Above the clouds

Breakfast wasn’t great but at least we had something to eat. We packed our stuff and at 08:10 we were Oscar Mike to lake Garda. We planned to eat there and have a swim.
We took the national roads instead of the highway in order to spare the tires. The heat was unbearable. By the time we arrived in Piacenza it was already 40 degrees and we were sweating. We only stopped for fuel once. It was around noon when we made it to Desenzano del Garda where we stopped at a piazza and sat down in the shade of a restaurant’s terrace. We quickly ordered drinks aplenty and opted for pizzas (yes, again!). After lunch we went for a walk and took a couple of pics. As we realised we still have some 300 km to push through to our destination where we had rooms booked we decided to skip the swimming part even though it would have been very refreshing.
We scrolled through Brescia in the traffic but were soon back at normal pace skipping through numerous tunnels which made the heat even more unpleasant. Some of them were more than 2 km long and the air was hot and polluted. To amuse ourselves we tried to push through them with a single breath.
The road was winding North next to the Lago d’Iseo from where we took the SS42 until Ponte di Legno. We then took a turn towards Bormio. It was one of the most beautiful parts of the road though we sometimes feared for our lives as there are parts where there isn’t even space for two cars. 

 

In some cases we just prayed that no one comes from the other direction after the next turn. But as I just said the view compensates for the thrill. There are sheep and shepherd dogs eating / lying next to the road while you are contemplating the numerous snowy mountain tops or the lakes that formed from the melting snow.

Once in Bormio we bought fuel and sat for a drink. We were all quite happy to be only 40 km from our destination and it was only 6.00 pm. Csabi was the only pessimistic member who thought we won’t make it before 8.00 pm.
So we jumped on the bikes and went for the Stelvio. Yes. Passo dello Stelvio. That was one of the most awaited parts of the trip. It is the second highest pass in Europe (2760 m). The road starts from Bormio upwards. Mountain springs, lakes, tunnels and a LOT of turns and twists. There are 49 loops to the top and down. Some say that this is the most beautiful pass on the continent. Even though I loved the French Alps this is something different – except perhaps for the sometimes uneven surface.
We set off in the usual order: Zsolt, Ocsi, Csabi, me, Attila and John – the latter too in a tourist pace as usual.  We must have been halfway up to the top when I saw bikes in my mirror so I told Csabi that the Attila and John caught up with us (even though it was unlikely) but he told me I am dreaming. In fact I wasn’t. There were two guys chasing us on their supermotos.
Well I didn’t want to loose my pride so the poor GS had to give everything it got. They even tried to pass me in the loops as I used both first and second gears to keep the distance. Regardless of my efforts they passed me at a straight as if I was standing… and soon did the same to the others. I warned them through the comms but in vain. There was nothing we could do against them. Our bikes are much heavier anyways and they were fully packed.
As the two bikers turned towards passo Umbrail Zsolt and Ocsi followed them. As they soon stopped our guys did the same to have a look at the bikes that beat us. As it turned out it was father and son (14 years old) who were just waiting at the side of the road and they saw a challenge so they followed us for a “race”. They didn’t have a difficult job with their 100 kg / 50 HPS supermotos considering that they also know the road by heart. Ocsi was devastated. He tried so hard to keep up with them that his panniers touched the surface several time in the bends… still bearing the marks to date. For him this will be a marked as a Black Thursday in the calendar.
At the top I bought the usual stickers and we obviously made the compulsory tourist pictures. 

 
We then took a slower pace downwards as the temperatures started to drop with the sun disappearing slowly. We arrived to our destination in Prato allo Stelvio (Pension Astoria (N46 36.982, E10 35.440) at 20.15 so Csabi was right with regards to timing. The accommodation was good. The only hiccup was that our host thought we’ll be a no show so he gave out one of the rooms hence we had to accept a 3-bed room in an adjacent another building. 

After the usual administrative and hygienic routines we had a couple of beers and headed for a place to eat. Wonder what? Well… PIZZA! It was our last night in Italy after all (even though it is Süd Tirol and everyone speaks German). We chatted with our food and drinks about the “black Thursday” and the daily events and sights before heading back for a sleep short before midnight.

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