Karl, Alison, Ian and I flew out to northern Italy on Saturday. The flight out was fairly uneventful, Ian was actually ready to go Saturday morning when I came to pick him up. We flew to Bergamo airport, arriving to a hot and sweaty Italy with 4 bike bags and luggage. We eventually got hire cars sorted, shuttle bus to car hire place and bikes stashed by 7 o’clock local time and were ready for the three hour plus drive north to the Alps. Karl had a sat nav, so we planned to follow him. Unfortunately it was playing up and we had a few interesting moments through the Bergamo suburbs in rush hour before getting on to the right road for Bormio. It was a beautiful road in places, but soon got dark and we couldn’t really see Lake Como or the Alps as we approached. Eventually we got to Bormio at about half ten and met up with Graham, Jemima and Chris. The Hotel Genzianella is an Italy Bike Hotel, catering very well for cyclists of all types and is thoroughly recommended.
Bormio is at the foot of the Stelvio and close to any number of the great Giro climbs. The plan was to build up over the week to the Stelvio, hopefully from the northern 49 hairpin side. The weather forecast for the week is not good, rain, heavy showers, thunder storms. Temps are near those at home – 12 – 18 degrees. We’ll see where we get to.
Day one was planned as an easy break in day. It was tipping it down when we got up, so we had a leisurely breakfast and set about un-bagging and preparing the bikes. It was still tipping down when we’d finished and we decided to take an hour’s rain check. By half ten, it had eased a bit and we set out in light drizzle to do the Torre di Fraele. This is a 22 mile loop up to a ruined fort at which point the road turns to gravel. There are 18 hairpins on the climb which takes you from 1215m at Bormio up to 1885m at the castle. Beyond there, the dirt road rises up further to Lago di Cancano and Lago di San Giacomo. The rain eased as we started climbing. I’d plotted a route for Karl’s GPS using bikehike but the Google maps weren’t as accurate as they could be and we took a few wrong turns. Eventually we started climbing. Graham asked if this was the start of the hairpins. I pointed ahead and said no!
The climb was ok, the hairpins were about 500m apart and the slopes not too bad. It was bitter at the top and combined with the soaking from earlier, we all got quite cold. There was a sign on the dirt road saying there were several cafes further up so we headed on. The first was closed, as was the second. Karl headed up to a third, which was open. We had a traditional pasta, potato and cabbage concoction with cheese sauce. It was delicious and just what we needed, together with the thickest, chocolatiest hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Too soon we back out into the now watery sunshine. The views of the surrounding peaks were spectacular.
We were soon down into the valley and the relative warmth.
Not a long day, 22 1/2 miles, but rewarding considering the weather.
Tuna & bean salad
Green and white tagliatelli and duck sauce