The last couple days of our Trans Alp journey were pretty cool, but also a heavy slog. We stayed overnight after the mechanical day in a place called Kortsch (near Schlanders). We had a pretty cool night of good food and lots of it to refuel for the last 2 day push to Lake Garda. That night we had to hand wash our clothes due to the mix-up we had with the hotel in Livignio and then ended up not washing our clothes. Thanks to Uli for taking on the task! Unfortunately the heat was pretty unbearable at this stage and it was the first time we slept lower than 1000m since starting the trip. To add to the heat our hotel was in the middle of a fruit orchard, so at 5am the sprinklers went off and stayed on until we left. Also, due to the placement of our bikes, they got a bit of a soaking too…
Because the day before’s plan to hit our highest altitude on the trip had to be cut short from all the mechanicals and slow moving day the day before, we were pretty motivated to tag on any further optional parts to do on the bike in order to make up for what we missed out on. The first pass of the day was pretty high considering we were starting from 700m and the pass was well over 2000m. We had the option of taking the chairlift half way, but we opted for the hard man approach.
This was when my Garmin showed me the steepest grade I’ve seen on it to date showing me 35%. It was a bit hard, and lots of out of the saddle climbing. The first half of the climb was so knarly (mostly gravel climb with some rough pavement or dry dirt) that we needed to stop at the top of the chairlift for lunch before continuing on. I had a pretty big schnitzel with some Spätzle, and it had a boat load of butter in it. Really not the best idea after finding out what was next to come. A whole lot of walking… I’ve coined the term, ScraMTBing. Essentially scrambling in your MTB shoes hauling your bike everywhere you go. And no, there is no limitation on how knarly the scrambling can be. I sure was pretty glad to get to the top though…
You’d think the downhills would be pretty fun, but at the very top of them we were literally only able to ride about 75% of it. At least it would allow us to move quite a bit faster. This day the tension was starting to build as we were really starting to get tired. I’m pretty happy to have done it with Uli though as we worked really well together and were able to push our limits a bit while still keeping things safe and within reason. We stopped for some food in the next valley to wait out a short storm and get a quick rest in before the final push to the next pass.
The next climb was pretty hard considering what we had already done that day. So steep and loose that the last couple Km’s were mostly walking. The hut was a very welcome relief.
The hut came complete with an Italian toilet (a hole in the ground with place for your feet) and a super cool puppy to lighten our spirits!
The last day was going to be a hard one, we knew it. The trip that we planned, was normally supposed to be done in 7 days, but we figured the last day we’d just spend the majority of the time on the road and head it straight into Riva del Garda, just over 100 km’s away. At least it was supposed to be 100km’s. The last day was the day we had the biggest breakdown in communication of the whole trip. Which is understandable given how tired we were, but not a good thing. The first downhill was pretty cool, but it just wouldn’t stop coming. We started at about 2200m and I knew by the end of the day we’d be around 100, so we expected fully that it would be a lot of downhill riding, little did I realize we’d also be doing a LOT of unhill as well. First off we went too far down a valley taking us in the wrong direction when I was adamant that it was the right way, then when we headed back I was sure that riding not on the road was the better option, only to realize it would end up being the worst riding of the trip on top of construction, on top of Uli being a bit mad at me, made for a bit of a rough start to the day. Once we finally got back on the road it was all good, and after a short stop for lunch in Madonna di Campiglio, we made the final push towards our finish line. You know you’re in Italy when this is the main road on the map that you need to take to get to your destination. More like a Canadian back alley!
Although the climbing was not over yet. We had to go over one more 1000m ish climb before a downhill and then the final climb up and over into Riva del Garda. It was a bit rough, but at least we could ride on smooth roads the whole way in… The views sure were absolutely stunning though!
We decided to do some touristy things that night and have a few adult beverages, along with some ice cream, but the most important goal of the night which took us to the next town over was our desperate need to do laundry. By this time we smelt pretty bad.
The next morning with a short climb over the hill to Rovereto where we were to catch the train, our trip was officially over.
6 Days, 32 hrs moving time, 475km’s, 14000 m elevation gain, 2 fully functional bikes and a couple of tired dudes. All in all, a pretty cool trip.
*Values listed above are only estimates and actual values are higher given that the Garmin’s were on auto-pause, so when we rode or walked too slow for the Garmin to think we were moving, it stopped recording. There was a LOT of walking…