These are historic paths on which we are travelling in Toblach: the ascent across an old military road from World War I, the summit at the border between the Italian South Tyrol and the Austrian East Tyrol and in addition a bunch of Stoamandl as reference to the first and original Stoneman of Roland Stauder. The perfect ingredients for a bike adventure with guaranteed enjoyment.
Toblach has always been a connecting place. The basis for Toblach's development was the Strada d'Alemagna trade route, which connected Venice and Augsburg via the Puster Valley and Höhlenstein Valley. In World War I, the front ran across the mountains around Toblach. Whether you take the road or - like us - the old military roads, Toblach still links East and South Tyrol even today.
We start via the Höhlenstein Valley and soon turn off to the Silvesteralm. This is where the old military road begins, which was used to supply the front soldiers during World War I. The road will not be the only rudiment of this violent time on our path. We wind our way uphill turn by turn - always the mountain ridge in view. On the walls of some hairpin bends we see a blue Stoneman symbol and there are also surprisingly many Stoamandl beside the trails. But this will not surprise you much if you know that this is the route of Roland Stauder's original Stoneman trail. Soon we pass the base of the Strickberg, a stamp station of the Stoneman Dolomiti tour.
We finally manage the ascent to the Strickberg. Here we first want to catch our breath and enjoy the view - the Marchkinkele. With just over 2,500 m, it is one of the highest peaks of the Villgraten Mountains and is situated exactly on the border between East and South Tyrol - the Dolomites to one side and, impressively illuminated by the morning light, two of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo to the other. At the Marchkinkele, we can still see the remains of old bunkers from World War I – now emblazoned with an encouraging Stoneman slogan. This shows quite well how historical infrastructures are subject to constant change. Today, exciting mountain bike routes are more important than embattled peaks.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo always in view
Now it's time to start the descent. To get back to the Silvesteralm from the Strickberg, we have three options: all of them exciting, trail-packed and quite challenging. A good 700 altitude metres must be managed and the high alpine road structure requires proper biking technique. We start with a big smile on our face - after all, we can already see large parts of the trail ahead of us. The trail runs along a slightly arched ridge, meadows and gravel passages alternate, and as soon as we lift our heads, we have a direct view to the Dolomites. It is not so easy to concentrate on the trail. Time and again, we have to stop to enjoy the panorama so that we can focus on the trail again afterwards. But the trail also demands and deserves our attention, so diverse is the changing ground and gradient. After the first half, trees appear again – initially some pine trees, then the forest becomes denser and denser and swallows the trail and finally us. Shortly before the Silvesteralm we reach the forest path, which we cross leisurely. We take a breather and are looking forward to a good Italian espresso. We enjoy the espresso, with view to a small but beautiful biotope above the hut, on the sunny terrace in the afternoon.
From here we return to Toblach - of course not without making a detour to Lake Toblach. It is situated idyllically in the Höhlenstein Valley and really tough bikers can refresh themselves here after the trail tour. But beware - this mountain lake is fed by the Rienz river and its water temperature is not common Central European standard! After this detour, we enjoy an aperitif on the terrace with view to Neunerkofel and Birkenkofel. We read the map and smile because of the options which we still have here between Stoneman and Plätzwiesen, between East and South Tyrol, between Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Marchkinkele.