Cold & wet
After Strassbourg I went to the Schwarzwald in Germany. Initially the plan was to cycle through Munich and take it from there to Innsbruck. Well that was the plan, as far as I had one. But since it was cold and wet in Central Europe I decided pretty fast that I should go straight down to Italy to pick up some sun. And besides that, Italy. I mean, let’s face it easy choice right.
After a couple of firm cycling days (about 100 – 130 km a day) I passed by the German Bodensee (a huge lake), Austria into Switzerland. It was here where I took the Alps and the San Bernardino pass. Tough but beautiful! I took it coming from Thusis over the pass and continued cycling onto Bellinzona and the Lugano lake in Switzerland.
After cycling to Lugano and the Lugano lake I went to Lake Como in Italy. Random choice, but a good one. I found a perfect lake view spot and decided to rest for an extra day. It was also here where I had my first wine. It was hard to leave this little paradise but after my free day and lots of espresso’s I moved on.
Why did I want to arrive in Bormio coming from Como Lake? It was a 130 km ride with over 2500 meters of climbing. It was wet, dark and a serious tough ride. I still don’t know but It was a good choice..
As I was arriving in Bormio I felt sorry for myself (oh poor me) because I was tired, it was getting late, and it was cold and rainy. Did not want to camp in some crazy forest all wet ‘n cold. And as I was in the I’m fed up with it mode and stopped over to get some orientation of where I was, I met Tim. Tim was traveling with an American group of cyclists through Italy and he told me he knew the perfect place. A hotel especially for cyclists. The Genzianella hotel. He also told me how much it cost for a night so I had to tell him that this was not in my budget and that I was cycling for a social project in Rio de Janeiro. When Tim heard the story he invited me to stay in the hotel and he invited me to have diner with the American cyclist group.
I was flabbergasted! I could NOT decline this fantastic offer. Not only because I didn’t want to offend him but I was longing for a hot shower and some real food. As it turned out the hotel paid half of the price for one night and they washed my clothes that same evening. Also I had tremendous amounts of food. I ate like a bear.
It turned out to be a great night with great people. The hotel is absolutely brilliant with excellent and very personal service. Anmd it was here that I got acquainted with Stelvio for the first time. I had never heard of this mountain but after that night I knew this was a mountain pass that is the toughest in the Giro D’italia and one of the highest passes in Europe.
While I was absorbing all the information and realising that this hotel was packed with speed cycling bikers the adrenaline already started pumping. All the heroic stories of Stelvio gave me the energy that I needed (pie number 4 also helped) to get up there the next day. A great night with great people and something to look forward to.
07:30 wake up. Incredible breakfast and I felt hyper hyper. I AM energy. When the hotel offered to take my luggage / bags op the mountain I immediately decline. Nothing can stop me. Not even the unknown mountain of Stelvio. Bring it on! That’s how I felt. The pass runs over 2758 meter and the first 22 km that day will only go up. I got prepared and decided I would enjoy it no matter what. In short: it was amazing, and yes it hurted, but I cycled as smooth as a beam of sunshine.
Going down? Now that’s a different story. On this side of the mountain it was cold and it got wet. That means, especially with the motorbikes who think they are in a race, that there is constant danger. In the end I reach the valley (cold) and I decide to continue for another 50 km to Merano. The energy hadn’t stopped working and the road would be flat or going down smoothly.
That night, it was hard to fall asleep. I had been cycling like a mad man but all the images and adrenalines were still running through my body. Not even after taking a celebration beer (or 2). That night I already wake up at 04:30 to start my new day. Too many impressions, too much energy from that ride.
I’m in Bolzano. From now on it will be the Dolomites I think. Got a strong urge to go there. Haven’t got a clue what the route will be, I’ll decide as it comes. And I’m not worrying about the high mountains in the Dolomites since my legs feel like steel cables.
- Average day is 06:00 wake up, 22:00 to bed
- Many ants and snales that I avoid when cycling
- Big trucks doing 80 really sucks
- I eat lots of cheese, bread, tomato, lettuce and nectarines
- Lake Como was a couple of days ago but it seems as if it was 2 weeks
- People I meet
- Overwhelming nature
- The (good) feeling of pain
- Excitement and energy