It was everything I hoped for… and tractors!
I am sure I have never seen so many bikes and so many tractors together in one place. What a treat! There were hundreds at the top – what time did they leave to be there already? – and hundreds more on the way. One tractor blew up only three switchbacks from the top and more were being towed up by their more reliable friends. Lower on the pass, the tractors were well aware of their status as moving chicanes and did their best to stay out of the way, but at times, with the bicyclists and cars and other motos, it was a challenge to keep moving. Nearing the top it was stop and go. The weather was perfect and everyone kept a positive outlook. Even the ambulance crews were cheering on the older and slower tractors and their crews.
Passo Gavia was my favorite. The road going up and down was one lane for much of the way and I was happy to let the excited Boxster driver and his mate go past me and help open the way ahead. In twenty minutes he got ten car lengths on me. The road going up was pretty ratty in places and the snow banks were sliding out over the road making it barely one lane in places. I was fortunate to not pass a single car going in either direction on the way up. Coming down, the road was in excellent condition but even more narrow and the Boxster had to back up two different times to allow traffic to move. When it did move, it was a very fun ride.
Passo del Tonale was the least exciting of the bunch. I have done it before and the road isn’t all that exciting. It is a short distance to the top from the west and going down on the east side is one town after another. It gets a little rhythm in places but not often enough.
Brezer Joch is more of the top of a hill between two apple orchards. It reminded me of riding the hills above Wenatchee. When I got to the top and parked by the sign I realized the trials bike leaning against the logs was running. By the time I had gotten off my bike and removed my helmet the young rider came out from behind the logs. I’m sure he was surprised to see me. He hopped on and rode off up the dirt road. By the time I had taken my pictures and got my helmet on he came back and headed down the road. On the back tire, of course.
By far the best riding was passo Palade. It had a great flow going up and coming down and the views on the north side heading toward Moreno are unmatched. It was a delight to ride. Also, I was passed by several riders at serious speed. Isle of Mann speed, it seemed to me. Yowser!
I filled the tank twice and added 225 miles to the odometer. That took me 8 hours. I can’t think when I have spent so much time in second gear.
So 8 passes in two days, about 365 miles total. This is a fine place to be on a motorcycle. Watch those mirrors!