Day 4: The Alps - Meiringen, Switzerland to Bellano, Italy
Up at 7am... The much anticipate first day through the alps had arrived! Look out the window and it's cloudy... and wet... again. Go online and the weather report for Meiringen is showing a high of a mere 5 degrees for the day! We head downstairs for our breakfast, and the owner greets us with more bad news... the mountain passes had closed overnight due to snow! When I asked when they would reopen, her response was that they may not until next year! Just about the worst thing she could have said at that moment.
Time wasn't on our side - we needed to get to Italy for the night regardless, and our two current options were to take the main highway around the mountains or a train directly through them (both of which involved skipping the passes entirely). Neither appealed to us, so we choose to wait it out. about 3 and half hours later the owner gets word from a friend who owns a hotel on the Furka pass... the passes were just reopened!
We got our things together and hustled out the door for what would be one of the best days of riding I have ever had.
10:30am outside the hotel, ready to hit the Grimsel Pass.
Looking back at an approaching adventurer, heading through the clouds as we begin to climb the Grimsel pass.
Taken about 10 minutes after the last shot - Continuing the climb, the temperature drops to around freezing and the landscape turns white. This would explain the snowplow we'd just passed shortly before.
Visibility would drastically reduce as we continue the climb towards the summit. Wrapping another hairpin the bike slipped on ice for a split second (2:22 in video) - my heart dropped and ears peirced as Megan shrieked through the headset.
After riding over patches of icy snow - white-knuckled trying to keep the bike as straight and smooth on the throttle as possibile - we were relieved to reach the summit with the rubber side still down!
-4 degrees at the summit, we were joined by two cyclists who also needed to be in Italy for the night to catch their flight the next morning.
Looking in the direction of the Furka Pass, next up.
Finishing up the Grimsel pass as riders from Belgium look in the direction we came.
The snow turns to rain... more rain, but we're in good spirits.
Starting the climb up the Furka Pass, looking back at Grimsel.
The view to the right... melting glacier water flows down the mountain. To get a sense of scale, notice the chalet in the top right corner.
Higher up Furka... travelers enjoying the view.
The view with Grimsel still in the distance. Note to self - leave the bike in gear. ;)
Further along, the clouds flowed across the road. Now towards the end of the pass, most of it prior was completely covered in a coat of stark white snow, but with no spot to pull over for pictures, the video would have to do!
Looking off to the right with the mountain in view.
The clouds engulfing the mountain.
Megan was holding up well considering the conditions - wet gloves and freezing temps.
Towards the end of Furka, the sky began to open up.
At the edge of the clouds.
Stopping again to take in the views... the sound of cowbells clanging in the wind would soon be replaced by the sweet sound of a supermotard tearing through the hairpins, leg out and all...
I LOVE Switzerland. A riders paradise!
Onwards we go!
Stopping for some goulash soup.
The view after coming out of a tunnel.
Riding the Maloja Pass, we arrived in Italy as the sun was setting.
Houses in the Italian mountains on our way to Bellano for the night (near lake Como).
The temperature in Italy would now be close to 20 degrees! As we rode through the quiet winding streets of Bellano, nerves kicked in as we hadn't had the time to reserve a hotel for the night. We arrived at a dimly lit B&B (Villa Anita) at around 10pm... We knocked on the door a few times before anyone acknowledged. The grandmother (and owner) was surprised to see us and super thrilled to let us know she had one room left, just for us.
We spent the rest of the night by the one open pizzeria by the lake. Thanks to Megan's fluency in Italian, the owners loved us! We hung out with them and family friends until 1am.
Loaded up on wine and pizza we headed back for the deepest sleep of the trip.
Next up in tomorrows itinerary would be Stelvio Pass - the road I'd dreamed about riding for the last 10 years.
Day 4 riding video:
Lots of additional mountain pass footage here that I didn't have the chance to capture on my camera. It's a bit of a longer one so grab a drink, get comfy and enjoy.