Day 7 (21/08/2014): Mezzana-Santa Maria [Graubünden] (111km/4,000m ascent/3+1 passes/drank 7.5 litres)

passes climbed:
Passo del Tonale (1,884m); Passo Gávia (2,621m); [planned extra pass not directly on route: Stelvio/Stilfser Joch (2,758m)]; Umbrailpass (2,505m)

towns passed:

I’ve passed border control – and am now in Switzerland!

And now that the seventh day on the bike is over I keep asking myself: can it get any better? I don’t think so. This day was just amazing! For the first time in my life I did 4,000m ascent in one day (my bike computer and my Garmin GPS slightly disagree on that, but I decided the verdict), the sun was shining, I was climbing 4 passes, out of which three are amongst the top 10 of the Alps regarding altitude: Umbrail (number 8 and highest pass road in Switzerland), Gavia (number 6, and simply stunningly beautiful plus perfect bends for a fun downhill ride – and quite a steep uphill before that), and Stelvio (number 3 – and second highest road I’ve ever been on by bike… by anything with wheels actually).

on top of Passo del Tonale

Of the fourth pass, Tonale – which was actually the first one I cycled up today – the main thing that got stuck in my head were yummy Sicilian specialities they sold on a market up there. And that it was a horribly built-up area – including apartment blocks! But I’m happy to repeat myself: the other three totally made up for that (although Stelvio isn’t nice either on top – but it has its impressive altitude to convince and spectacular views around).

my way up to Passo Gávia:


on top of Gávia including a treat for myself:




After 3 days in Italy (more will come), I now do understand the way Italians drive their cars on bendy pass roads: honk the horn before every turn, optionally flashing the lights too, particularly in tunnels, but never ever on your life reduce speed at all! There is actually a significant difference between Italian car drivers and basically all other nations. I’ve recognised this in Austria already too.
With motor-cyclists one can’t really generalise things that easily.

way down from Gávia towards Bórmio

What else is worth mentioning: after 7 days I can say that my bike – as it has done in the past already – is doing a great job. It’s shaken quite a lot on all these downhills, and me forcing it uphill all the time is probably not a lot better either. Only problem so far is a broken bottle holder. But duct tape is doing its job well. A nice surprise for both my bike and me was to see that the descent from Umbrail is basically fully paved now – other than indicated in the version of the ‘Geser’-book I’m using as a rough orientation (although I kind of expected that quite a few things would have changed during the past 10+ years since I own this book).

Same story as the days before: trying to find groceries in the Italian Bormio at 14:30… impossible. But for the moment I’m in Switzerland – will see how things develop here.

my way up from Bórmio towards Stelvio and Umbrail

on top of the third highest pass road in the Alps (and Europe), Stelvio/Stilfser Joch

Besides having been to Geneva for the car show and just across the border on a mountain hut, this is actually my first proper visit to proper Switzerland. I like the friendly people already – and the language is just so nice to listen to (even if I only understand half of it). And my bad preparation concerning the exchange rates led me to ending up in a really nice, but quite pricey accommodation. Or that’s just what I have to get used to while being in Switzerland.

my last pass of the day: Umbrail – being the border between Italy and Switzerland

Anyway, last story for today: guess what happened to me on the long downhill to Bormio? On the last, straight sections I just let my bike roll down with around 65kph – relaxing my muscles and giving my brakes a break by not using either of them. All of a sudden a mountain biker overtakes me! Just like that! Obviously he wasn’t leading a long time. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking now: “Men!!”)

1,115km/23,150m ascent/17 passes to go!

accurate route details (incl. GPS track):
Vienna-Nice Transalp – day 7 (Mezzana-Santa Maria)
Start date/time: Thu, 21 Aug 2014 8:51, distance (km): 110.71, elevation (ascent in m): 3,797

all photos of the day:

1 thought on “Day 7 (21/08/2014): Mezzana-Santa Maria [Graubünden] (111km/4,000m ascent/3+1 passes/drank 7.5 litres)

  1. Brian

    An amazing effort so far
    An amazing effort still required
    Largest achievement so far are the smiles for the camera!
    I hope you are still feeling good, with fight in your stomach, good will in your head, good speed in your legs
    There are a lot of us smiling with you as good as the spectacular terrain you pass
    Warmer climate awaits. Bon courage!



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