Where the weird and the wonderful combine: Pioneer trip to South Tirol

Six cyclists — strangers until the day before — sitting in a hot tub on a hotel rooftop, watching a live stream of the Tour de France on a mobile phone. 

Six cyclists accidentally crashing a wedding by being the only people in the Edelweiss hut restaurant that weren’t guests at the wedding party. 

Six cyclists, jaws agape, silently taking in the beautiful views, wishing for a thesaurus in order to describe what they were seeing with new words. 

Weird and wonderful don’t have to be mutually exclusive categories, as our four Road cycling Pioneers discovered on this trip. They were joined by two members of the komoot crew, and as a group, they experienced some great riding, as well as some surreal moments. Luckily these only served to make the trip more enjoyable.

They were in South Tirol, Italy, based in a modern Bike Hotels property, Hotel Tofana (home to the legendary hot tub). Walking into the hotel was a good start to the trip, with its modern, angular architecture, crisp decor, and fabulous views of the Dolomites rising all around it. The mountains created a magical setting for the group’s stay at the hotel, but perhaps more importantly, some mind-blowing (and jelly-leg inducing) riding.

Together with their chiseled Italian cycling guide, Marko, Pioneers Neil, Claire, Jane, and Jack, and their komoot hosts Ian and El set off on their first ride of the trip: Sella Ronda. The route takes riders on a neat circuit around the Sella Massif, a striking chunk of  limestone that stands out against the other mountains. The route takes in four passes, climbing up to over 2000 meters (6561 feet), and then sends riders downwards and round nearly 100 hairpin bends. 

Along the way, there are pine trees, postcard scenes of cows and their cowbells, and sparkling mountain-water fountains galore. There are obviously the obligatory cafes too, where Italian coffee and apfelstrudels were bought and consumed with gusto. 

After all that riding, the three-course breakfast, including cake and fresh ricotta, the strudel and the cycling snacks had all been burned up, and no one had trouble devouring dinner back at the hotel.  

After a post-ride afternoon chill, the group reconvened in the hotel restaurant. A minimalist affair decor-wise, the restaurant provided a relaxed setting for getting to know each other better. Neil, the competitive-natured bike industry guy, Jane, the enthusiastic and passionate Scot, Jack, the bicycle frame builder and a ray of positivity (even bread is a wonderful thing to Jack), and Claire, an “insider” in the bike world too, and living proof that dynamite comes in small packages (she is small but strong)! The evening passed in a haze of traditional Italian food, from dumplings to pasta, good vino and bike chat. 

The next morning they were all up and ready for the next set of passes. The 50-mile (80-kilometer) ride via Fodom & Caprile was completely free of flat ground — only climbs (again reaching an altitude of 2000 meters (6561 feet)), and descents. Along the route, the long climbs lead them to scenic spots, such as an old fortress where the official border crossing for Austria and Italy once stood. Lunch was enjoyed in the tiny village of Caprile, before yet another big climb up to the most picturesque restaurant you can imagine. It was a no brainer that gelato would be purchased, to be gobbled up while seated in deck chairs, admiring the views. 

It was later that evening that the group took on the identity of “Wedding Crashers”. The Edelweiss hut, a rustic establishment set high on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road that’s usually closed in summer but had been opened specially for the wedding party. Knowing that komoot was in town, the local tourist board offered our group a seat at the table, so to speak. With a fantastic setting for our dinner and a merry atmosphere in the restaurant, there was very little to complain about. 

The final day of a successful Pioneer trip always comes a little too soon. That was the case for this trip too. Thanks to a great ride we were able to maximize the fun until the very end. 

Sunday’s ride saw the Pioneers leaving the traffic behind to do a little gravel singletrack riding. A long descent, lead them through a wide canyon of rock, across a river and onto the gravel track. It boasted all the fabulous views of the previous rides, sans the traffic noise. Quiet with great views — that was the note that this Pioneer trip ended on. Needless to say, everyone went home happy.

Check out the official komoot Collection of the weekend’s Tours around the Dolomites here.

Want to become a komoot Pioneer? Read all about how you can get involved here.