Day 3 – Stelvio pass

Map3Breakfast was at 8:00 and it was bucketing down so we did not get away from the Hotel till 10:30. Riding in the rain was not fun and we had to queue up to get petrol for about 20 minutes but after about 30 minutes the rain stopped and the cloud started lifting. Each country in Europe has different petrol tax so the price from country to country varies significant. If you want to save some money, plan your purchase of fuel to ensure you buy in countries with the lowest price for fuel.

The road through the Fern pass was quite spectacular with an great views or the rugged valleys and the Highline179 suspension bridge. Given more time we would have loved to try this bridge which looked spectacular. The Fern pass is a very busy road so was slow progress with less than 40km covered in the first hours riding.

We stopped for coffee at Fernsteinsee and realised we had crossed our first border and were now in Austria. Crossing borders in Schengen contries means there are no passport or border controls to move between countries once you are in the your first Schengen contry. It make it very easy to get around Europe but also makes it difficult to know what country you are currently in.

Later that day we crossed into Italy and stopped for lunch in Curon Venosta Graun im Vinschgau. Here we found out that many shops and businesses close down after lunch for an hour or so for a siesta.  We got to pizza and pushed on for Stelvio pass. After having to find our way around some road works that closed the road with no detour instructions, we finally arrive at the start of the Stelvio pass in the late afternoon.

The Stelvio Pass is a mountain pass in northern Italy, at an elevation of 2,757 m above sea level. It is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps, just 45 m below France’s Col de la Bonette

We wasted no time riding up the east side of the pass. Albert lead, with Hector and I struggling to keep up. It was a magnificent road with continuous line of switch backs climbing up a stunning mountain pass. The corners are so tight, you have to look over your shoulder behind yourself to see the exit to the corner. The air gets colder as you approach the glaciers and climb above the tree line.

At the top in the pass there is a number of shops and souvenir shops. We continued down the west side of the pass to Bormio. It started to drizzle on the way down but the road continued to offer magnificent vistas with narrow tunnels and bridges cut directly into the side of the mountain with sheer drops to keep things interesting.

We hobbled into Bormio with very little fuel left and got two rooms in the Hotel Cervo for €150 including breakfast.

Note: If you intend to leave this hotel before 7am (or there is a fire) think again. All guests are locked in for the night and there is no night manager or number to ring to get out.