Day 9 (23/08/2014): La-Punt-Chamues-ch – Biasca (195km/1,800m ascent/2 passes/drank 7.0 litres)

passes climbed:
Malojapass (1,815m); Monte Céneri (554m)

towns passed:
St. Moritz; Chiavenna; Lugano; Bellinzona

Now this is what one probably calls a day to make some distance before the big names approach: almost 200km in a day brought me quite a bit further towards la Côte d’Azur/French Riviera.

The day started with chilly 10 degrees past famous St. Moritz, Silvaplana Lake and Silser Lake all the way to Majola pass – one of the easier passes as it was basically just along the river En more or less flat from where I started.

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on top of Malojapass – and the way down towards Chiavenna

The descent to Chiavenna then however changed everything: all of a sudden it was sunny and had 30 degrees. The country changed from Switzerland to Italy again. And the “contemplative” mountain spirit changed to a “Mediterranean” feeling. Lots of people, lots of cities and villages, in parts very bad roads (my poor bike – and taking pictures while cycling became quite a challenge), lots of tourists, lots of lake promenades, a very bustling atmosphere.

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Lago di Como from the west bank

And above all two great and famous lakes I cycled (actually “flew” with an average of 30kph) along: Lago di Como and Lago di Lugano (where the headwind and the hills slowed me down a bit).

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Lago di Luggano from the northeast bank

Back in Switzerland (now in the Italian-speaking Tessin), I came through two of the bigger cities on my trip: Lugano and UNESCO world heritage site Bellinzona. In between, more along the way, I passed Monte Céneri, the second high point of the day, after I got the squeaky chain of my bike lubricated again by a friendly bike shop man with whom I communicated via “Google Translate” on his computer.

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on Monte Céneri – for a change a picture with my bike only this time

And talking about the friendly Swiss already again, I want to add one more story: as every day I asked the host of the B&B where I stayed in La-Punt-Chamues-ch (actually, I can remember the name!!) whether it was ok to take some extra bread with me for the day (usually it is fine with them and makes it easier for me as I don’t have to start looking for a bakery or similar and stop in the morning already; then again one of the few times I wasn’t allowed to take any bread with me resulted in me getting the best poppy-seed pastry I’ve ever had in my entire life of a bakery in Zell am See). When I asked the lady this morning, not only did she allow me to take some bread with me, she even got me some foil to wrap it in!

I actually have to make one correction to what I wrote a few days ago: Bolzano was not the lowest point before Nice, it was actually quite a few places on this day: all the way along Lago di Como was lower (around 200m only), and Bellinzona is lower too. This has two consequences: for the very first time on this trip I was able to have dinner outside! On day 9! In August!

And the second consequence: I’ll have a very hard next day waiting for me: the way up to San Gottardo are basically 2,000m ascent in one go without any relaxing descents in between.

But now is not the time to turn back anymore: the remaining legs of the trip will, as I mentioned at the beginning, take me to all the big names now: San Gottardo, San Bernardino, Col de l’Iseran, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier, Col du Lautaret, Col d’Izoard, Col de Vars, and as the final highlight Col de Restefond and Col de la Bonette.

Wish me luck!

795km/17,000m ascent/12 passes to go!

accurate route details (incl. GPS track):
Vienna-Nice Transalp – day 9 (La-Punt-Chamues-ch – Biasca)
Start date/time: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 9:19, distance (km): 193.57, elevation (ascent in m): 1,015

all photos of the day:

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