Jerry’s Tour of the Dolomites and Central Alps 2003 – Day Eight

Javré — Madonna di Campiglio — Passo di Tonale — Passo del Mortirolo — Bormio (147.5 km, 3629 m up, 19-41 C)


Before leaving Javré I took a photo inside the very peculiar and interesting bar/hotel (Pub da Giorgio).

It is a nice but slightly busy road up to the winter sport resort Madonna di Campiglio and the pass above Passo di Campo Carlo Magno (1681m). The nicest village on the way is probably Pinzolo, which seemed like a popular tourist place and after which the road gets a bit narrower and less straight (but this a rather big road anyway).

The pass and the landscape around Madonna di Campiglio is not very noteworthy (at least not from the road). The road goes down in the woods on nice serpentines to Dimaro (766m), and here I had a little lunch. It was a really hot day. This whole summer was extraordinarily hot in the alps. I got really tired during the way up to Passo di Tonale (1883 m) in the calm and heat. It is not an easy pass – even if never more than around 9%, it is rather long. This pass is also not among the more beautiful passes in the area. On the way west of this pass one could turn right just before arriving at Ponte di Legno and go up the very steep (16%) road to Passo di Gavia (2621m). This is a much more preferable way over to Bormio, than the way I took and much more scenic.

Pas de la Foppa

I already have been cycling that way (in the other direction) in the summer of 2000 (two years after it was surfaced for the first time), so I had decided to go over the even more famous Mortirolo pass further down the valley. This pass is famous, since it has been a real killer in the Giro d’Italia many times. They usually climb it from the other side, which is relentless and with long stretches of up to 20% on a narrow road. I went up from Monno, which is easier. It is a bit steep at first, but then gets really rather easy until the last part which is around 20% also. Just before the steep part, I found a place to refill my water bottle and could recommend that, as it was the best tasting water I got across on this trip. Seems like other people drove up there with their cars to fill up water (maybe for restaurants). (It is only a pipe laying on the ground.)

Mortirolo Sud

The Mortirolo pass is really not situated at the pass height of the tarmac road, but at the end of an unsurfaced road on the other side of the hill to the left in the photo of the true pass sign of the road crossing, which says Pas di la Foppa (you can see the more modern road sign in the background claiming this is the Mortirolo pass). This photo is taken in the direction of Monno, from where I came. I then went back a little and turned to the right on another surfaced road which climbs a little up until the Mortirolo-Sud pass, and had another not so successful photo taken in the other direction that you see here also with some mountains in the distance.

Above Grosio

The road down the steeper side of the Foppa/Mortirolo pass has a choice. You can go right after a while and go further up the valley to Grosio, which I did, since I was on my way up to Bormio. I took another photo along this beautiful road. I stopped to take the photo just there because I realised the road just vanished in the distance and it was rather representative of how unpredictable this steep road was. You better think twice while descending this road, but the surface is fine all the way!

Down in Grosio (656m) it was quite hot again. The road up to Bormio in Valtellina is not very pleasant. I took the wrong road choice once and ended up on the busy big road where I believe it is not allowed to cycle. An Italian who also went that way with me thought so too and returned to the smaller road, but I just continued through a tunnel and then took off the next time there was a possibility (I think I did some illegal turning off the road also). Then there is a rather lonely little road with one steep ramp, but otherwise there no steep sections up to Bormio. When approaching Bormio, there were big signs claiming I would be fined heavily if I continued on the big road, but it was not clear just how I was supposed to go up to Bormio and being a bit tired, I thought I simply would not pay notice (though I could have probably easily have been fined there, so not recommended). I was lucky though.

I stopped a little earlier this day as it made no good sense trying to get further on my planned trip this day (up to the Torri di Fraele, where there is no place to stay for the night as far as I know). I found the hotel I stayed at in 2000 (it was being restored). It is called Borgia Vecchia and is a good choice for the price. (They do not understand one word of English there.) I walked around the town a little and bought a new sun cream, but only used it once as my old Nivea lasted longer than I had expected.

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