The Stelvio Pass; is the world’s most famous road to cycle, drive and motorbike. During the day this fame has brought about a relentless amount of traffic, in particular squads of motorbikes. Blasting past you at crazy speeds can feel uncomfortable, and as a cyclist, it spoils the experience. But imagine having the road to yourself? I hope this will be the case.
The sun is due to set at 9.15 pm (it’s the 3rd of July) and my setup is the same as before, except with a slight twist I’m running the Bright as Day 3000 as my primary lamp, mounted on my Wahoo mount as my primary and the Bright as Day 2000 as my on helmet direction lamp as my secondary. Having this second lamp on my head is handy for looking around corners and illuminating where you’re exactly looking. The slight twist this time is that I’ve placed the battery in my bar bag, rather than frame.
Leaving before 8 pm and with 48 switchbacks!, and 1857 vertical meters of climbing in 24.9km, I was keen to get above the trees before dusk. To experience the iconic switchbacks above the tree line, in particular, corner 11 before it got dark. This corner, a marvel of engineering hangs off the rock. I’m there, I’m experiencing it and so far no cars.
A slingshot towards the summit and a relatively straight run until the switchbacks continue. My lights are on their brightest settings as I still have light. Talking of which as I got to corner 9 (switchbacks count down) I was treated to an insane light show. The light filtering through the moody clouds hit patches of the mountains. Like a light beam from left to right. What an incredible sight.
Into the rarefied air, I’m now about 2500m as the Stelvio is the 2nd highest road in the Alps. Proudly standing at 2757m above sea level. You can feel it, especially as you hit the final few switchbacks. Are they more epic than Corner 11? Maybe! Especially as the road was built by hand.
I hit the summit and it feels weird. The summit normally packed with cars, bikes, people and more is empty. A ghost town. Also, super happy about how warm it is. No wind and the temperature is still above 10 degrees. Up here you can experience all the seasons in one day. Be prepared for all weather!
With the moon providing some extra illumination, it’s time to put the lights on the maximum (5000 combined lumens!) and hit the descent. So far I’ve seen just one car in 2hrs, let’s hope zero on the way down.
“Let the bike run,” I say to myself, with so much effective brightness, my knowledge of the road and no traffic I’m going to enjoy this.
Through the switchbacks, past the Berghotel and into the trees. The smell! So fresh and zero light to be found in here. It feels a bit spooky with no sound total silence apart from the bzzzzz of my rear hub.
Descending the Stelvio is pretty intense and if you’re pushing it hard work. Staying sharp to keep your lines and once you break out of the trees to the commune of Trafoi you’re happy to get off the helter-skelter. Long straight runs until the last two switchbacks by the raging river (two of my favourites) before then being hurled back into the tunnel section. Here in this confined environment, you see the power of these lights. I think brighter than car headlights.
10km of blissful downhill reflective riding back to the start; thinking to myself imagine if it was like this during the day. The experience transformed by seeing just one car the entire time. A memory to never forget. More, please.
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