Lukmanier Pass (1,915 m), Oberalppass (2,046 m)
A hearty meal of salad, pizza and chips washed down with plenty of cool beer and sorbet the night before had set us up for another decent days’ worth of riding, day number 7 of our alpine adventure. A comfortable sleep in Biasca with an excellent buffet breakfast of bread, jam, toast, cereals, dried fruit all washed down with a few cups of good strong coffee had filled the tanks and after the customary half hour waiting around for Billy to get his act together we were all set and ready to go.
View from the cycle path across the valley, looking towards Ludiano
Phil had been experiencing a few troubles with the gearing on his bike the previous afternoon and we started the day by calling into the local bike shop to give it a quick once over, and for a restock of energy gels and hydration tabs. Unfortunately, the quick gear check turned into a bit of a full bike service and it was gone half past ten that we were all eventually back on the road and ready to go.
The ride started at a gentle pace as we tracked along the bottom of the valley towards the town of Ludiano, where we joined a picturesque gently rolling cycle path which brought us to the outskirts of the town of Torre and the base of the first of our two major climbs of the day, the 1920m high pass of Lucomagno.
I was feeling strong after our delayed easy start to the day, so took to the front of the group and set a steady pace as we made our way up the climb. The average gradient of the climb is around 5%, with some short steeper sections and a long flatter section towards the top. We all stayed together and after an hour were approaching the summit. Here Phil took to the front and with a kick managed to split the group, Billy sensing the end to the climb was in sight broke off the front and despite a good hand sling shot from Jered I was too tired from my earlier exertions to catch him and he took some well earnt KOM points. The top of the climb brought some terrific views of distant snow-capped mountains.
After taking some photos and regrouping we finished the climb, (the actual peak of the climb is in a tunnel, which incidentally I took first!) we then began the fast and fun descent to the pretty mountain village of Curaglia. Here we stopped to refuel at the local Volg supermarket, (peanut puff crisps now becoming a firm favourite) and then continued our route along the Surselva valley. Here the gentle uphill road follows the course of the Vorderrein, one of the two main tributaries to the Rein.
Billy (facing) and Jered, at the top of the Lucomagno climb.
Passing through the town of Sedrun, we started on the 2046m high Oberalppass, the second major climb of the day. Tired legs began to show and the group became stretched out. Ever strong Jered and Jos took to the head of the group and soon disappeared around the edge of the mountain, taking it easy and enjoying the scenery I hung back with a hot and tired Billy as we made our way steadily to the village of Tschamut, marking the beginning of the steeper section of the climb. Here we met up with Justin and Phil who were filling their water bottles beside a very welcome mountain spring.
Approaching Tschamut, the spring is just around the corner.
The cool and clear water from these springs, which are a common sight along the road side, and in the mountain villages, are a truly wonderfully refreshing experience. I have many fond memories of our trip, where hot and tired we would assemble beside these springs and take time to cool off. Justin often opting to semi submerge himself in the accompanying trough to avoid the dreaded “hot foot.”
Justin and Phil pushed on not long after our arrival and Billy and myself took some time out in the shade to relax and prepare for the final push on the ascent. Billy was obviously suffering at this point, possibly the kick up to the top of Lucamagno had attributed to this, and we rested for a good 15 minutes before setting off again. The remaining part of the climb was pretty steep with a good few switchbacks, along with the heat and attrition from the previous few days riding we dug in and crawled up the final few hairpins until the “lighthouse” marking the top of the climb finally came into sight.
An exhausted Billy atop the Oberalppass.
After a cool drink at the café at the top of the climb, along with some friendly banter offered by Jered and Jos about waiting for us for over an hour, we began the quick twisting descent to the very pretty town of Andermatt. The road on the descent follows the mountain railway and as we set off a train was passing, it was good fun waving to the passengers and racing the train as we made our way down the mountainside.
Andermatt below. Note the single gauge railway in the foreground.
Arriving on the cobbled streets of Andermatt, our riding for the day was now concluded and we quickly made our way to the nearest bar and ordered the customary round of beers, as Phil took a tour of the town to find a hotel. Settled in to the hotel, showered and dressed we all made a stop at the supermarket for dinner, here taken on a park bench and shared with some friendly sparrows. After dinner, the skies opened and a good downpour cooled the streets and brought a welcome freshness to the air. A few of us decided to take an early night and catch up on some sleep, where others decided that they had not quite managed to recount the number calories burnt throughout the day and decided to hit the local bars. Thus concluded day 7 of our adventure, good times!
Phil racing over the cobbles of Andermatt, on the scout out for a hotel.
(Note: the above video displays as day 6, this is because Phil didn’t count our transition from the airport to the start of the route as day 1.)
Link to Justin's Strava...