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Splugen Pass: Switzerland to Italy


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Here's the story of our Splugen Pass ride. (I can't get the accents to work on this PC, sorry for that).


The Splugen Pass connects the Swiss town of Splugen with the Italian town of Montespluga..... it used to be an important way over the Alps, but since the San Berdnadino tunnel was blown through the mountains, only tourists seem to find the way up and over.


I had seen pictures of a weird tussle of hairpins in magazines and books, and never really knew where the picture was taken. Until I discovered this Summer reading my passes book, that it was the Splugen. Since I was planning an alternate route over to the Dolomites, taking through Switzerland, the Splugen seemed an interesting option.


And 'interesting' it was. My Mapsource software gave an unexpected 'twist' to the route... causing us ultimately to drop the bike in a way too tight hairpin!


Here's us entering the town of Splugen, at the bottom of the mountain that divides the Rhine water and the Po water to flow north and south !








Immediate after leaving the small Swiss village (ain't it beautifully neat and green!!??) the road starts winding up with good asphalt and good curves.....








After some initial rather straight parts and only a few scattered hairpins, all of a sudden the road goes wild! I think there are some 12 or 14 hairpins right after another, and all pretty tight !!


Nina had her hands full photographing, as I could not safely stop!





After making this photo she confided that she did NOT really like me moving over to the left for each hairpin...... but without making room that way you can hardly round them !





THIS is our version of the photo that can be found in various books and internet sites.

Crazy stuff !!!





After that rollercoaster part, the road winds up with some more scattered hairpins and bends, climbing rapdly all the time.

Fortunately we were 'out of season' and there wasn't a lot of traffic to hinder us.





They must have had guests that night... bed linen hanging from the windows !





We made it to the summit... and so did some other riders !


We did not stop because Nina ordered me to continue.. becasue of the cold!





Now that was the Swiss side..... here comes Italy, a very different story. For one, there are barriers.

For two, they are all extremely rusty....




Apart from that, the pass continues much in the same way as on the north side....





There's an artificial lake there too.. looks cold, doesn't it? It was !!




The Italian village looks much more rugged and deserted than the Swiss sister.....





Looking back to where we came from. Nina does weird things behind my back apparently....




There's a bit of a rock in the middle, necessitating TWO dams to be built




Passed the dam and are now looking up at it.. hope it holds for a little while longer !




Now this is where the hairpins started changing. Instead of being nicely rounded AND extended outwards a bit, they just sort of had a knack ..... nice for cars, not for bikes!






This was a LARGE one !!!!





And then it suddenly went ALL WRONG.... fast.

I think this is the little village where our Zumo sent us the wrong way.


Wrong in the sense of sending us down the OLD pass road, which turned out to be EXTREMELY narrow and difficult when riding 2-up on a heavy BMW, even for an experienced mountain goat.... no offense meant to yours truly.. *cough*





I found this picture on the Net... we didn't have time to make pictures.I was trying to round a series of ridiculous tight hairpins, Nina was busy holding on to me....... and at one point not long after THAT picture, I dropped the bike in a hairpin....

The Italian Fiat driver that sort of 'caused' it (although it was my fault; see the BMWST Ride Well forum) helped us pick it up and told us about 'another road' I should have taken.

At the time I didn't know what he meant, thinking this was the ONLY road.


It wasn't.... apparently there's a newer road much lower in the valley with a lot less hairpins and more room.




There was even an hairpin inside the tunnel there !





This photo was taken after we reached the valley floor and a much broader road again. We stopped and had some nice cappucino's right after that......




In Italy now... next was getting back to Switzerland.... more later!


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Good to see you two weren't hurt in the fall. As always, beautiful pics.


I need to figure out a way to have the military station me in Europe instead of just teasing me by having me pass through on my way to other parts of the world.



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Nina definitely needs training on getting the "priority" pictures though.


Photos don't do those turns justice. We have a few hereabouts and I can not convey the difficulty in picture. I've finally learned to stay on my side of the road for them, but it took some time. Now 1st gear.


Glad you are both well after. Assume the bike is well as well.

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They must have had guests that night... bed linen hanging from the windows !




That picture reminds me of when I was growing up in Helmstedt Germany. This was a common site...every morning...our feather comforters hanging outside my Oma's apartment.


Nice pictures as always.


Mike O

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François, in June I was on the same road as you and especially in the hairpins just out of Chiavenna it was ugly. Lots of high revving and crossing of fingers, going up being worse for me. I still use paper maps a lot and that was the only road on it so Zumo musta done you wrong. If you went on via St. Moritz, you hit some other gnarly turns but at least the surface is better. Still, beats four lane concrete! :grin:

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Nice n Easy Rider


Thanks for the great pics and interesting tale. Sorry about the drop but glad you're both OK. The road must get even more 'interesting' in bad weather. Look forward to hearing how you got back. :)

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Yup, went on to St. Moritz and then over the Bernina to Italy again.

Also did the Furka and the Maloja and a few smaller ones on those two days riding south......


I had a paper map too (special for riders, but not very detailed) and it too didn't show the 'new' road. I found it on Mapsource afterwards and have NO idea why Mapsource does what it does in Italy.... there must be an issue with road priority coding on many roads in that area. Probably a Navteq issue and I will write them.

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Heheh... we rode back via the Italia and French highway system, braving a Force 8 'Mistral' gale most of the way.


But before that we did a LOT of other passes and roads..... all duly noted and registered.. will report more once we get back home.

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