12 July 2011
At breakfast at the hotel, we met Leo, who would join us on the climb up Stelvio that day. He led us out of Glorenza via a wonderful bike path that passed within a stone's throw of our hotel. We made a stop in Prad to try and get some Italian SIM cards, but to no avail.
It was a clear and somewhat warm day, and we could see the glacier from Prad. We started up the climb to Stelvio.
The real climb starts just past Trafoi. The eastern approach to Stelvio has 48 hairpin turns, each of them labeled.
The only nice place to rest on the way up is the hotel at the 22nd hairpin, where we stopped and I ate some ice cream. Here Leo left to continue up the mountain ahead of us.
While I was eating, I saw a SAD bus pull up.
On Stelvio, as well as occasionally on some other recent passes, something strange had been happening: I reached the pass/summit ahead of Piaw. This never happens during peacetime, but I guess day after day of touring starts to take its toll after a while.
The view of the switchbacks from the pass is pretty epic, though the top is a real tourist trap.
We descended down the west side of Stelvio towards Bormio. There were more hairpins, and also a series of tunnels, on the descent.
In Bormio, after what at first appeared to be a wild goose chase, we finally obtained Italian SIM cards. At this point we had been worn down enough that we would have been happy just to be able to make phone calls to each other, but the phone company (TIM) was doing a promotion, and these SIM cards also came with free and unlimited internet access!
We had a family-style dinner at the hotel (including Stelvio brand beer, which we thought we had earned) while listening to Italian renditions of English songs. Crazy, those Italians are.
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