Friday, August 9, 2013

Europe 2012 Part 5

Day 14 On The Road

Bormio to Prad

Well, lets see. I decided to spend another day in town after a great nights sleep. Thought I would ride up the mountain on Sunday with the rest of the 10,000 people heading that way.
When I went down for breakfast, I stopped at the front dest to confirm staying for another night.
Guess what, my room had already been sold. I went to breakfast a little annoyed with myself for not having booked for two nights.
Three years before, I had ridden the Stelvio from the Prad side with the Mountain shut down to all motorized vehicles. It was incredible, every type of bicycle you could imagine was heading up the hill and I thought it would be fun to repeat from the Bormio side.
Without a bed for the night and all of the Inns being full, I decided to head on up.
The weather forecast was not super brilliant. Rain and possible snow was predicted and when you are climbing up to 2760 meters, rain generally mean snow when temps are heading towards 0 celsius on top.
I departed around 10 am after the owner of the hotel had washed and dried my cycling kits. Picked up some munchies for the big climb which I guessed was going to take me 4-5 hours. 
 Heading for the first of 44 switchbacks I new this was going to be a tough day after having climbed some pretty good size hills over the previous few days.

And away we go. No messing around with this climb, once you start you gain elevation at a pretty steady rate.

You get to ride through a few snow sheds on the first third of the climb. Quite narrow, usually with a blind curve thrown in and plenty of  water pouring off the ceiling.

Couple of hours into the climb with the weather starting to take a very sideways turn. Lurking up ahead more amazing switchbacks and some major elevation gain in a very short distance.
As I started up towards that face, wind and rain started to intensify.

Half way through these switchbacks there is a cafe tucked into a corner. I pulled in for a latte' to escape the driving wind and sleet. Unfortunately didn't take a photo as the weather was so intense at the time I just wanted to get under cover.

Pretty cool seeing all of the Pro riders names on the road and walls from the previous Giro.

After climbing the steep wall I rode into this beautiful high alpine valley which took another 45 mins or so to ride through before I hit the last set of switchbacks that took me to the top of the pass.

Looking up and down the valley, pretty amazing place. The wind was fair ripping through blowing long fingers of fog along with it.

I was so focused on getting to the top at this stage that I didn't get any shots of the final half dozen switch backs.

Without a doubt one of the most intense climbs I have ever done. It is one thing to rip up a climb on a light road bike or a tricked out MTB but when you haul all of your belongings along with a tent, sleeping bag, cooker, fuel etc on your steel framed bike, all up weighing close to 70lbs through 44 switchbacks to an elevation of 2758 meters (9050 feet) with grades upwards of 14% grade. Well, I have to say I was pretty darn proud of myself to accomplish that ride.

Once I reached the top, I headed into one of the restaurants, ordered soup, a sandwich, coffee, drank four large cokes, changed my under shirts to warm up. Bought a Stelvio Cycling Jersey to show that I had conquered the Pass, actually the second time I have ridden it.
Too cheap to buy one the first time.The previous time from the side that I was about to decend with 48 switchbacks.
Starting to leave the summit I stopped at an outside vendor cart and bought a Bratwurst on a bun with onions and sauerkraut and yet another coke to get the energy up.

The views down this side are incredible. Amazing Glaciers hanging form the mountain peaks. Truly an honor to cycle through these mountains.

Engineering of roads through the European mountains are beyond words. You just have to experience it to believe that it is possible.

Bus versus car, bus always wins.

I stopped so many times to take photos. Last time I rode here, I got caught up in the decent and missed the view. This time I took full advantage of my camera.

Once I arrived in Prad, set up my tent and went to find dinner. The village square on Saturdays has a band playing along with food and beer to be had. So, I had!
then off to bed for a well earned sleep.

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