#5MaratonasChallenge Day 1 - Starting in 1987

The first edition of the Maratona dles Dolomites was run in 1987. The planned route was 170 kilometres in length, and featured 5,300 metres of climbing.

On the day of the event, the weather forced the organisers to divert their route over the Pordio pass, rather than the Fedia pass. The distance was slightly increased, and the elevation remained unchanged. The challenge would still be an awesome day in the saddle.

The Gardena Pass Rolling out from the Ustaria Posta Hotel in Badia, the route heads up the valley to Corvara, and then onto the Gardena Pass.

Hazy morning mist rises off the valley, and the Sunday morning roads are beautifully clear.

It is a beautiful start to a second day on the Dolomite passes.

Passo Sella From Gardena, the descent is fast and clear, finishing at the base of the Sella Pass.

Up through the small car parks, full of hikers and climbers. The view from the summit is a stunning reward.

Pordio The climb to the top of the Pordio Pass is a series of hairpins, la…

#5MaratonasChallenge - The Warm-up Ride

Before the true challenge commences, a teaser was required. Something to warm the legs, and remind my body and mind of what it is like to ride on Dolomite mountains roads. 
Time to take photos, and spin the legs; before the long and difficult days begin.

A misty mountain dawnI wake from a good night's sleep, and open the shutters to reveal a mist-shrouded mountain landscape.  "The mountains are calling, and I must go."
Breakfast at the Ustaria Posta Hotel is a beautiful combination of Italian and Austrian inspiration; the mix that makes South Tyrolean cuisine so special, in my opinion.
Kit preparation follows: today's line-up comes from Mavic, with their special edition Izoard kit. It seems appropriate, given a spectacular day on the mountain the day before, watching La Course and the Tour de France.
Today's route card shows my planned ride over Furcia, Cortina and Valparolo.

Furcia FirstThe first climb of the day is the Furcia pass. A twisty road up through chalets and…

Review - Cafe du Cycliste Marine Lollipop Short Sleeve Jersey

The Marine Lollipop jersey from Café du Cycliste comes from the French brand's 'Colour Collection'. With a great fit, and some beautiful detailing, it is a real modern classic.

Café du Cycliste were one of the first brands that I reviewed here on Life In The Saddle. Back in 2013, I featured the Cafe du Cycliste Yolande jersey. Since those early days, both for the blog and for the Nice-based clothing brand, things have developed and evolved dramatically.

The Marine Lollipop jersey epitomises the growth of the Café du Cycliste brand; it uses many classic design features, but also brings in new and exciting features and fabrics.

Compression fit The Marine Lollipop jersey is sold as a 'Race-Cut' garment; with a low collar, and a compression fit. The fabric itself is a medium-weight, high-stretch material; this facilitates the close fitting cut, without making it uncomfortable.

According to the size guide, I should be a Small (96cm chest), but after trying on that size…

Weekend Watch: 'Not Far from Home' - Kona Bikes

I love this edit. Having seen the Kona Unit in the flesh earlier this week, it has inspired me to think about how I can get 'Far from Home' on a bike like this.

View the Kona Unit at Wiggle (Link)

Review - Vee Tire Roll-DIAC Tyres

I rack up a serious number of miles commuting on the bike, and the search for the perfect tyre choice is an ongoing pursuit.

Cyclocross tyres offer that extra grip and off-road adventure capabilities; but they are slow on tarmac. Narrow road tyres are more likely to puncture (especially with a pannier load), and they are less likely to grip in challenging winter conditions. With the tubeless Roll-DIAC Tyres from the Vee Tire Company though, I think I might have found the solution.

The Roll-DIAC is the same tyre as the 'Rain-Runner' in the current Vee Tire range; but it will soon be released in this new guise, featuring a larger 30c volume option (as tested here). The tyre promises exceptional grip and puncture protection, in all conditions.

Easily mounted up tubeless, using the Lezyne Overdrive Pressure Pump and Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex Sealant, the tyres looked good quality from the outset.

Out on the road, the tyres are impressively fast. The relatively light casing and …

Review - POC Octal X Cross-Country Helmet

When I tested the original Octal Road Helmet back in 2015, I was extremely impressed (read the review here). The Octal had some pioneering new looks, but it also delivered better comfort, protection and ventilation, than almost any other helmet I had worn.

The new Octal X cross-country helmet has been created with the same core principles as the Octal Raceday road helmet; including the impressive ventilation, featherlight weight, and a safety rating that is so high that it is no wonder POC Sports are often likened to Volvo.

Added protectionWhere the Octal X differs from its road counterparts, is in its additional safety features. The principle evolution is an extended helmet shell, which goes back further on the rear of the head. The extra protection is especially valuable because of the greater incidence of 'over-the-bars' accidents in XC mountain biking.

The aramid bridge design that has been introduced in other POC helmets, is also included in the Octal X helmet. This unique…

Introducing the #5MaratonasChallenge

The Maratona dles Dolomites is quite probably the oldest cyclosportive in the world.

The first edition, in 1987, was a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Societá Ciclistica Alta Badia-Raiffeisen. The route snaked over seven Dolomite passes: Gardena, Selle, Fedaia, Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Falzarego and Valparola. It took even the fastest rider over ten hours to complete the 175 kilometre course.

From the first edition, the route morphed and developed. By 1990, it looked significantly different: it was 184 kilometres long, and included the Valparola Pass, the Tre Croci Pass, Misurina Lake, the Cimabanche watershed, Cortina, the Giau Pass, Colle Santa Lucia, Caprile, the Fedaia Pass, Canazei, the Pordoi Pass, Arabba and the Campolongo Pass. Featuring over 5,000 metres, it was an incredible challenge to competitors.

As the years moved forward further, the number of Maratona participants grew and grew. The routes developed as well, but remained challenging ascents of multipl…