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Alps - Day 9 : Bread in a ditch

In the morning it was clouded and Bram stayed in his bivy bag for a long time. Usually I turned on my phone exactly at 7:45 and as I couldn't switch its sound off Bram would wake up. Around 8:30 we would then be ready to leave. This time I had already packed and eaten when Bram woke up at 8:30. To save some time he didn't have breakfast and quickly packed everything.

Right away we started with the first mountain of the day. I had split the route description in 22 equal parts and we were now one day behind schedule. The main reason it wasn't more was because we made way less detours in the mountains (1-5% extra) compared to in the 10-15% in the flat, urban areas. 

 

After climbing for a while Bram felt pretty hungry, so we cycled to the side of the road to eat. Bram took yesterday's bread and threw it on a concrete wall. The bread had such a thick crust that it could easily handle that. However, it landed, rolled for a while, and then disappeared. It had fallen in a mountain stream two meters lower. I was laughing really hard. Bram went down to fetch the bread while I quickly took out the camera. Unfortunately the batteries died. If we removed the thick crust the bread was still fine.

 

A bit further we had a nice view over a glacier. Meanwhile I realized that I could use the batteries of my tail light to power the camera. I screwed off the light cover. The batteries in there turned out to be empty as well. I also lost the screw, so now I don't have a tail light nor a working camera. It was raining the last hour of the climb. There were trains passing near the summit, with some open wagons for tourists. Our friend Koen and his girlfriend were traveling by train through the Alps, but we didn't see them.

On the summit we remembered we could also take pictures using our phones. So here is a picture of the top:

passo del bernina
passo del bernina

On the Passo del Bernina

A nice descent into Italy followed. Trains ran right through the next village and we had to be careful not to get stuck in the tracks. We reached another busy road where we bought lots of food at a Lidl. In a rare occasion we only managed to eat half of it. We fitted righ in with the homeless people having lunch in the parking lot. 

alpen 053.jpg

We bought way too much food at the Lidl
 

There followed another mountain, this one looked more like a French col. It went up in hairpin turns instead of straight over some mountain plain. We overtook a woman on cycling vacation, she had panniers and a trailer. With so much luggage climbing any mountain was an achievement. The mountain we were climbing was called 'Passo D'Aprica'. 

Passo  D'Aprica

Passo D'Aprica
 

On top of the Apica was a bicycle store and gas station. I went to ask for a new outer tire, my rear one still had the hole from the piece of glass a few days ago and at some places the orange protective layer was becoming visible. Unfortunately, they didn't sell the right tires.

 

A nice descent followed before we reached today's last climb. This was the huge Gavia pass. In Ponte di Legno two passes were indicated, but not their names. We followed the signs but realized we were going up the wrong mountain, so we turned around again. Back down we asked for direction, the man said we had been on the right road after all, apparently it split a bit higher up. He also said it was pretty late for us to go up there.

 

We started climbing again and this time discovered the fork in the road. On the map the road was depicted as a white line, which meant it would be quiet. After a while we came across a truck that was stuck in a corner. A car going down was waiting. A few 100 meters later we saw signs 'forbidden for trucks more than 3500 kg'. The road got very small and steep, two cars wouldn't even be able to pass each other. It the truck driver would continue he would get into real trouble.

We got our own problems on the pass. It was cold, drizzling and very steep. It was a nice road tough, with new asphalt and hardly any cars. It looked a lot like the Bonette we had climbed last year in France, it was just as cold and tough. The fact that many drivers were waving and encouraging us also didn't predict much good. After climbing for over two hours we took a photo.

passo gavia

A mountain hut, it would be nice to camp there some time
 

The last part of the climb involved a lot of tunnels. Most where short but there was one long one. We rode into a black hole, suddenly there was only gray fog around us. We switched our lights on and it was hard to keep our balance without seeing much. Before us we only saw darkness and a weak reflection of the asphalt. Because we were going up hill we weren't cycling fast and our headlights gave almost no light. It was all very spooky and something we have only experienced during cycling vacation. After a while we turned around. We saw a diffuse semi-circle where we had entered. A car came up, we started ringing our bells as much as possible hoping the people inside would hear us. Luckily that worked. By the time we reached the top it was twilight. We quickly put on warm clothes and took a picture.

passo gavia

Fogg on the Gavia pass.
 

The descent was fun, in the dark, with only our headlights to guide us.

alpen 061.jpg

View during the descent
 

Unfortunately the village of Bormio didn't have a campsite. It was already dark, so we needed to camp in the wild. A kilometer farther it wasn't as densely build and we found a nice hill to 'sleep' on. It was still drizzling. It rained the entire night so we didn't get much sleep.


Distance cycled : 156 km