#7Countries7Passes Day 8 - Stelvio Pass

Sometimes things just all seem to go to plan; today was, unusually, one of those days.

Yesterday was a superb rest day in Merano. I enjoyed a large leisurely breakfast, and spa at the Hotel Therm. The rest of the day included lunch with family, a walk to a waterfall, and plenty of coffee and relaxing.

This morning, I had my last hot shower until most likely Sunday night, and once again made the most of the hotel buffet. Then, I set off back up the bike path that I had descended down on Day 7's finish. Direction: Stelvio Pass.

After a good two hours of winding up through the apple orchards that cover South Tyrol's valleys, I eventually came to the foot of the pass.

At over 2,700 metres above sea level, the Stelvio is a summit well in the Haute Categorie. I have ridden it before, when I raced up it in 2015. There would be no KOMs today though, on my 26kg fully laden touring set-up.

The climb seemed to be challenging, but manageable. The weather conditions were pretty much perfect; with a cool breeze and double digit temperatures. That wasn't the case for my Day 7 passes...

The duration is the tough thing with Stelvio; the climb took me two and a half hours; almost an hour longer than my previous time. Eventually though, I reached the summit. I rewarded myself with a Snickers bar.

From the top of the pass it is a fast and beautiful descent to Bormio. Then the downward racing continued, on a small secluded bike path.

I had passed my target spot for the day by 16:30; the descent was that quick. I continued on down the valley.

Strava routing threw me another curve ball when suddenly I diverted off the valley floor bike path, and up the 'Vino Panorama'.

Through the vines, this took me on some incredibly steep narrow roads. My legs weren't too happy, but the views were breathtaking .

By 19:30, I was ready to call it a day. I bought some supplies to make a version of 'beans on toast'; had a wash at a village tap; then found a great camping spot next to the river.

A good day in the saddle.


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