Passo dello Stelvio
Updated: Jul 2
Looking for switchback-heaven? The Stelvio Pass holds what you seek! To carry on the legacy from Tour de Danube, Blu Acciaio and Friends decided to cross the Alps, with the Stelvio Pass as the highlight. We started out from Kiel in Germany and reached the Alps at Schwangau in Germany, after some 1000 kilometers and 10 days of riding. Three days later we reached the Stelvio Pass, famous for its many switchbacks, 45 to be precise and they are all numbered.. After completing the climb, we enjoyed a few more down-paced stages along Lake Como, before pedaling on to Malpensa and our flight home to Norway. Our conclusion: The Stelvio Pass is a must-do for you touring bicyclists out there!
Below is our final route. It is exact and based on GPX-files we recorded along the way. Check out our GPX-files and photos below the map.
Below is the live log from our journey, with a bit more details about each stage. Don't forget to have a look at the picture gallery, all the way at the bottom.
01.07.2012 - Prologue: Sagene, Norway >>> Color Line Terminal, Norway (8 km): Spirits were high as Blu Acciaio and Friends assembled at the Color Line Terminal, ready for new adventures. The continent awaits..
02.07.2012 - Kiel, Germnay >>> Luneburg, Germany (176 km): We are on our way! The navigation skills we got during Tour de Danube seems to be a bit rusty as we missed todays destination with 30 km. Fortunately there are plenty of days left to improve.
03.07.2012 - Luneburg, Germany >>> Braunschweig, Germany (137 km): Note to self: cities are are larger than they appear at Google Maps. This stage ended with at bit of urban safari, as we made our way into Braunschweig.
04.07.2012 - Braunschweig, Germany >>> Magdeburg, Germany (98 km): The Harz Mountains are coming up in the south. But we are not yet ready to summon the strengt needed to climb mountains. Besides, word from medieval times has it that these mountains be some sort of stronghold for witches. On that note, we decided to head directly east, in an effort to bypass both the climb and the witches. We shall save both our courage and strength for the Stelvio Pass.
05.07.2012 - Magdeburg, Germany >>> Lutherstadt, Germany (80 km): Again today, we had more than 40 degree Celsius out on the road. Thats too hot, but for now, two accurately measured gin tonics a night keep the fever away. The landscape is starting to roll a bit more and even though we are packing light compared to Tour de Danube, 20 kgs on the luggage rack still take its toll when climbing.
06.07.2012 - Lutherstadt, Germany >>> Erfurt, Germany (105 km): More rolling hills today, but the temperature is down to a comfortable 30 degree Celsius. We are exceedingly anxious to reach the Alps. Most likely our entry will be somewhere just south of Schongau.
07.07.2012 - Erfurt, Germany >>> Coburg, Germany (115 km): About 50 kilometres into todays stage, it is safe to say we encountered our first climb worth mentioning. A welcome change, after almost 600 kilometres on flat grounds. Our navigator man didn't see any s-bends on the map in advance, so we were a bit surprised when we were suddenly faced with a 12 % climb in the Thuringian Forest. The climb finally led to a little mountain village called Masserberg at about 800 metres above sea level. It was good with a dry run of a proper climb, considering what is coming.. We went on to Coburg, where we be spending the night.
08.07.2012 - Coburg, Germany >>> Fuhrt, Germany (109 km): There has been a sense of urgency among the riders to reach the Alps as soon as possible. We had a short sitdown this morning, reminding ourselves that while Passo dello Stelvio certainly is what we are heading for, the journey is in itself a goal. On that note, we raised ourselves in the saddle, took it down a few gears and spent the day reconnecting with the spirit of bicycle touring.
09.07.2012 - Fuhrt, Germany >>> Weissburg, Germany (71 km): We are overdue with a resting day, so we opted for a shorter stage today.
10.07.2012 - Weissburg, Germany >>> Augsburg, Germany (108 km): Another fine day in the German countryside lies behind us. We are really starting to get into the rhytm of bicycle touring by now. Even though we spend about six hours at the road each day, it feels more like two hours.
11.07.2012 - Augsburg, Germany >>> Schwangau, Germany (108 km): And so it happened, just as we exited the woods north of Schwabsoien, the Alps appeared as mighty shadows at the horizon. It is with great joy we think about how we the next few days will be working our way up the switchbacks to Passo dello Stelvio!
12.07.2012 - Schwangau, Germany >>> Lermoos, Austria (41 km): This be our only day of proper rest, so we kept the distance short. The Alps tower all around us now. The feeling of bicycling through this terrain is quite extraordinary. As we now leave Germany, we should also mention how well facilitated Germany is for bicycling. Bikepaths are properly marked and mostly of good quality.
13.07.2012 - Lermoos, Austria >>> Nauders, Austria (113 km): We are now in pole position for the main event of this tour, the crossing of Passo dello Stelvio. Needlees to say, we are quite psyched about tomorrows undertaking. Thinking back to previous climbs this years, e.g. Turtagrø Classic, confidence is high. We have unpacked fresh pair of bib's and jersey's, as we shall most certainly arrive Passo dello Stelvio in our finest.
14.07.2012 - Nauders, Asutria >>> Bormio, Italy (93 km): We started the day by crossing the Passio di Resia. It is unfortunately not as impressive as it sounds, as we started at 1000 meters above sea level and the pass is already at 1400 meters. After descending from Passio di Resia to Spondigna, the moment we were all waiting for had finally arrived - the ascent to Passo dello Stelvio. The first stretch certainly goes upward, but without switchbacks. It is only after Trafoi that the ascent really begins. It just keeps on and doesn't end until you have passed a whooping 45 switchbacks. The switchbacks are all numbered and counts down towards the top. Not exactly a confidence builder as we struggled our way through no. 45, 44, 43, 42, 41 and so on.. But we reached the top eventually! Describing it will simply not merit the awesomeness we felt at that moment. We leave it by saying it was absolutely breathtaking, in every sense of the word... On the other side of the pass, a thrilling downhill ride of about 20 kilometres took us to Bormio.
15.07.2012 - Bormio, Italy >>> Varenna, Italy (129 km): It turned out that the downhill ride from yesterday wasn't quite over yet.. The descent continued for another 30 km. When the terrain finally levelled out, we got on the SS38. SS is short for Strade Statale. These types of roads usually have speed limits between 70 and 110 km/t. They are narrow, often heavily trafficked and seldom have proper lanes for cyclists. This was the first time on our tour we felt a bit unsafe, as the big rigs swooshed by too close for comfort.. Things got better once we reached the north side of Lake Como and the heavy traffic diverted to an nearby autostrada. After some very enjoyable kilometres along this beautiful lake, we pulled over and stopped for the night.
16.07.2012 - Varenna, Italy >>> Gallarate, Italy (77 km): From the map it seemed like a long tunnel was luring at the east side of Lake Como, just south of the city of Lecco. Unsure whether we would be able to get safely past it, we opted for a short ferry ride to Bellagio. This allowed us to get to Como by following the road on the west side of the lake. Once in Como, we urban safaried our way to Gallarate. By chance we stumbled over a local restaurant this evening and enjoyed our best meal so far. If you get the chance, go to La Goletta when in Gallarate. The restaurant is located at Via Tiro a Segno, 24.
17.07.2012 - Epilogue: Gallarate, Italy >>> Malpensa, Italy (13 km): This was definitely one of our shorter epilogues. It was however one with a very particular purpose, as we scavenged the city of Gallarate for bubble wrap to ready our bikes for air freight. After some babylonian confusion we finally had our way and continued to Hotel Malpensa INN, with our bubble wrap. That concluded this adventure. Now, back to the stronghold to plan the next one.
Details about tracks and lodging
01.07.2015 - Prologue: Sagene, Norway >>> Color Line Terminal, Norway (8 km) https://www.strava.com/activities/336764471