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July 14 2007 – Ride from Bormio


Ride Passo Stelvio


We have a really nice hotel here in San Carlo which is about 12K outside of  Bormio on the main road to Livigno. Interestingly, the hotel is named the Hotel San Carlo. The view from our room are unbelievable. This is even more incredible when you consider that we are getting dinner and breakfast for our rate. Below are a coupel pictures of the hotel and the neighborhood as well as the room view and teh view looking towards Livigno which is on the Swiss border.

Before we get to the riding, there was excitement on the ascent in the van. There are several tunnels on the Bormio side of the Stelvio. The Italians ride like raving lunatics on these roads and there was a head on collision in one of the smallest ones.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough on the camera to get a picture.

Today we rode the famous Passo Stelvio. Originally the plan was to ride from the base, across the Umbrial Pass into Switzerland and then back over the Stelvio into Bormio. Since we were pretty beatfrom the Dolomites, we decided to drive to the top and then ride down the famous side, turn around and then climb back to the van. Unfortunately, we had an emergency light on wonderful Italian-made Fiat van come on, so we decided to stop about 8.5K from the top on the Bormio side and ride from there.

The picnic area we stopped in was unbelievable from a scenery perspective. There are glaciers and spectacular mountains all around.  It also seemed to be a good spot to stop as many people also stopped to eat lunch in a small picnic area nearby.

There were a lot of riders heading up the steep slopes.

The view back down the valley towards Bormio was amazing. There were significant switchbacks on this side, just not as amazing as the other side which I'll cover in a little bit. If you look closely, you can see the three tunnels we had to drive through to get up here.

One interesting fact I learned is that similar to Alp D’Huez in France, each switchback is numbered on each side.

The climb to the top was not very difficult, however on our tired legs, it wasn’t trivial. Along the way, we passed the Umbrial Pass that we had intended to ride which is a major gateway into Switzerland.

Near the top, we passed through some interesting switchbacks. And soon we reached the top. Tom went on ahead chasing a couple of rogue Italians while Paul and I worked our way to upwards. As it turns out, Tom continued over the top and continued on to near the bottom of the climb to begin his ascent. Paul and I stopped on top to take some pictures.

Here's a link to webcams of Passo della Stelvo: Webcams, and here is a link showing a 360 degree Webcam

This climb was absolutely crazy, not from steepness like some of the others, but from the motorcycles, sports cars and other traffic that was literally racing up and down along with the bikers. The switch backs were awesome.

Paul and I continued over the top and rode down to a suitable spot to turn around. Along the way we needed to wrestle with busses, motorcycles and Porsche’s. Along the way we witnessed one bus trying to make it’s way down the hill. There were about 24 Porsche’s lined up behind it… along with us.  This picture was taken after all the Porsche’s passed the bus.

Tom clearly wins the mountains jersey from this trip.  He made it quite far over the famous side and took this picture looking back towards the top. Looks intimidating doesn’t it?

Paul and I made it back to the top before he did as we didn’t descend as far, so we spent a bit of time watching the commotion. The Stelvio is clearly a bikers heaven of all kinds as the motorcycles were more plentiful than the bicycles. Next trip for me might be with a motorcycle. (God knows these Italian climbs make me feel like I can’t ride a bicycle anymore!)

It was pretty busy up top so we decided to descend in case we missed Tom come back by.  Before we left, we captured a couple of final pictures form the summit. The circular building on the right was named Tibet … not entirely sure what that was all about.  Amazing to see the snow and glaciers when it was nearly 90 degrees up top.

We saw a castle on the hill above the pass.

We returned to the valley, retrieved our laundry and bought some water since everything in the#%!!$$  country will be closed on Sunday.

We also stopped and had pizza for lunch and bought some bottles of wine and came back to the hotel to drink them while watching the Tour de France on Italian TV … which is terrible.




Tom also captured a picture of me working on a webpage update that we didn’t publish until getting to France as the internet at the hotel was funky.
When Tom had reached the top, he also had his picture taken before riding over to the other side.