Tuesday 15th July
Today was going to be the “big” day of the trip as we crossed from Austria into Italy over the Dolomite Mountains and riding the Grossglockner pass over Austria’s Highest mountain. From the buzz of excitement in the group when we set off I knew that it would be a good day riding but I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
We arrived at the bottom of the mountain at some toll booths, all grouped together. We waited for all three groups to arrive before heading through the tolls, and we were told that as there was only one road we would all meet at the summit and it was every man for himself!
For my first impressions of the mountain road, it was very wide at three lanes (two lanes up, one down) and seemed to be quite a fast flowing set of gentle curves. As we wound our way up the mountain you could feel the changes in pressure as your ears popped and the mountain side got steeper and steeper.
After a few miles the road became more of a set of short straights with a hair-pin bend at the end on a quite steep angle! This took some getting used to on the porky Diavel, but it was more down to my ability than that of the bike itself. I had soon learned to take the corner wide and pitch it all the way over to turn the corner and could then gas it out making use of the traction control to propel me forwards to the next bend.
These switch backs went on for mile after glorious mile as we wound our way up to the top of the mountain, riding through the clouds and out into sunshine at the top! Although there was still snow on the ground (in July!) it was a nice pleasant 15 degrees and the air had that wonderful mountain purity at the top.
We were all buzzing with the amazing road that we had just ridden, and it was smiles all round as we all talked excitedly about our own experiences.
Robbie from the Scottish Ducati Club took some on-board video so you can see for yourself, but you really, really, really should ride this road at least once in your life!
Our next stop was the glacier on the mountain, the Pasterze. From there we took the other side down and stopped beside a beautiful lake near Cortina d’Ampezzo for lunch, where it now felt like it was at least 25 degrees in the sunshine by the lake!
After lunch we continued on our way to Bolzano by taking the Giau pass. This time the roads were not as wide or well surfaced, but just as twisty and steep going up the mountain. I would liken this more to riding through back roads over the moors in somewhere like Derbyshire or Cornwall, just with more mountain!
Crossing over the pass we took the road down which was unfortunately wet and slippery, so not much fun but again the traction control and ABS on the Diavel really helped to keep everything under control, and I’d switched down into Urban mode (100 PS) to save myself from any surprises!
Finally arriving in Bolzano we had to quickly head out for the evening entertainment with a Kart race, live band and BBQ, but the talk of the evening was more about the amazing roads we had ridden that day.
Distance today: 298 km