Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stelvio

The Stelvio pass is, at 2757 mtr, the second highest paved mountain pass in Europe. It's just 13 mtr below the Cold de 'Iseran in France. It's a favourite with motorcyclists, again mostly from Germany. Why is it that Germans travel so much more than any other nationality? When I read a couple of years back that the GS1200 was BMW's best selling model, I was surprised. Having been here, I'm not. They are absolutely everywhere! While talking to a group of 20 or 30 motorcyclists from Germany I asked if there were any BMWs left in Germany or if they were all here. They clearly enjoyed their bikes and use them for travelling. Good on them! The Stelvio itself is in a national park and as such protected… but unfortunately not from idiots, as we were to find out. 

The roads towards the Stelvio are magic. The Stelvio is in an area which can truly be described as 'of outstanding beauty'. Just look at the photos on this page! In the valleys we found lots of vineyards. Small tractors pulling heavy loads of grapes clogged the roads as it was clearly harvesting time. It didn't bother us as overtaking on a motorcycle is a lot easier then in a car. The Stelvio itself caused us a few problems though…

Working in places like this creates extra challenges
even when simply mowing the grass...
The Stelvio is steep. According to something Mike read it belongs to the 10 most dangerous roads in the world, that claim the most lives annually. The Norwegian Trollstigen is on the same list too. Quite frankly, the roads are fine; it's the people driving them. With the Stelvio however it's not the drivers but the riders causing the problems.


The Scotts have been
here too!
Apparently the scenery is not what most riders we saw came for. We saw a 1200GS taking hairpin bends in MotoGP style, with sliding front and spinning rear wheel.

The bell around the cow's neck is to make it easier
for the farmer to find them back. The clanging sound
can be heard everywhere here and is typical for
the Alpine region
We also saw them overtaking cars on the inside at hairpins… causing a whole host of problems for others around them. I'm sorry to say that on that day I felt absolutely ashamed of being on a motorcycle. Whatever you ride and whatever your capabilities may or may not be, it is still a public road. The ones we saw overtaking on the inside were very lucky that the car driver saw them on his inside mirror and stopped as there was simply no room. He stalled his vehicle, of course, on full lock on a steep road. I was behind him and behind me another car (which they had overtaken on the outside at the same corner…) The car in front stalled and the car behind me almost crashed into me because of those idiots. The world would have been better off if he had not seen the motorcyclists and ran over them, before they kill someone else.

At the top we made a couple of photos under the Stelvio sign and enjoyed being on the most famous pass of them all. Riding down, we found the descent much easier. The road on the south side still has hairpins but the road is not so narrow. Riding the Stelvio from south to north is thus the better route to take, especially as it gives much better views through the corners at the racers going up. Doing the Stelvio south/north also gives the better views and the few parking areas that are there are then on your side of the road.

Bormio has one campground, not a nice place and expensive. We had no choice as it was getting late. Looking at the photos I made that day, the whole route 'played' in my head again. The scenery is breathtaking and despite being one of the 10 most dangerous roads, I would certainly want to do it again; but like I said earlier from South to North. Mike is ticking boxes on his bucket list, mine just keeps growing :-)


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