Wednesday, September 21, 2016
The morning looked gorgeous, with fresh snow all around outside the hotel window. It was gorgeous and I had slept well. I was motivated to ride! Our first order of business was to lubricate the chains on our bikes, which had rusted overnight. I used up all my lube, and asked the hotel owner (a cyclist himself) if he had any to spare, he said, "No, but if you go down to the mechanic 3 houses down he'll help you." Sure enough, the car mechanic had a whole spray can of lubricant which he generously let us use, and I even sprayed some into my syringe of oil to recharge it.
Gavia has always been a gorgeous climb, but with fresh snow around us it was nothing short of spectacular. I made it up to Santa Catarina at speed, and had time to stop in a grocery store to buy chocolate and bananas, and ate some bananas before Arturo and Pengtoh showed up. I handed them chocolate and said I'd wait for them at the top.
They were both similarly motivated, however, and caught me as the climb came out of the treeline. This was all good, as the spectacular scenery around us gave us nothing but beautiful pictures. Most cyclists were based out of Bormio, since Bormio had multiple loops you could do in the area. Many would just do one climb a day. Despite that, they were all carrying backpacks approximately the size of our saddlebags! Granted, most of them looked like they were filled with lightweight down jackets rather than touring gear, but I can't imagine wanting to carry something on my back when I can have the bike carry it!
Surprisingly enough, the low clouds had lifted and the sun had come out by the time we reached the summit. I showed Pengtoh the poster of Jobst Brandt climbing the Gavia in the 1960s when it was an unpaved road at Rifugio Bonetta, and then we proceeded to descend.
This was my first time riding down the Gavia in excellent weather and dry roads, and I found myself stopping at various corners to capture action shots of my companions bombing down the pass. In many places the pass hits 16% grade making some of the experience more like sky-diving than like cycling. At the bottom, we ate at the same pizza stand that we ate in 2014, and then proceeded to bypass Ponte de Legno to climb Passo Tonale.