Cycling in Chiavenna - Splugen Pass (2113 m), Maloja Pass (1815 m) & Lake Como

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Tuesday 21 August 2018

Cycling in Chiavenna - Splugen Pass (2113 m), Maloja Pass (1815 m) & Lake Como

We've cycled some amazing roads this year, but after dipping into Italy and tackling the 30 km Splugen Pass (Passo del Spluga) from Chiavenna, I think we may have found the most difficult ride we've tackled yet. With an average gradient of 'only' 5.9% I have to admit that although I was expecting this to be a long one I didn't think it would be 'that' hard. After all, we'd already done some 23-24 km climbs this summer. Turns out I was wrong. Very wrong.

As per usual, the average gradient hid the real nature of the climb, with a a good 7 km of flat portions and even a little downhill built into the 5.9% average. Therefore, not only was this a very long (3 hour) climb, it also involved a chunky 8 km section in the middle with gradients consistently tickling 9% on roads so thin and twisting that cars could barely manage the hairpins. It also didn't help that the temperature in the valley was almost 40 degrees, so even at 2000 metres altitude it was still very hot.

Not that I'm complaining I hasten to add. In terms of cycling wonderment, this was a magnificent and unique climb. That old road section I just mentioned was like nothing we've ever cycled before and I'm very glad we did it (even though we descended the larger road signposted motorhome friendly). The only real negative was that we did the ride on the weekend and some of the cars were worryingly eager to get past us, to the point there wing mirrors tapped me on the bum.

A few days later Esther then tackled the even longer 32 km ascent from Chiavenna to the top of the Maloja Pass, a 4.7% average gradient that is a little more consistent, but still a chunky long way!

Then, to top it all off, we even squeezed in a 60 km round trip along the valley floor from Chiavenna to the shores of Lake Como and back.

Enjoy the pictures.

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