With the coming of the Easter Holiday the snow is on its last legs and the Ski’s have been put away for another year. April in Italy is all about changeover as the resorts switch from their winter use of Ski and Snowboarding to their summer activities like hiking, paragliding and of course mountain biking!
First weekend of the bike park!
The Dolomiti Paganella BIke park is actually three small towns spanning a valley, interconnected by trails and they all have their own lifts to take you up on to the mountain. Due to it being the first weekend only the lift at Molveno was running known as Molveno Danger Zone. With Two lifts you can climb easily to over 1500m directly onto the stunning Brenta Dolomite mountains. Unfortunately lift passes for bike resorts tend to be quite pricey at around£30-40 per day, Dolomiti Paganella is no different at 32 euros per day however the longer you stay the more cost effective it gets as a weeks pass is 102 euro which is only 17 euro per day! Due to being in such close proximity to area I chose to purchase a season ticket. As I purchased it before the 1st of May i paid a pre-order price of 211 euro instead of the usual 245 euro. This sounds crazy expensive but when you consider you get access to all 8 lifts in 3 parks from April to November it is brilliant value.
Pass Pick up
I planned to wait to ride the park later in the week as I thought it would be really busy being the first weekend of riding. However like in the UK now we are having really nice weather so I couldn’t wait and headed over for about 11am on Sunday. First job was to pick up a new front tire from the well kitted out bike shop and collect my pass. There was actually a lot more walkers than riders so the queue to pick up the pass was reasonably long however on consecutive returns to the lower lift i could just swipe my card and gain immediate access to the cable cars. I paid a 5 euro deposit for the swipe card and i was all set!
The first lift of the season
The lift from the town of Molveno to the Refugio is actually pretty crazy and travels steeply up a cliff. I haven’t been on a lift like this in some time and definitely felt some vertigo! It’s very smooth and after the first minute I was having a great time relaxing and checking out the view. At the first lift station there is a great restaurant and cafe with a large grass viewing area and there was lots of walkers a riders hanging out enjoying the sunshine. I grabbed a quick drink and then rode the short section to the second lift to find it shut! Weirdly the lifts shut for lunch! So I picked up the “Blade Runner Trail” and headed back down to the first lift station.
The First ride of the season
The “Blade Runner” trail is a natural style trail through dense forest with some rocky sections, lots of roots and lots of dust! The trail is awesome however I definitely didn’t make full use of it as I was riding very sketchily! Being fairly unfit and weak with a lot of time spent on motorcycles I felt pretty wild to say the least! I had arm and back pump after the first 150m that plagued me down the whole trail. As the lower lift station was also shut for lunch I took the opportunity to head down to a lakeside cafe and enjoy a cold drink and a pannini.
With the lift now open I made my way up to lift two. Lift two is an open side two seater ski style lift that goes up a bit and then travels along for quite some time above the trail known as “Big Hero”. I could see tons of beginners roasting down this easier trail which is always great to see. I chose to just do a few runs of this trail to try get back into it and it did the trick. Being a super smooth and groomed trail it has tons of berms and pump bumps and is great fun! No scary drops, jumps or rock gardens here! I took the lift three times and by the last run i was feeling much better and more in control of my bike.
Straight off the end of the “Big Hero” trail you can just drop straight into “Blade Runner” and this is what i did! I have to say I felt much better on the second run of this trail and I caught up with a couple of Italian guys who had come over from Lombardy for the weekend. I think it was the first run of the season for them too as they looked as rough as i felt by the bottom of the trail! All in all a great first ride of the season and I can’t wait to visit the other areas.
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