The charm of an unusual ride: the Menador trail
Discovering one of the most distinctive and least trodden climbs in Trentino
Unexplored mountain roads are an endless playground for cyclists. The most popular itineraries usually cover secondary and tucked-away trails, better yet if little travelled by motor vehicles and cars.
The beauty of cycling in Trentino consists exactly in this: being able to travel long laps and go up big climbs where traffic is almost non-existent.
Starting from Lake Caldonazzo, you will come across a special climb that deserves to be explored by bike lovers. Its old name, Kaiserjägerstrasse, is interesting in and of itself. Not even its local nickname seems so much better: Menadór brings to mind a boxer who can knock you out with his right fist, but don’t get discouraged, the climb is doable and spectacular.
Fourteen kilometres immersed in a landscape dotted with huts and vestiges of WWI front line, having these sites served as the stage of WWI battles. In no time at all, you find yourself in an enchanted and beautiful place.
The first hairpin bends begin just outside the town of Caldonazzo and our recommendation is for you to get there after a good warm-up. If you take your car, the Menador climb will seem very steep. By bicycle, on the other hand, it is exactly how a cyclist expects it and desires it: demanding and challenging, and, above all, almost traffic-free. A real gem. To go up while having fun, it is important to keep a regular cadence, without rushing. After the first few climbs, the forest thins out to make room for the rocks and overhangs of Monte Pegolara.
The advice, especially if you plan to tackle the climb for the first time, is not to worry too much about data provided by the bicycle computer. Forget about your stopwatch and pedal focusing on the landscape, enjoying a place that seems timeless. Silence reigns and the sounds of the forest are interrupted only by the sound of breathing and of the wheels slowly rolling on the asphalt.
About half-way up, you will be swallowed by two short tunnels, two holes dug with pickaxes by Alpine troops; then two hairpin bends again, more challenging than the previous ones. One of the last bends overlooks a panoramic area from which to enjoy the view down the valley, giving you the impression that you can dive directly into the lake.
Finally, in the last stretch, the road widens, the slope becomes less steep and easier to complete on the saddle, and you can even enjoy some shade under the larches whose foliage lets only a few sunrays through: finally, you reach the top. Usually, the conquest of the Menadór has passing hikers as your only witnesses. Just a quick nod as a form of greeting among cyclists and hikers. Rather than applauses and the speaker on the finish line, at the end of your small enterprise, you can enjoy the sound of nature, which changes according to the seasons, from cowbells to starlings.
Climbing an uphill road is always a bit like climbing to the top of a mountain: there, at the top, before descending, there is that moment of happiness that comes from the little personal satisfaction of having made it. We reward ourselves with a sip of fresh water drunk from the bottle, or with a tasty snack. Happiness is simple and within reach.