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.
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.
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.
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.