It was day 3 of the Bormio leg of our Italian cycling holiday in 2013. We’d ticked off the Mortirolo (killer), the Stelvio (gruelling) and now decided to have a bit of a rest day & tackle the Gavia. Ha! Rest my arse.
The Passo di Gavia is a mountain pass in the Italian Alps. According to Wikipedia it’s the tenth highest paved road in the Alps. The brilliant thing about the Gavia (Stelvio too), is that the climb starts right from the town of Bormio, so if you have based yourself there you can simply roll out of bed on to your bike & head straight up the climb (maybe have an espresso for motivation first…). Even better is that once you’ve finished you can roll straight back down & into the gelato shop!
My legs were feeling fairly tired after two days of tough climbs in them. But, the sun was shining & we were here on a cycling holiday with a bunch of friends, so I couldn’t really wimp out and not tackle climb number three.
I’m so glad I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the Gavia is tough. With an average grade of 6% kicking up to 12% at times, this climb is by no means a walk in the park. However, I think it is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever done.
I actually didn’t find it as hard as I thought I would - probably because I was stopping to take photos at every switchback. Phil (hubby dearest) was not impressed. Actually he was downright grumpy that I was going so slow. Who can be grumpy on such a glorious day??
(Check out Phil's face at the back - not impressed by photo stop number 15...)
Ok, so maybe I got grumpy too when we got closer to the top & had a good stretch of road that didn’t go below 12% with sheer drops on one side...but I’ve blocked that out.
The grumpiness just couldn’t keep hold of me when the last couple of kilometers flattened out and we found ourselves riding by a magical Alpine lake surrounded by snow, the sun was shining...and there was a cafe that served goulash up ahead! This is when you have one of those epiphanies...when you realise why you put yourself through the pain of riding a 17km mountain pass. It’s because of the goulash.
Apparently the climb from the other side is the more famous, appearing in the Giro d’Italia. There were murmurings of descending the other side & climbing back up again, then we laughed that off, ate some more goulash & descended the same side. Maybe another time. Who’s for gelato?!