6/2 Prutz to Lake Maggiore, Italy

And we awoke to...rain.

Decent breakfast at the hotel, no rush as we were hoping the rain would taper off before we rolled out. No such luck. The plan today was to make it to Lake Maggiore in Italy, riding over the first real passes of the trip. Things didn't go exactly according to plan.

"wetter" indeed

The first road we had planned to take was closed and we got diverted into a much busier and less interesting series of roads. Eventually we started seeing signs for Nauders and that helped us figure out a plan to get back on track. It was also around here that we got seperated for the first time that day. Peter and Dave had GPS's with the routes while I was just following along. Between the heavy traffic and several roundabouts I lost sight of the guys. I figured they would wait up at the next town, but as I slowly rolled through I couldn't spot them. I got to the end of the town and zoomed ahead 3 or 4 miles to the next town, but didn't see them there either. I did see a lot of cool bikes coming the other way, presumably coming from Stelvio and Nauders. I u-turned and on the second pass through through the first town I spotted Dave and Peter on a side street - easy for me to miss when I was riding the other way. We had a roadside discussion about not losing each other and continued on our way.

At some point we crossed into Switzerland past some border guards who were busy with tour busses. I don't think we were supposed to stop anyway. Our first real pass of the trip was to be Abula Pass and my anticipation grew as we started to wind our way up the pass. Unfortunately we only made it a mile or two before we found the pass closed due to snow. This would not be the last time we got caught out by this. Not by a long shot.

By the time we stopped for lunch the weather had vastly improved

Starting up the first pass of the trip, Abula Pass

Narrow and pretty

Abula Pass closed due to snow. Our timing of the trip earlier in the season would prove...challenging.

Peter is still blissfully ignorant of the closed road ahead.

After some quick rerouting we plotted a course past St. Moritz to Splugen Pass. We were heading over some minor pass, I don't recall what it was, and we agreed to do our usual pass riding - go your own pace over the pass, stop to take pictures if you like, and regroup at the top or the bottom. Dave was in the lead, Peter behind him and I was in the back. After a few miles we got strung out and lost sight of each other, no big deal on a pass. Peter and I caught up to each other, but when we rolled through the town at the bottom of the pass we couldn't spot Dave. I figured he went ahead to the next town and was actually a little annoyed, figuring this was a repeat of the incident earlier in the day. Peter and I rode and rode, but couldn't find Dave. Eventually we got to Thusis where we would change roads so we parked in town and tried to figure out what to do. Did Dave just keep riding, figuring Peter had the route? Did we miss him someplace behind us? Did something bad happen? We were deciding what to do (double back? continue because he's ahead of us?) when Dave rode up. Apparantly we missed him waaay back in the town at the bottom of the pass and he was pretty upset that we rode past him and kept going. We talked again about our pass riding strategy. Thankfully this was the last time we got split up.

The road up Splugen Pass was basically just hairpin after hairpin, getting colder and colder as we went higher and higher. The pavement was pretty beat up which was giving the Crosstourer fits of headshaking. The temperature at the top was just over freezing, it was raining slightly and foggy, and the weather was looking unsure. Our route to Lake Maggiore didn't really go over Splugen, we were just doing it as an up-and-back, and with the weather we decided not to go down the other side only to go back up again. We turned around at the summit and did the hairpins again on the descent.

Pretty dang cold at the summit of Splugen

Crossing into Italy!

Me (photo by Peter)

Looking back down Splugen Pass. Peter's in bright yellow.

The Crosstourer parked on Splugen

After coming back down Splugen the weather improved as we headed for San Bernardino Pass. So far we had ridden through a lot of rain, got turned around at a closed Abula Pass, lost each other twice, did half of a bumpy freezing-cold Splugen Pass but San Bernardino Pass was worth it. Smooth pavement, great twisties, big views, etc. It was cold and empty at the top.

Heading up San Bernardino Pass

Dave coming up San Bernardino

Top of the pass

Time for a snack at the top of the pass

Crosstourer at the top

Peter coming down San Bernardino

The other side of San Bernardino Pass was even better

After the twisty goodness of San Bernardino Pass we spent much of the rest of the afternoon on highways and busy main roads on the way to the lake. Right after the pass we almost made the mistake of heading North instead of South, which would have stuck us in a huge traffic jam through a long tunnel. Once we got that figured out we couldn't believe the length of the traffic jam heading North. At least 15 miles of stopped traffic (including a couple exotics). How long it was going to take those people to get home I can't imagine.

We found the night's hotel without any trouble. The front desk guy gave us (not very accurate) directions to a good restaurant in town which we walked to once we unpacked. A great dinner beside the lake was the perfect end to a very long (and sometimes stressful) day.

The view out my window over Lake Maggiore

The view from the shared 2nd floor porch. Can't complain.
(Link to full-res panorama)

Some tasty Bruschetta to start off dinner