There are many famous and beloved spots in the world, but there is only one queen. Regardless of whether we ask a Japanese or an American, the list of must-see places for each of them will certainly include the Alps ... or one specific place to be exact. We happen to be relatively close to it, so going there every year seems like quite a pleasant chore.

Where to go?

The choice is simple - Bormio and around. Why? Let's look at the map below. I have marked on it the most important passes, which in my opinion must be visited in our cycling life. I recommend joining them with a line going along the main roads and plan your stay to include all of them ... preferably from every possible side.

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How to go?

You can get to Bormio in two ways. By car (via Germany or the Czech Republic - similar time) or by plane. In the first option, we are sentenced to about 15 hours in the car (plus potential traffic jams on the highways if we hit just for a long weekend). I'm not sure how it happens, but despite several trips, every time I get there from another side. I traveled from Switzerland from the west, from the north through Umbrail, from the east through Stelvio and south through Mortirolo. One thing is certain: the driver must have a steady hand to experience these turns, and there must be some power in the car. The plane is more convenient. Both from Modlin and Okęcie, we will reach Milan (less than 2 hours) in Milan. With luck, a one-way ticket should not cost more than PLN 80, but the standard price is around PLN 140. For this definitely higher cost for a bike ticket. We miss it by sending them on the bus, but probably not everybody will find a dozen or so crew for renting a vehicle together. As an alternative, I recommend a courier to the place where we plan to stay overnight. It should not be a problem to get along with the hosts to collect them before our arrival. When it comes to renting locally, apart from the period of local races, it should not be a problem, but I recommend an earlier reservation - prices usually about 30 euros per day (I recommend it in the full insurance version). From Bergamo we rent a car (we need to book it online, it definitely reduces the price - the cheapest is about 20 euros per night) and 3 hours later we should be on site. The alternative is a train / bus to Tireno and then searching for another bus, which will take you missing 50km.

IMPORTANT: before leaving, it is worth making sure that the passes that we want to visit are already open. Due to the high probability of multi-meter drifts, the dates are rather small. It is necessary to aim somewhere between June and September.

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Prices and places

The cheapest accommodation found on booking.com is around PLN 100-150 per night per person for decent, multi-person apartments with kitchen. The optimal number of people is 4-6 per aparament. I would like to remind you that we have an internet connection, a place to make dinner and at least one bathroom for 4-5 people (this way we avoid the morning game of the throne, which usually ends as well as in the series).

Milan and the surrounding area are expensive. Bormio spermatozoa are expensive. Lidl is not there, so make a great shopping along the way. It is worth taking into account, however, that the local products are great (hams, cheese, pastas) and maybe it is worth adding a bit. Pizza is around 6-9 euros. We eat herebut most of the places in the area are good to say the least, and coffee from the cafe is on every corner.

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When it comes to bicycle services, we have a large Trek store in Bormio, ski rentals are scattered here and there in the summer, which change the range for cycling, and for my part I recommend: Mapo Bikewhich, 2 years ago, emergency saved me and my leaky tuber. In addition, in the center of the city you will find a small container, to which we can put a jadypiony bike and for the price of a few euros will be automatically polished.

We make purchases of equipment / gift / alcohol in Livigno, only and exclusively, but at a different point.

Granfondo Stelvio Santini and other events

In order to have an excuse to go, we try to find a nice party. The second year in a row falls on Granfondo Stelvio Santini, but in these areas, as in the rest of Italy, the choice is considerable. The full list: from short time trials to 400 km mountain ultramarathons can always be found here: http://www.usbormiese.com/events/

Italian granfondo is a party that must be experienced. I can't imagine a better organization, route, security or buffets. I wrote about Santini in April issue SZOSA magazine, so I do not want to duplicate the text. Compared to last year, nothing (except weather) has changed. So in a nutshell:

  1. You can choose from 3 distances: from 60km / 1950m to 151km / 4058m. I do not think I need to point out that I recommend, of course, the longest one. On the way we will include Teglio, Mortirolo and Stelvio.
  2. Buffets are so great that you can not race. Sandwiches, pastries, fruit, pizza, freshly cut ham, various drinks - to choose from. To be eaten on site or packed straight into the pocket. The quality can be confirmed by colleagues Maciek and Szymon, who have been stuck for 40 minutes on the penultimate buffet in Bormio.
  3. The start is early in the morning, but in this area the rule prevails: the earlier the hour, the better the weather.
  4. The route is perfectly secured. No surprises, all the narrower roads close the day before.
  5. In the morning, you can throw a bag of clothing on a load and pick it up at the top of Stelvio. The temperature difference makes it often "short" and the winter autumn / jacket is useful at the exit.
  6. There are several service points along the route, in which the mechanics work as during a pit stop in F1. I found out about it this year, when during the first exit I noticed that my brake block is mounted upside down and is slowly going out during braking.
  7. The whole race is stress-free from the participant's point of view. There are no large queues, stress, formalities, etc. One of our colleagues forgot to pay for the start, which he found out when collecting the starter package. Although all the issues were officially sold out, the organizers saw no problem with the release of a new one.
  8. There are very few cuts, the company goes safely. The most common tipper is a fall on the hip while climbing Mortirolo, when the speed drops below 5 km / h.
  9. Regardless of whether you are going to race or do cyclotourism, this event is for you.
  10.  For 50 euros you get a great route with security, care while driving (service + food + garbage if you give up), cycling shirt, cap, buff, a repack and a very solid pasta party at the end

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What to ride?

Riding on the spot is quite simple, because there are few roads. Either we are tough and we build ourselves a demanding loops, or we can approach the topic more visually: drive up everything on one side and turn back, at the same time risking that after returning home there will be such a dialogue:
-hey drove Stelvio!
- and from which side, because I heard that the one from Prato was more interesting
- (...) shit

proposed loops:

  1. Bormio - Prato allo Stelvio - Santa Maria al Mustair - Bormio. We include the Stelvio on both sides + Umbrail
  2. Bormio - Ponte di Legno - Grosio - Bormio. We count Gavia from two sides + Mortirolo from two
  3. Bormio - Livigno - Bormio + Laghi di Cancano along the way. We include Passo Foscagno, shopping in Livigno and Laghi di Cancano.

Roads:

Stelvio

Bormio - Passo Stelvio: 19.8 km / 1462m
Prato allo Stelvio - Passo Stelvio: 23.9km / 1828m

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Stelvio is a classic - probably one of the most known driveways in the world. The road on each rider's bucket list. Is it right? Yes and no. The hopes and huge expectations built up by hundreds of photos and reports from this place, which we probably saw before appearing on it, can easily be exaggerated.

From the Prato side, the road can be divided into two parts. The beginning is a classic alpine road that begins in a small town, stretching through meadows surrounded by massive mountains. With each kilometer, the massif slowly approaches us, and the open spaces are replaced by forest. Between the trees, the driveway looks like any other - but its length is evidenced by the numbered turns. The numbers are falling slowly and the countdown starts at 48. Only the ending is what we came here for. At some point, a wall of serpentine becomes visible in front of us. I like riding it much more than going downhill. For a person with limited technical skills, such a number of turns is hard - the brakes are a bone. Unfortunately, it should be noted here that the road to Stelvio is a normal street, where we will meet not only a large number of motorcyclists, campers and tourists, but also cars that simply pass that way. The traffic is not big, but it is enough for the moment of staring at the bow to end badly.

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From Bormio, the driveway is more interesting to me. Less serpentine is compensated by more interesting views, tunnels and a few kilometers of driving along snowdrifts (depending of course on the season). The downhill is also much easier and faster. Asphalt is the most satisfactory on the whole route, with some exceptions in the tunnels.

It should be noted here that the legendary Stelvio is not a difficult climb. Yes, there is a long, but stable slope, short flattening and the lack of walls means that if we do not plan to break the time record, then, just like any medium-smart cyclist, we can handle him. Apart from the short segment to 14% and the last 3 kilometers, where general fatigue is mixed with the limited amount of oxygen due to altitude, it's cool.

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The main problem, like in most high mountains, is the weather. It is not even about the possibility of a rapid change and the arrival of a downpour or a snowstorm, and the temperature fluctuations. There were days when the driveway started with a "short" ride, and at the exit, long pants and a winter sweatshirt were not enough for me. It's warm up, cold down - this has to be reconciled. Compulsory equipment is ALWAYS an emergency "ultralight" jacket in the pocket - waterproof and non-breathable.

The summit is a refuge for cyclists and motorcyclists. Several shops with plush marmots, several cafes, a large parking lot and a ski resort a little higher. Remember that at the top not only look at the corners on the other side of the mountain, which from this place look even better, but also turn to the side and bouncing to the left in front of the main parking lot to get to a small viewing platform - this way we will see the way in all its extent from a slightly different, better, perspective.

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Talking about whether the driveway at Stelvio meets expectations or not, does not make sense. You have to do it yourself, even if, like Panda, we find at its end that "The Tatras are prettier".

Umbrail

from Switzerland: 13km / 1102m

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Umbrail is a slightly less known driveway - if you want to draw a loop that includes both sides of Stelvio, we will have to cross it. According to our environmental intelligence, the most classic "Sunday round" is the start with Bormio, from which we set off towards the Stelvio summit and a few kilometers before the summit (some 250 meters vertically) we fly to Switzerland, just through Umbrail. Then a little easier way through beautiful, alpine villages straight from the Milka advertisement and we are in Prato, from which we can start attacking the height of 2757 meters again. It's good to get an ID card, because it may turn out that we're stuck on the other side of the border ;-) It is not known when the official language changes - just at some point, during a cake stop, a nice waitress offers us a wasser instead of aqua. It seems to me that even locals are often not sure in which country they live.

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Returning, however, to the road described here: it is boring - at least compared to all surrounding. Beginning as always through the forest, views covered, the tip a bit like a volcano. Sometimes a little steeper, especially at the beginning, but never enough, because I think about getting off the bike. Drop from exhaustion is more likely. The road seems to be definitely better for exits than the driveway, because

recently it has been completely asphalt. As the purpose of the trip - I do not recommend it, as its element - absolutely.

Gavia

Bormio - Gavia: 24.5km / 1404m
Ponte di Legno: 16km / 1300m

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Gavia is a giant, a slightly lower competitor of Stelvio. For me, however, there are two Gavie - this one is going from the north and the one from the south. Completely different, both visually and in cycles. Defeated from the north, from Bormio is a driveway like any other. A mighty beginning with a slight inclination, going into a road that goes through the forest, extends indefinitely, only to later turn into a harsh, mountainous landscape. Definitely less traffic, the surface spoiled with every kilometer that brings us closer to the top gives the impression that we have completely left the civilization and travel through the middle of Asia. Some more steep parts are tiring, but again not enough to think about going down (from the bicycle).

At the top, as befits a "slightly less popular sister Stelvio", you can drink coffee and eat something warm, but we only have one place to choose from. It is enough. It is a pity, however, that there is only one fireplace inside, which is usually crowded with cyclists drying their clothes. Spaghetti on site is around 10 euros - a lot, but you can think of it as a life-saving meal. There are no "Frogs" on the climbs. If we forget to take bars with us, we are doomed to die alone in a ditch. In addition to food, there is also a monument at the top, a sticker plate, a lake with crystal clear water and a hotel.

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The real Gavia - the ascent via the capital "P" (or exit via the capital "Z") is located on the other side, which we are informed about for good morning with a beautiful panorama of the mountains surrounding the lakes, along which winds a very holey, winding road. Leaky enough that your hands, frozen by their stay at the top, quickly warn you that if this is what it looks like for the next dozen or so kilometers, they will not go any further. However, the road changes quickly and quite drastically. After a few minutes you run into a tunnel in which you can see absolutely nothing. By "nothing" I mean exactly "nothing". If we do not take off the dark glasses, it is not known whether we are going or standing. However, it is worth breaking through, because the downhill Armageddon begins further. The descent is perfectly smooth, winding and fast as usual. It sounds great, although the road width is about one car and a half a cyclist. Although we can see it all the time in the distance, twisting and twisted, the closest arc is always "blind". There are also no barriers blocking our beautiful landscapes. All that's left is to focus on the asphalt, not the mountains, and pray that the car in front will be honking every few dozen meters. Race downhill must be suicide.

Mortirolo

from the south: 12.4 km / 968m 
from the west: 11.4 km / 1258m 
from the north: 13.6km / 1109km
 

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MORTIROLO TO SKU *** EL. I apologize for these words, but I have been dreaming to write for one and a half hours. MEAN, UGLY MOTHERF *** R as if it was a foreigner. It is neither nice nor cool nor anything. We go through the forest and nice views almost never appear. If the driveway from the south, while overcoming the Bormio-Gavia-Bormio loop is fairly ok ... and saying as far as ok I mean continuous wandering through a dense forest, only to end at the very end completely from the log glade 10 numbered serpentines which, although they do not look steep, are turbo difficult, riding it from the north is masochism. I will therefore refuse to further describe the southern part and go to meat.

I always get something that goes north. I also always lose a significant part of my brake pads because the descent is difficult. Not that it is dangerous, leaky or something - it is simply difficult. Sharp turns and a large incline make my fingers almost never let go. It was the first place in my life where I started thinking about such mundane things as overheating the brakes. Somewhere along the way, pass some nice panoramas of the valley in the second episodes, but usually I miss them, because I am unable to slow down in time.

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But let's focus on getting up. During granfondo I drive for the first time from the west. I have a gear ratio of 39 × 27 in my bike and I promised myself that I am going for the last time in my life. With an hour and a half of driving I have an average speed of around 9km / h, even though at the end there is even a moment of flatting out. It's a beautiful feeling when after 45 minutes of continuous uphill with the speeds at which Garmin grabs the autopause, you start to calculate and search for plates informing you how far. You stand in these pedals laboriously pushing and you count that, if you have 5 kilometers left, you will drive another 40 minutes. And you think .... after all, it's impossible, in 40 minutes you run normally 10km. Besides, how is it possible - after all normal people do not build such a long road that would be so steep. Mijania with other people resembles an A4 truck race. You drive 7.6km / h, he 6.8km / h - you're much better. You will be ahead of 7 minutes. This is a drama, and when you think that the end is over and the flat begins to come, the worst comes.

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Garmin never lies. If the driveway is to be 11.4 kilometers long and 1,258 meters vertically, that's what it will have. If you are missing a lot vertically, you are at the 10th kilometer and the road is going downhill, it is a sign that it will be bad… and it is. The asphalt turns to slabs and I get off the bike. For the first time since I went to the famous Gliczarów on my first road, not knowing yet what the cassette hill is. "Wall of Bukovina" - yes, this is a driveway famous for its difficulty, not some Mortirolo in the middle of the forest (irony).

Mortirolo is worth coming. I do not know why. You will come up with new ugly words, promise yourself that you will never come back again, cook your legs with the knowledge that you will have an awfully long and boring driveway to Bormio, then return there in a year or sooner. I do not recommend. I am already looking forward to 2017. I do not know what I am writing ...

Foscagno

from Livigno: 15km.1 / 944m

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Let's get to the best of cycling: views and shopping! The road from Bormio to Livigno does not begin somehow beautifully. It is perfectly even asphalt, constant slope, bottom view - such a standard. However, somewhere in the middle of the landscape changes. We drive the main road to the local conditions along the mountainside and tunnels, to something that resembles a border. What do customs officers and border do there? About it right away, because then we have a super fast downhill pass, a piece of driveway, a small town with huge cycling traditions (known for being quite high and making people preparing for takeoffs) and again a descent to Livigno along the slopes, which in the summer become a cult place for enduro riders (bike parks and things). On the route, there is a chance to meet the pros who are practicing the climbs, from the less known ones like the Rusvelo band, to Kwiatkowski or Sagan. The road is very nice, and if we have some time, we can try to bounce off to the side and narrow the narrow streets through small villages - sooner or later we will return to the main route anyway.

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We turn back in Livigno - the winter capital of Polish students. In Livigno it's great. It does not matter if we enter by bicycle or by car. The first thing that appears to our eyes are gas stations with a price per liter in cents, not in euro - a sign. In Livigno is a pedestrian street with shops, cafes and hotels. Such Sopot, only without the sea. There is also one (maybe more, but I always land in this one), a small bicycle shop for a year. If you want to buy Garmin, Sidi or Giro shoes, Sportfula clothes, or any other goodies, you've come to the right place. There is everything in every size and color, and most importantly - a minimum of 25% cheaper than with us. We have saved enough time to leave the store to be able to say that the trip has mostly paid for what we saved, buying things that we would have to buy anyway. Because if you can save a few stakes on one thing, it's worth it, even if you had to carry it back to Bormio on your back in a downpour. There are of course other stores, so if you want Oakley, camera or winter tires for the car, that's the moment. For me, the shop in Livigno is the best place in the world, and the road to it (which by the way is one of the most beautiful in the area, despite the traffic) is just a good addition.

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Laghi di Cancano

from Isolaccia: 8.8km / 559m

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Finally a gem. Little known, rarely shown in the pictures, and if it's without a signature. A short driveway that we can join to a trip to Livigno. We can start it in several ways - some a little steeper, others less but longer. However, once we get to the place where the right drive starts, we will not regret it for a moment. Equal asphalt, dozens of serpentine and practically zero traffic, because the road leads to nowhere. Unfortunately, we reach it to the tower from the "Lord of the Rings", where we can either end the trip, or spend a moment with decent gravel to get to the lake. This road is, however, worth the entry and exit as well as seeing it from above. In addition to serpents, we also have tunnels that seem to have been hollowed out by a man with a hoe. There is no need to use unnecessary letters. See photos.

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The photo album is available on Facebook

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