Day 20. 101km. Bormio – Merano

Posted: October 2, 2014 in Cycling, Italy
Tags: , , ,

I woke to clear blue skies. The Passo dello Stelvio was calling me and Drahtesel. Forests. Rugged mountains. Hairpins galore. Bare grassy plains, bathed in sun. I stopped pedalling, and there was silence. Just a gentle whoosh of the mountain breeze. Just me, for this moment, in this amazing place.

When it’s nice weather, take advantage of it.. Strike while the iron is hot.
I guess it must also be old english – ‘strike’. Anyway, in Dutch, ‘strijken’ is to iron, which is good to do when the iron is hot. It wasn’t hot today, but it was sunny, and perfect for climbing the Passo dello Stelvio.

This pass has been on my agenda for ages. I got a tip to do this pass from one of the cycling forums I am writing to. It kind of felt everything has been leading up to this day. Stopping at the start of the pass, I was looking up into the mountains. Up and up and up.


I cycled up in the shade behind a ridge, first through forests, then through half tunnels, protecting the road from rock slides, then a set of hairpin bends to lift the road up onto a high grassy, lonely plain. On this lonely plain I saw a small ball waddling over the grass. I thought, it looks like an echidna. And then I saw his tail. A beaver! How sweet!







The road from Switzerland joins the road at the top of the Umbrail Pass. I visited Switzerland one last time before I head further south.


The top of the pass was busy. Hotdog stands, souvenir shops, and amazing amazing views.





The descent was FUN! In the sun, the view sweeping from one side to the other as I rounded the bends. Snowy peaks became visible. A big glacier. And it was all downhill.

At the bottom, I followed the Adige River through endless apple orchards.


Surprisingly, the descent continued. I had to pedal, but, I kept up a speed of 25-30 km/h without much effort. I am sleeping at the Merano camping ground. Again, with a nice sunset.


  1. valerievolk says:

    Amazing photos. Especially the first one. What a road!

    • Yes. It is an incredible road. A guy from the italian cycling forum has just convinced me to not follow the river to the coast but to scale another similar pass. I’ll do that tomorrow. It’s fun!

  2. JEAJ says:

    Wow. Wat een mooie uitzichten. Ik ben jaloers. Deze 101 km had ik graag met jou meegefietst. Veel plezier morgen op de volgende pass. Groeten, Ed

  3. Helen Schonenberg says:

    Wat een mooie dag voor deze mooie pas. Ga je nu door naar de Dolomieten?

  4. Alessandro says:

    excellent day for a climb to the Stelvio! Great reading Matthew.
    One small detail: the animal you saw was not a beaver, but a marmot! When they feel threaten, they emit a VERY loud high-pitched whistle.
    See you sometime today as you ride toward Trento.

  5. ton smeets says:

    Hi Matthew

    Prachtig, lekker ruig die Passo del Stilvio maar het wordt pas ECHT ruig als je de PAMIR gaat fietsen. Bekijk de foto’s van Bert maar eens om “kippenvel” van te krijgen. Dus je kunt je nu al gaan verheugen op een tour die alsmaar mooier en indrukwekkender wordt. Heel veel plezier en ik geniet met volle teugen van je berichten en vind het ook super dat je de moeite neemt om iedereen een reactie te geven. Vergeet het bericht over de donatie mogelijkheid niet te melden als het zover is.
    Hou vol en ik kijk weer uit naar je volgende bericht.
    gr Ton Smeets

  6. Anneke Liebe ( vrouw van Sybren waarmee je de fietsreparatiecursus hebt gevolgd) says:

    Wat een prachtige foto’s en mooie verhalen, ik herken het fruitstalletje op weg naar de camping in Merano. Veel plezier,

    • Hey.
      Dankjewel Anneke. Ja. De appels overal waren erg mooi. Ook leuk dat je gewoon appelsap en appels onderweg kunt kopen.. šŸ™‚ Een mooie stuk van de wereld.


  7. Guiles says:

    How did you train in the flat Holland to be fit for so many passes?

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