With the road bike in Bormio: Finally to Stilfser Joch!

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From September 24th to 28th I made a short trip to Bormio and Stilfser Joch. I wanted to do the climbs from Bormio to Umbrail and Gavia. But above all, from Prad to Passo Stelvio.

Nice weather late in the year

In between the RiderMan in Bad Dürrheim and the season finale at Lake Constance I had five days to spend. I would not go all the way home, that was clear. The idea was to climb Passo Stelvio. If the weather would be nice. A year ago I had to cancel the climb because of wet and cold weather. But this time the forecast looked good. And on Sunday it was finally clear: The weather will be great! Sun! Tuesday up to 15 degrees and then every day at least 20 degrees! There was no room left in Prad. But Bormio is actually much better anyway. From Bormio I could also do the Gavia which was also had to be cancelled last year. To Bormio from Bad Dürrheim is almost a five hours drive. But fine for a trip of five days. So I went.

Trip to Bormio

Early in the morning I left Bad Dürrheim to Bormio. A stop at the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen. Then three passes, each well over 2,000 meters, which I took by car. Late Monday afternoon I arrived in Bormio.

The acclimation tour

Komoot recommended “get used to altitude” and “start slowly”. So I started Tuesday with a short roll-in to the Torri di Fraele. The track was just under 45 kilometers. But it was a dead end with almost no traffic and beautiful serpentines. A great tip from Komoot!

Tour to Umbrail and Passo Stelvio

Wednesday the long-awaited day was finally there. For three years, the photo of the legendary road before the pass hangs in my living room. And now the trip it really started. The “right” climb begins in Prad. I had to go there first. And how? Of course by climbing to Umbrail. The road to Umbrail was not busy. The climb was a bit cool despite the sunshine. But wonderful. Just short of the pass height the road separates and I could see the summit of the Stelvio Pass from the “back”. I would be there a little later. The pass height of the Umbrail was practically deserted. I guess hardly anyone cycles or drives to the Umbrail because of the proximity to the Passo Stelvio.

Downhill from Umbrail

Quickly the obligatory photo with the sign of the pass. Then jacket on and down. How cold was that! The uphill was mostly in the sun. But this site was therefore almost completely in the shade. How cold were my hands! Even at 20 degrees in the valley cycling downhill in the Alps is not always a pleasure. At some point I finally made the descent and even my hands got warm at some point. The way to Prad was almost completely downhill. That helped. Before I got it right Prad was behind me and the climb began.

Climg to Passo Stelvio

Gomagoi I reached already last year. The glacier shone in the distance in the sun. The street was essentially straight ahead. I was scared. A young woman overtook me in greeting. I had been dreaming. The legs felt good. I saw her cycling in front of me for a while. She was only a little faster. The first serpentine, number 48. I continued. A young man overtook me. The distance to both became bigger. Soon I couldn’t see them any more. The legs continued to feel good. Nevertheless, things got heavier and heavier.

I thought about a brake. Ten kilometers to go. The legs still felt good. Nevertheless, it got harder and harder. At Franzenshöhe, at the beginning of the last serpentines I wanted to make a stop. After all I cycled alone and no one rushed me. – “No, that’s out of the question, I cycle as long as I can.” – And I did it. I cycled on and on. Franzenshöhe. Turn 22. I looked up. That can not be six more kilometers! It looked so close.

I continued. Up in every turn and then back into the saddle. Then turn it down again and continue. Turn after turn. Another milestone was achieved: less than five kilometers remained. Actually I like cycling serpentines. It’s more pleasant than just cycling straight. The countryside is also more interesting. Four more kilometers to go. Then three were left. Still three! If I only were under two. Finally, the two kilometer mark was painted on the street.

It is practically done. The last kilometer! The last turn. I was really drained. I think it was also the height that bothered me. A bit more fighting. I’ll be up soon. – Done!

At Passo Stelvio

The summit program is routine: photo with sign of the pass, photo of the last serpentines, two summit Fantas and a coffee. And then, of course, buying souvenirs. And gloves. I don’t do another downhiull with short gloves. And I found gloves. I could even choose!

Die berühmten letzten Serpentinen vor dem Gipfel des Stilfser Joch

After a long stop at the pass with far too many photos, I enjoyed the descent back to Bormio. The Stelvio Pass was finally in my pass collection!


In my arrogance I wanted to do Thursday the south entrance to the Gavia. That meant “warming up” over the Mortirolo. The day before, when returning from the Stelvio Pass, I was skeptical whether I should really cycle such a long distance again with more than 100 kilometers. On awakening it was finally clear that it would only be the minimal version: Gavia and back.

I waited until 10:30. So it was a bit warmer. The cycling was difficult. I was still exhausted from Stelvio. Also the way to Gavia is very high. The altitude was noticeable again. It was almost only straight. A few hairpin turns to Santa Caterina and then again straight. I waited for two ramps with double-digit percentages of which I had read at “quäldich.de”. I thought I probably did not notice them. Suddenly they came. Maybe it were even more than two. I had to fight. They were steep ramps.

After the ramps, there were about four more flat kilometers to the summit. Then I reached the last peak on my trip to Bormio. – Photo with sign of the pass, summit-Fanta, coffee, again too many photos and souvenirs. The usual program before I rolled back to Bormio with my new gloves from Stelvio.

One of the most beautiful passes in the Alps

“In our opinion, the Gavia Pass is one of the most beautiful passes in the Alps.” can be read on the website of “quäldich.de”. But I saw only dried-up grass, boulders and rocks, a lunar landscape. Nice is definitely different. I guess I cycled the Gavia at a wrong time. With green landscape and snow remains everything certainly looks very different.

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