Singletrack Issue 122: Climbing Up in Trentino, Stepping Back in Time

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Pete and trials rider Ali Clarkson take the ‘easy’ option round the historic fortresses of Italy. Words & Photography PETE SCULLION With the early morning mist lifting slowly off the Dolomites, high in the Trentino valley, we try to shrug off the hectic last few days, knowing the next 62 miles will be the longest of our trip out to this northern corner of Italy, but also more than likely our last. Three vertical kilometres of climbing lie ahead, and I honestly hadn’t turned this many pedals since a stage race in the Holy Land some three years ago. Over a century prior to our arrival and as electricity as a concept was gaining momentum around the world, the Kingdom of Italy was but a baby at the turn of the 20th century. Austria-Hungary was one of Europe’s dominant powers, and this part of Italy marked the south-westerly extreme of that empire’s border. As the major powers fortified their borders, both Austria-Hungary and the newly formed Kingdom of Italy would follow suit, giving us the landmarks which we would be visiting on this ride. Power struggles and arms races pushed Europe to war in the second decade of the 20th century, and this part of the Dolomites would see a brief surge in hostilities before the front shifted and the guns fell silent. Many of the forts would be stripped of their steel in the ’30s until the Italian king intervened to preserve the memory of the Great War in...

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