We were going to spend 2 full days in Livigno and both would be more loosely arranged than usual. There was an official day ride today, but less than half of the people were going on it. Others were going to rent mountain bikes, go for other rides, or just go shopping and lounge around. We’d had a week straight of hard riding and the change of pace was welcome.
As for ourselves, since we had shortened our journey yesterday and missed the big Stelvio pass, we decided to do it today. A couple of others were game, but we ended up leaving earlier and never managed to meet them on the road. Unfortunately it turned out that our leaving time, 9:00 am, was the worst possible. It was just in time for the “rush hour” when cyclists, their support vehicles and spare bike transports, and car and bus tourists were all out in force to head up the mountain. Motorcyclists, probably coming out of accomodations in Livigno like ourselves, also threw themselves into the mix in healthy numbers. The overall result was that at basically all times on the road you were either trying to pass something, waiting to pass something, or being passed by others less patient than yourselves.
In addition, the hairpin curves on this route — of which there were many — were far narrower than they had been on other roads, particularly the Grossglockner. They were practically U-turns here, which made it very difficult to find the happy medium on right / inside turns between running smooth and swinging wide or feathering the clutch and turning the handlebars in an awkward close-quarters turn. The scenery was nice, but the riding just wasn’t fun. We ended up making it halfway up the pass and then having a coffee and turning around. Blissfully, the surge broke during our coffee break, so the way back down was smooth and more enjoyable sailing. If it had been that way on the way up, maybe we would have continued. As it was, we were left with an unsatisfied feeling and a nagging desire to come back.
Thankfully the day was somewhat redeemed later on when we went for a hike up the slopes just east of town. There was a ski lift there, which busily transported a never-ending supply of mountain bikers and their equipment to the top, where they could bombardier their way down to the bottom complete with crash helmets and knee pads just like in Steamboat Springs. There were also some trails set aside specifically for hikers so we wouldn’t have to dodge kamikazes while slogging our way slowly but healthily up the mountainside. The sky was practically cloudless and the air was cool and breezy. We made it to the top in about an hour after pausing partway up to enjoy a tart and some soda at a coffee shop. While we were doing so a cyclist came in for a similar refueling stop, and then a couple of motorcyclists as well. Everyone was out enjoying themselves on a beautiful July day in the Alps.
90 km ride + 5 km run + 7 km hike