear, have a huge lunch, then take the most direct route down and repeat each day on the next peak). The Dolomites are huge (in every sense) so there should be something to suit everyone. I can't comment on the Sella Ronda route specifically though.

One thing to keep in mind is the scale. A climb/descent could easily be 1,500m to 2,000m of vertical so there is nothing in Australia that compares. Equally, there is nothing in the Sydney area that can prepare you for how steep the single track can be, or the penalty for failure in terms of the sheer drops if you veer off the trail. 160mm bikes are the norm there. Anything less can get overwhelmed quite quickly. I was riding up and down the Ourimbah downhill as training but even if is pretty flat and groomed compared to some of the Dolomite trails.

I mention this, not to put you off, but to reset your expectations of what basic, intermediate and advanced could mean on a ride there. On the trails that we were riding, lots of seasoned bikers were doing a lot of walking. 'Moderate skills' in Italy may translate to being comfortable on trails that are far more technical and steeper than Manly Dam, for example.

A guided trip could involve a ride to the top or a cable car or a bus.

If you are going to be at the north end of Lake Garda at any point, you will have some family friendly options that will take in manageable, fun trails with spectacular views. There is a pump track style trail that slowly climbs up from Riva del Garda on the west side of the lake. You could ride up it as far as you like, then turn around and enjoy the descent OR you can pay for a bus to take you to the top and you can make your way down. It will take in lots of Aussie style fire roads with a loose surface that can be moderately steep (thinking Cascades trail in the loose stuff, off the racing line). There will be some single track with a couple of bits that the family will definitely have to walk and you finish with the pump trail all the way to the lake. The views are mindblowing.

If you did that trail, I reckon that you would be pretty happy and you would only need to hire bikes, book a lift to the top and grab a map.

staffe's picture

That's the kind of advise I was looking for, need to reconsider a few things.


MC's picture

I worked half a ski season in Campitello about 10 years ago and I've skied the Sella Ronda a dozen times or more so I know the route and the mountains really well although never seen it without snow.

So a few things to think about. It's about 55km round trip (10kms on lifts). On skis you can get around in half a day taking the lifts. On a bike you'd be looking at a big day out so might be a bit much for someone not getting all the way round the dam. 55kms is the distance on skis, so it might be closer to 70 on a bike?

As mentioned, the hills are big! There's 4 main passes to go over, each of which would be in the 800m - 1km+ vertical range, plus a couple of smaller hills. 4000m+ in total vertical. The lift out of Campitello up the Rodella goes up a vertical cliff band which you couldn't ride directly and it it's a long way round to avoid the lift. So you'd need to take that lift at least.

Be a fantastic day out for a competent rider! Sella massif is definitely spectacular and worth seeing.

staffe's picture

You're pretty much spot on, the round trip is supposed to be 65ks. Doing it without the gondolas is 4000m climbing. Seems like a good plan is to do the gondola tour on my own with a guide.


herzog's picture

I did a couple of weeks skiing the Dolomites about ten years ago, and did a few laps of the SellaRonda.

Bloody epic scenery. I've skied pretty much everywhere, and this place takes the cake for the most spectacular mountains anywhere. I will definitely do it on a MTB one day.

An italian guy posted a full MTB Sella Ronda loop on EveryTrail. Text is in italian, but there's photos and you can download the GPX.

Looking at the altitude plot, he used the Cablecars to maximise the fun. Click the link below and then click the Fullscreen option to get the stats.

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