Motorcycle Nirvana: Riding The Splügen Pass
In typical case-of-the-Mondays fashion, the weather report didn’t look promising. But, the fact that the fog was burning off and the sun was elbowing it’s way through the cloud cover was a encouraging. Three sets of wheels hurtled towards riding nirvana.
One beautiful thing about the alpine mountain passes of northern Italy and Switzerland is their proximity to each other. You come off of one pass and with just a few turns you’re heading towards another. Having spent the night basically at the foot of the Maloja pass, we were in prime position to set our sights on the Splügen pass.
When you head up the Splugen pass from the city of Chiavenna, the road wriggles it’s way up a mountain along a terraced roadway. Hairpin turns are stacked against the earth rising up, up up and you find yourself riding through unlit tunnels on the side of the mountain. Hairpin turn in a tunnel, anyone?
The Italian portion of the approach to the Splügen pass and it’s terraced turns and tunnels is viewable on Google Maps street view. If you have some time to poke around, take a look for yourself! It will give you a feel for what the climb was like.
On many of the passes it seemed that there was a personality shift when you reached a plateau. With Splügen, when the road started to loosen up a bit you are treated a view of Lago di Monte Spluga and the turns become much more gentle and flowing. When I say gentle – I mean more like a sidewinder instead of a coiled rattlesnake.
Shortly after Lago di Monte Spluga came in to view, I came around a corner only to have to throw on the anchors in a hurry. There were cows parked in the middle of the road. That was an… interesting moment. When I finally made my way to where Kenny and Pimmie were parked, they too were having fun with cows. You can see Pimmie making friends in the video clip:
Near the Italian-Swiss border the feeling of the pass changed again. The road became a ribbon of turns that worked it’s way down into a valley. When my eyes first caught a glimpse of what was spilling out before me I actually said “wow” out loud and immediately stopped for a picture. Unfortunately no photograph I ever took could do justice to the magnificence of this delicious roadway making its way through such a beautiful landscape.
When we reached the end of the pass in the town of Splügen, Switzerland, I swear I wanted to hi-five somebody. But then I’d have to kick my own ass. The riding and the scenery of the pass were amazing. On a day that was off to an iffy start with Pim not feeling well and the threat of rain, we’d just made out like bandits. And this was just the beginning…