Here’s two absolutely amazing routes from Mary Wilke, taking in this beautiful area of the Alps, close to the border between Italy and Switzerland,and with epic views of lakes and mountains. If you’re looking for a great weekend riding in the Alps, then this excursion could be the ideal mini vacation for epic bikes rides.
Checking out the weather forecast for the weekend – Rain, wind and temperatures around 10 degrees from Friday until Sunday, really no sign of spring. But it must be possible, to find some spring somewhere in Europe! He who seeks, will find it, sun and lovely spring temperatures on the south side of the alps! So me and Christian don’t need long time to think about, what to do: We‘ve booked a hotel room and on Friday afternoon, we started our trip to Ticino in Switzerland.
Our trip leads us to the wonderful Lago Maggiore, where I’d already spent some unforgettable days on my bike. A real sunny-weather hotspot with many beautiful climbs in a mediterrean landscape between palms and blooming flora.
After crossing the 18 km long St. Gotthard road tunnel the weather really changed from a grey sky and rain on the north side to blue sky and sunshine on the south side – Jackpot! Just a few more kilometers direction south and we reached our destination Locarno as our starting point for the planned trips.
With good mood and full of anticipation we prepared our bikes, filled your jerseys with some bars and after putting on helmets and shoes, we started our trip – Short-Short while it was getting already warmer and warmer. After a few kilometers the climb up to Malesco started, the peaceful road slightly ascended along the Centovalli with its torrent Melezza. The sun provided us with vitamine D and we can’t get enough of the beauty of the snowcovered summits around us. We’ve crossed the impressive Ponte della Vellascia, the Madonna del Sangue church in Re until we reached the top of Piano di Sali after crossing Malesco.
We enjoyed a great descent through wild nature on small roads along the mountain – Not much space for oncoming traffic so the descending inceased attention. But after all we’ve enjoyed the long and winding ride down to Cannobio. Unfortunately it was not possible to continued our trip as planned because of a hard traffic accident on the road along the lake, which is the only route to Cannero, where our next climb up to Piancavallo should begun.
So we changed our plan, listened to our tummies and decided to take a break by the lake to enjoy some delicious Italian ham and cheese with one or two good coffees and thought about alternatives to continue our cycling day – One climb is definitely not enough! And suddenly I remembered the old Ponte dei Salti in the Valle Verzasca above Locarno, which would be always worth a visit with its great and impressive dam!
No sooner said than done, we continued to exploit the last sunny hours of this great day. And while the sun began to set, we finally reached Lavertezzo and the ancient stone-bridge with its typical two arches under which the crystal clear mountain water flowed through. Also, on Sunday the sun offered us a sunny spring day – We’d planned the ascent up to Alpe di Neggia,thereafter the ascent to Arosio and crossing the Monte Ceneri to get back home to Locarno afterwards.
On our way up to Alpe di Neggia we had to master 12 kilometers with an average gradient of 9,5 %. Again and again we got a breathtaking view down to the lake while passing blooming Magnolia trees and palms. Definitely, spring has already arrived here in the south! With every serpentine, the vegetation changed into a deciduous and coniferous forest, until we even had some snow around us on 1100 m above sea level.
After the descent, there was not much time to relax. Already after some kilometers along the lake, we started the climb in Colmegno up direction Arosio, nearly 28 kilometers, more or less steep road and with every kilometer my legs got heavier and heavier. Christian himself was in best condition while doing one interval after the other, meanwhile I was happy, that I kept on breathing 😉 To prevent a imminent bonk, we decided to take a sandwich-break in the midday sun to handle the last meters in altitude.
After a damn steep descent over 23 serpentines down to Greavesano, I was definitely done and tried to fuel-up with good old chocolate bars and coke to survive to last elevation up to Monte Ceneri. But the long, straight and slightly ascending road with strong headwind on it seemed never to end. Fortunately I had someone with me who was still apperently full of energy, so I tried to hide from the wind as good as possible and finally, we arrived on top of that last ascent of this trip.
For sure, such a wonderful weekend needs a fitting way to be rounded off. So we didn’t get stressed by the travelers returning home through the south portal of the St. Gotthard road tunnel and the arising traffic jam and decided to enjoy some Latte Macchiatos to review two amazing days on our bikes. The warm evening sun was still shining onto our faces, the lake in front of us was glistening and the summits of the mountains were illuminated by the last golden light of the day.
Viva la vita 😉