My decision on whether to take a rest day or not was made the moment I got out of bed in the morning. I attempted to stand up, but my lower back protested, paining me as I attempted to straighten it out. On top of that my saddle sores and chafing cuts were still raw and sore. They were paining me even as I walked, so I didn’t want to think about how sore they would be when pressed against the hard edges of my saddle. I knew I could probably manage that pain, but pushing my back was far too risky. It was disappointing to have to cut the Trans-Dolomiti short, but I had to put my body first here. It had been a long road to recovery to get to this point. I needed to be careful not to undo all the good work I had done over the previous eight months.

Therefore I asked the hotel to extend my stay and over breakfast I set about planning the shortcut that was now a necessity to get back to Brixen-Bressanone in the allotted five days I had available to me. I still wanted to see the Cinque Torri (Five Towers) which I knew was supposed to be one of the most scenic areas in the Dolomites, so I planned to continue following the Trans-Dolimiti up to the Cinque Torri and beyond to the Averau Rifugio, a fourteen kilometre, 1,225m climb from Cortina d’Ampezzo. This was a bit of a gamble considering my back, but I planned to then shortcut from there to the town of Arabba, which would lop a whopping sixty-eight kilometres off the Trans-Dolimiti route, replacing it with my own twenty-six kilometre shortcut with far less climbing. With the plan in place, I relaxed for the day.

I put my shoes on the windowsill in the sunshine and hung my still wet clothes by the window, glad that I would now have a chance to let them fully dry.

Letting my cycling shorts and shoes dry in the morning sunshine

When my cycling shoes had finally dried out (the curse of travelling lightweight and only bringing one pair of shoes), I went for a stroll around the peaceful, pedestrian streets of Cortina d’Ampezzo, photographing the beautiful town and its stark backdrop of limestone mountains.

The view from my hotel
The backdrop of mountains which surround the town on all sides
A close-up of one of the many charming chalets
The limestone peaks almost looming over the town

Considering I had the day off to relax, I decided to make the most of it by stopping in a nice cafè by the main square. Here I sat back, relaxed and read my book while knocking back some espressos and enjoying a second breakfast of a Nutella tart. Once I was finished here, I migrated to a nearby restaurant where I enjoyed a cold beer and a carbonara on the sunny terrace. The food here was absolutely superb and I felt blessed that I had this opportunity to be out here after so long stuck at home in lockdowns.

It was a pity that Elana couldn’t be there with me, but considering she couldn’t get time off for a trip, I had purposefully chosen a reasonably hardcore route that I knew we wouldn’t be doing together ourselves some day. Still I endeavoured to come back to this part of the world with Elana some day, maybe on a hiking holiday as it was really leaving one hell of an impression on me.

A second breakfast of espressos and nutella tart
The view from the café terrace
A cold beer and a top class carbonara

After enjoying the great coffee and food, I spent the evening fixing the suspension on my rental bicycle. It had been set far too stiff, meaning that the twenty-kilometre descent the previous day had been much rougher than it should have been. I found a bike shop that was happy to loan me a suspension pump, and used that to set the fork pressure to a more reasonable level. I hoped this would make the descents over the last two days of my trip much more enjoyable.

With this taken care of, I got another takeaway pizza and a beer, deciding that three outdoor meals in one day was probably a bit much! By the time I was going to bed, the pain in my back had eased off massively and I was looking forward to tackling the remaining two days following the Trans-Dolomiti.

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