Words by Andrea Securo
The Veneto Trail is a non-competitive bikepacking adventure and event that starts every June in the medieval walled town of Cittadella in Veneto, Italy. It’s organized by Andrea, Beatrice, and Antonio with the logistical support of the local MTB team.
The eighth edition of the Veneto Trail will start on June 24th, where a few hundred bikepackers will gather for the group start. Over the years, the event has grown considerably, so much that in 2022, foreigners from 20 nations accounted for 60% of the registered riders, while the first edition had more than 90% Italian riders at the start.
Every Veneto Trail includes a mix of doubletrack gravel roads, rocky sections, rough singletrack, and secondary paved roads. Despite the effort in scouting and planning the routes for the every edition, the route normally includes 30% pavement. This is due to the necessity of having some connections between the Prealps and the Dolomites without having massive ascents or tough hike-a-bikes. With that said, the route is always challenging, but it can be completed in less than a week.
It’s worth noting that no Veneto Trail route is the same from one year to the next. The only exception being the 2021 and 2022 editions, which were kept the same because of Covid-19 travel restrictions. So, even if you’ve participated before or just can’t stop thinking about doing it, come and ride with us in 2023.
As you can see from the 2021 rigs feature published here on BIKEPACKING.com, the bike line up is heterogeneous despite the trail being designed for mountain bikes. According to past riders, the route is usually also enjoyable on a monster cross drop bar-bike if needed, as long as you have proper gearing for the steep climbs. However, in the case of bad weather or heavy rain, the route will be very challenging on a gravel bike. We saw this in 2019, with lots of riders scratching due to the weather.
The 2023 Veneto Trail route mixes some parts of the previous editions with some new sections and starts going westerly instead of straight north to the mountains. The first mountainous area, the Asiago Plateau, will be approached from the Costo Vecchio climb, a long series of hairpin switchbacks, that leads up to the old railway that served the Asiago Plateau, now a nice gravel cycling path. Once riders reach the village of Asiago, they will ascend further towards the northern part of the plateau, which is more barren and characterized by karst landscapes, as well as numerous remains from the Great World War. The Marcesina Plain, one of the coldest places in Veneto during winter, feels desolate due to thousands of trees that fell a few years ago due to a massive storm called Vaia. Descending from the plateau, you’ll head towards the Trentino region, in a small portion of the trail outside the regional borders of Veneto. Here, the view of the enchanting Pale di San Martino and Primiero valley will delight you until Passo Cereda, another tough climb not to be underestimated.
From the pass, first through Agordo and then Alleghe, you’ll finally reach the central Dolomites and their fascinating landscapes. This section is not yet final as we have several solutions available, and it is really difficult to choose. Once to Falzarego Pass, the majestic views of Lagazuoi, Tofane di Rozes, Cristallo, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and many more will accompany you down to Cortina and then up to Misurina Lake, followed by a faster paved section through Cadore and Longarone. Arriving in Belluno, it will be time for the final climb towards the Treviso Prealps, enjoying the malgas and the views of the plains and the Venetian Prealps, often reaching Venice and the sea if the sky is clear. From here, a long descent will take you through several vineyards and the lovely village of Asolo before a short final push to Cittadella.
In case you won’t be able to attend the event, or you don’t like to ride with other people, you will be happy to know that the Veneto Trail route will be available online shortly after the event. By combining the 2023 route with the routes already published on BIKEPACKING.com in the surrounding areas, you can create a long and majestic adventure. The Veneto Trail is connected to the Asiago Loop, as a matter of course on the Asiago Plateau, and while in the Dolomites, it intercepts the Trans-Dolomiti route and the Venetian Prealps share some kilometers with the Veneto Divide. Also in the area is GranGarda, another loop that you can possibly add to your ride in northeastern Italy. Guides for all of those routes are linked below.
Registrations for the event will be open from January 7th, 2023, on the Veneto Trail website and will stay open until May 1st, 2023. We hope to keep the event accessible in terms of registration fees and inclusive, as well as full of different kinds of people, from the racers to the travelers. It is nice when everybody can enjoy it as it is, everyone at their own pace.
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