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Italy at Last

by Tara

Before leaving town officially, we had one very important task to attend to. Velocity sent us complete wheelsets for both bikes and we were left with two perfectly good front wheels in need of a home. Tyler bungied them rather precariously to the back of his bike and we cycled into town hoping we could sell them.

Wheels for Sale

The bike rental agency turned us down so we headed to the local bike/sports shop where we were greeted by its very friendly owner. After hearing our offer, he agreed! Being used to what should be simple tasks taking forever to complete, we were thrilled to have taken care of business so expediently.

As the shop owner checked over our old wheels in his truing stand, he asked us about our trip. When we explained what we were up to and that we had ridden over Julierpass, he was stunned. On our way out he was even more impressed when he tried to pick up my bike and could barely lift it! We rode away two wheels lighter, 80 CHF richer (Tyler says it's not much, but I say it's better than nothing!) and for the first (and last) time in our Swiss travel history, with a healthy budget surplus for the day.

As we began our ride in earnest, I thought that I had lost some muscle during our 10 days in Silvaplana. Tyler reminded me that I ALWAYS think I am weak in the morning before my muscles warm up. He was right, and once I'd gotten back "in the groove" it felt great to be riding again. Before we knew it we were climbing our last mountain pass to Italy!

Snowy Alpine Peaks Snow Fences

For some reason we had both brushed off the ascent, thinking it would be nothing because we were already at 1700m. What we'd expected to be a mere 400 meter climb turned into nearly 700. The long, slow uphill to Berninapass featured a brutal headwind the entire way. Quite a start for our first day back "on the job"!

Tara Climbing Tyler's Setup

It was an exhilarating feeling, sitting at 2,300 meters (higher than Julierpass!) gazing over the very long downhill we'd worked so hard to attain. Even better than looking though, was whizzing down the mountains following switchback after switchback of stunning views!

Passo del Bernina Long Downhill ALPS!

On the way, Tyler set a new speed record (72 kilometers/hour!), weaving by a motorcycle in the process and receiving a huge thumbs up when the rider overtook him shortly after. I descended a little more cautiously, always staying under 55km/h. I was quite pleased with myself though when I coasted by the posted speed limit of 50 at a slightly illegal 52.

Speedy Tyler Tyler Coasting

Finally after loads of beautiful Swiss border scenery, we zipped through customs unnoticed (no one was there!) and found ourselves in Italy. Immediately there were vineyards on the mountainsides, ancient cathedrals with outdoor frescoes, and suddenly everything felt Italian! We stopped at the first grocery store we could find and for a mere 14 euros, we bought enough food to eat like kings for several days. Italy, we love you already.


After packing up our food and hitting the road again, we found ourselves on a gravel path and decided it would be a good time to start looking for a free-camp. Tyler discovered a nice secluded spot by a river and we set up camp after wheeling our bikes along the rocky riverbank and through a brambley wood. Satisfied, we took a dip in the water and then celebrated our entrance into Italy with two delicious frozen pizzas and a bottle of cheap local wine. We can't wait to begin exploring Italy tomorrow!

Old Italian Church

Right before settling in for the night, I thought I was dreaming when I saw a teenage boy carrying his jeans wadded up in one hand, running buck naked along the riverbank past our very hidden free-camp! In a flash the boy was gone from view.