It’s out third full day up in Livigno, and after Imogen and I went our different ways yesterday, we regrouped for one of the other highly popular activities in Livigno – shopping! It wasn’t a mega spending spree, but we did both buy some headbands, so we could feel the part in the high mountains.
After a night of rösti, lentils and tomatoes, some broccoli and plenty of chocolate and wine from the Valtellina it was time for bed, as we really wanted to climb up above the town today to Carosello 3000. Of course, being in a small apartment building you can be at the mercy of your neighbours. While we’re almost completely surrounded by World Cup XCO racers there is a DH crew too, and they certainly weren’t partying, but chairs scraping on slate floors in a building with only hard surfaces does echo. A lot.
That said, early starts aren’t really that good in Livigno at the end of summer (or start of Autumn). And with some rain overnight, it was actually better rolling out around 9:30am after a chat with some of our neighbours and the apartment owner.
Today’s route in Livigno
While it was cloudy, we convinced ourselves that clouds don’t have to mean bad weather (which is hard for sun lovers to accept) and we rode to the bike path to make our way to the Val Fedeira. If you have raced the Swiss National Park Bike Marathon, this is what you head up before the daunting Chaschauna.
Imogen had some 20 minute efforts to do, so I yoyo’ed off the back for the majority of the way up the valley, where the gradient is normal. But at one point, the farm road turns into a ski road and turns a sharp left, becoming loose, and reaching 30% at points.
It is painfully steep, the sort of place where a 1x drivetrain feels like a stupid idea. Infact last time I came up I was on 2×10, and I think I was slightly faster.
With a few sections of walking, a few hypoxic pauses, some swearing, and a lot of sweating through undershirts, arm and legwarmers – we both made it to the top. And soon enough one of our neighbours, a cheerful Cherie Redecker, joined us too.
It’s barren up the top. Just rock, a small lake, and ski lifts. We were about where the clouds were but of course with wind changes sometimes it looked like we were about to be covered, and other times we had clear views across and over Trepalla and beyond.
This wasn’t the final goal though, I wanted to head along a little further, to the Mont da li Resa. What started as a ski road slog turned into bench cut singletrack with sometimes more, and sometimes less exposure. Livigno was about 1000m vertical below us, and at times that seemed highly evident.
We made it to the end, to the stone refuge buried into the mountain, with an amazing view down the valley.
The descent back was a blast – it wasn’t very steep back to the ski stations but it was just perfect to roll and pump through. Once at the ski station it was a quesion of what flow trail to take down. Imogen doesn’t do so well in the cold, and neither do I really, but she was pretty frozen and we hit Bikers United, a blue trail. Save for some cow traffic, it was a fairly typical flow trail, it just had about 900m of vertical to lose.
At the mid-station I had hoped to move onto a panorama trail, but Imogen still couldn’t feel her arms or hands, so we went down the Blueberry Trail, which was a little tighter than the previous one, and a whole lot of fun.
While doing these trails on our Norco Sight trail bikes would be a blast, nothing is really too gnarly on these flow trails, and our 100mm XC bikes with droppers are just fine. I’m sure with a little more travel, a little less head angle, some more tyre grip and bigger brakes the trails would feel totally different!
We finished onto the Panorama Trail above Livigno, and at about the 3rd small climb on it Imogen disappeared, following a farm road straight down. We were heading to what has become our favourite restaurant, La Rusticana, in the lower part of Livigno. We met there, ordered minestrone, pizzoccheri and mineral water, before the ride home.
In all we barely rode 40km, and it felt like an epic day out. Years ago I would absolutely flog myself on rides here. 70-110km tended to be the favoured distances. Did it do me any good? I’m not sure. I have a pretty handy base these days, but I probably should have trained smarter then. The flip side of that is that I wouldn’t want to lose the experiences I had. I’ve spent so much time on my bike in the high mountains here, and it’s still not enough. I wouldn’t want to be without any of the memories I have – even the bad ones.
Tomorrow is meant to be bad weather, but then so was today. I suspect Imogen will be doing efforts, and maybe I’ll attack a long ride. Summer is over but if the sun is shining, there’s still time to make hay.