The Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park is unlike most other places on earth. The rugged peaks and wild streams that carve an unruly path down the mountainsides present an awe-inspiring backdrop as you tear along the spectacular singletracks and sections of the huge network of gravel tracks. For long adventurous rides and our product testing purposes, this unspoiled scenery is unrivalled.
From directly outside our base – the Hotel Escelsior in San Vigilio – there’s a section of singletrack that gently weaves its way uphill. It finds its way to the end of the valley at Pederü, where hikers flock to start their chosen routes. Head onwards from here and you’re in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park. For us, the end of the valley with its car park and rifugio is just a minor pit-stop before we hit the surreal mountainous landscape on the day’s test bikes. The surroundings change, with the rocks getting taller, sharper, and even more impressive. The summits are like the points on a crown encircling us and we’re deaf to everything but the gushing of the streams, the crunch of our tires over the ground and – on the days of E-MTB testing – there’s also the hum of our motors. Of course, as the climbs get steeper or the pace gets quicker, you can hear one or more riders breathlessly gulping down the thin mountain air. The climbs are certainly tough, and the descents definitely aren’t easy either, asking for skill and an experienced hand on certain trails. The rugged trails are the ideal testing grounds for conventional mountain bikes and E-MTBs, determining whether they’re fit for purpose and have the reliability for regular use – and there’s the question of how the motor will perform over the course of the ride. The route up to Rifugio Sennes is plagued by double digit gradients that scream for the assistance of an E-MTB.
Lago di Braies Enduro Ride
Length: 54 km | Uphill: 1.200 hm | Downhill: 2.400 hm | GPX File
The stuff that enduro-style dreams are made of, this route heads out from San Vigilio towards the picture-perfect Lago di Braies and then follows the Kronplatz Furcia trail back to San Vigilio. It starts with a mellow gravel track that weaves uphill, getting steeper the higher you get, before reaching the ride’s highest point, the Somamunt. The view is spectacular, so make the most of it before taking the trail along the ridge to your right. It narrows into an incredible singletrack, which you follow downhill, heading left through the Lärchental valley to Lago di Braies. From here, there’s a rolling route following a bike path and little lanes to Olang, where you’ll take a lift up to the Kronplatz before hitting the Furcia trail and its 120 turns down to the Passo di Furcia. The Ruis lift steps in here to get you back up to the Kronplatz (length: 4 km, 600 metres of altitude). Do it as many times as you like, then cruise back directly to San Vigilio from the top of the pass.
XC Loop around San Vigilio
Length: 30 km | Uphill: 603 hm | Downhill: 603 hm | GPX File
This route kicks off with a short and snappy climb to join San Vigilio’s waymarked ‘fitness parcour’ before joining a gentle climb on a gravel track. There’s a few turns and it’ll lead you towards Val Fojedöra. After around 5km you’ll reach the highest point of 1,600 metres, and from here you drop into trail number 19. It traces a line back and forth over the road so you’ll easily spot it. It then becomes the 19A before spitting you out onto the narrow, tarmacked road that follows the valley up to Rifugio Pederü. Once there, follow the mellow singletrack back to San Vigilio. Destined to plaster a grin on your face, this route is brilliantly accessible without ever verging on boring.
To Rifugio Fanes and back
Length: 35 km | Uphill: 842 hm | Downhill: 842 hm | GPX File
This route begins by following the narrow toll road for a gentle 13 km climb up to Rifugio Pederü in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park. Then it really gets started: the gravel track winds upwards to the welcoming Rifugio Fanes, with varying gradients and some pretty gnarly, churned-up sections of track. Turn at the top and take your pick from the many singletracks that dart off to the left and right. Certain sections might see you dismount and carry the bike as they’re just so technical. Eventually you’ll get back to the Rifugio Pederü and you can choose between a cruise down the tarmac or the criss-crossing singletrack that weaves back towards San Vigilio.
PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away prizes worth more than €20,000 among all participants of our reader's survey! Win E-MTBs from Focus, Moustache and Thömus and more! Click here to take part now!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer