Cross One Off The Bucket List: Riding the Stelvio Pass in Italy
In realm of people who are passionate about pursuits that involve wheels; cars, motorcycles, bicycles – it seems that everyone knows the name Stelvio. We’ve seen it in photos around the internet, zig-zagging it’s way up and down through the Italian Alps. It has become a legend, a holy grail road.
Before having seen it with my own eyes, I too held the Stelvio Pass as the pinnacle of my road riding desires. I made a deal with myself that I would ride it one day. Sunday September 5, 2010 was that day.
Stelvio holds in it’s grip 60 hairpin turns. Yes… 60. From the Bormio side heading north as you begin your ascent, you turn, turn, turn your way up thinking – “wow, this is amazing! I can’t believe all of these hairpin turns!”
That is of course until we crested the summit and began our descent. There are 48 hairpins on the way down, each marked with numbered stones. Winding down those terraced turns broke us in right for the rest of the trip.
You learn quickly that even though it may feel alien to you, at times you have to use the both lanes. There is no staying only on “your side”. It was a trial by fire and I felt like I was prepared for anything the trip would throw at us after that.
The summit of Stelvio is like a party at 9,000 feet up. There are people from all over the world laughing, taking photos and enjoying the kinship of like-minded people who also came to behold such an awesome spectacle.
Milling around up there at the summit, watching all of the bikes and people was a moment in time that I felt like I wanted to hold on to as tightly as I could. I’d waited so long to see this thing. I never want to forget what I was seeing, what the air felt like, what it took for us to get there. As with everything though, you have to let it go and move on. So onward we went, down, down, down the Stelvio pass.