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Alps Ride - Swiss Cheese

Day ride out from Trento, up and over Monte Bondone, and after achieving my yahoo quota on the twisty's, putted through gravity-defying hillside villages, valley vineyards.  No traffic, no crazy riders, just an occasional cow (and a lot of what they leave behind) on the road.  

Back to Trento to walk the Piazza del Duomo in daylight, lazy Sunday afternoon.   The 12th-century Romanic-Gothic Duomo Di San Viglio cathedral, dedicated to Saint V,  is enormous, has one of those four-poster things inside, similar to St. Peters at the Vatican, and at about the same size.  I appreciate the aesthetics - design, construction, the patina of aging - but also think about the people conscripted (forced labor) to design and build the thing, and the legacy of and continuation of much of organized religion's unpleasantness towards people with different ideas. 

All-day ride to St. Moritz, lots of passes and passing. Through Italian vineyards, then over Passo Di Gavio, including several kilometers of one-lane pavement for two-directions of travel, narrowly terraced into a very big hill. Also, an unlit tunnel, a bit disorientating after blasting along in alpine sunlight; hope I didn't ride over any bicyclists. Followed by Passo Di Stelvio, awesome, with 48 consecutive hairpins curves down the other side. Brief visit to the village of Glurns, circa Middle Ages, surrounded by walls with parapets and tiny windows that they can shoot arrows out of if they still want to.

Over the Swiss border and Passo Di Fuorn, and the back way into St. Moritz; the front way was torn up for remodeling. Arrived after the stores closed, which was ok, I'm not shopping for Prada, Bally or Rolex.  Swimming pool at the hotel - hey, this is St. M - was perfect after the long ride. 

St. Moritz to Andematt, sunny all day, varied from 14 - 31 degrees C.  Julier Pass, Passo Di Spluga, a nice ride.   Lots of valleys, then over St. Gotthard Pass, into Andematt. It's early afternoon, head down Old St. Gotthard road, all cobblestones, hard to imagine someone could build kilometers of (steep) road stone by stone.  Over Passo Della Novena...followed an Audi S4 that screamed down the back side, locked on to his bumper, made great time, as he knew the road well.  Gingerly rode past an awful motorcycle / auto collision, emergency crew on-site, near Gletsch, then up Furga Pass, stopped to check out Rhone Glacier, including a chain-sawed ice cave walk-in.  Back to Andematt, celebrate a birthday in the group.  Tonight, as last night, turn in exhausted, this mountain-riding stuff seems to be catching up with me.  No wi-fi (access has been sporadic) so no Internet fix today, but the riding is great!

Tunnels. They build a lot of them, sometimes under a flat meadow, where a surface road would suffice. Some are spacious and well-lit, some are like riding into the black maw of the underworld; unlit, narrow, curved and slippery, with an occasional sharp turn right when you exit, blinking, newly blinded by alpine sunshine.   

Since Andematt to Beatenburg's not far, there's time to further explore the surrounding mountains.  Ride down the north side to try out a grand-daddy of tunnels - St. Gotthard Tunnel - that runs underneath Andematt.  If 17 km seems like a long distance and time to be in a tunnel...it is. None of the psychological mojo I'd heard about, just a dull ride staring at the ass-end of a slow-moving tractor-trailer, and pretty warm at 37 degrees C at mid-tunnel.  The tunnel's infamous for a dramatic incident of several years ago. 

Over Passo Della Novena - I'm repeating myself - then up Grimsel Pass. Hot chocolate at the summit, look at a couple of cages of owls, some Snow Owls, and two buzzard-sized owls with Gandalf eyebrows, looking very much the predators.  Sad to see them caged, though I wouldn't want to be the first human they see once let loose; they look pissed. 

A cloud settled down at the summit as I saddled up for the ride down the back side. Visibility about two bike lengths, light rain. Try another, Sustern Pass, beautiful, but the rain intensifies, head back down after reaching the summit. Once in the valley, thunder, lighting, heavy winds and buckets of water splash down, making for focused riding as I limp through lakeside villages towards the hotel.  Beatenburg is up, currently in the clouds, though I'm told the view from here is fantastic.  After several days of sunshine, I don't mind being in the weather for a day. Tomorrow will be great. 

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Reader Comments (1)

Brotha Marx, sounds like your having a blast over there, which I could be riding with you. Sounds like the food is great, the view out of this world and I suspect the ladies, not bad. I find it hard to believe you are a totally coverted Harley guy, but it does sound like the BMW has some merits. I would be totally freaked out on the roads you are riding, but on the other hand, I've only ridden Harley's and I can't imagine riding one on those roads. Love reading about your adventures, but it makes me want to hit the road again for those long rides. Be safe and come back in one peice with no broken bones.

Dan in Georgia

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan Brown

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