It’s no easy feat to climb six breathtaking giants in the Italian Alps in just four days. If anyone can put the itinerary together, it’s Trip Designer, cyclist, artist and world traveler, Jessica Singerman. Her favorite place she’s been? The Italian Alps. And we can see why. Follow along to see how Jess designed our latest cycling experience, Giants of the Giro, and join us this summer for a truly epic trip. Are you up for the challenge?
How did you put this trip together? Tell us about your design process.
On Day 1, the ride up Torre di Fraele is a more gentle climb, although still challenging. It’s the perfect way to acclimate after traveling to the region and it gives people a chance to get used to their new bikes.
Over the course of the next two days, we climb Stelvio, Mortirolo, and Gavia, some of the most challenging climbs in the world. Stelvio’s iconic hairpin turns have inspired cyclists, skiers, mountaineers, and even artists and poets since the mid-19th century. Passo Stelvio is the highest mountain pass in the Giro d’Italia, and during the Giants of the Giro, we will climb it not once, but twice. We will climb the side from Bormio, veer off through Switzerland just before the summit, and then ride up the 48 hairpins from Prato allo Stelvio before descending back into Bormio.
Passo Stelvio is the highest mountain pass in the Giro d’Italia, and during the Giants of the Giro, we will climb it not once, but twice.
On Day 3, we ride both Mortirolo and Gavia. Lance Armstrong famously said that Mortirolo was the “hardest climb” he had ever ridden, and Gavia brings to mind Andy Hampsten’s grueling 1988 Giro stage win in a blizzard. The stage ended in Bormio, our base for this trip. The reason we ride these two passes on the third day is so that people can make the decision of whether to ride Mortirolo and Gavia, or to stick to Gavia instead. Mortirolo is incredibly steep, so after the two previous days of riding, people will have a good idea of whether to ride it or not.
On the last day, the Bormio 2000 climb is for those guests who want to tick off one last climb before the end of the trip! It’s a short but challenging ride.
What about the Italian Alps is so special?
The landscape is visually stunning, the people are friendly, the riding is second to none, and the food is super tasty. It’s a bicultural region, having been fought over by Austria and Italy, so there’s a lot of history and multiple languages spoken. The region has something for everyone.
What is the “magic moment” of this trip? Is it a specific climb, the gratification of hard work, or maybe the view from the top?
The views from the top of Stelvio are unreal. Looking down and seeing the switchbacks rise up from the valley to the summit is incredibly rewarding and visually breathtaking. Because of the way the road is built, you can stop periodically along the ride from either side of the pass and see the hairpin turns stacked on top of one another.
Another amazing part of the riding here is simply how long the climbs are. There aren’t many places where we can climb for hours. I love the mental part of climbing like this. Watching your breath, finding your cadence; getting into a rhythm is so satisfying. In the midst of this effort we remind ourselves to look around us, and the breadth of the Alpine landscape is stunning. Riding here is a truly spiritual experience.
There aren’t many places where we can climb for hours. I love the mental part of climbing like this. Watching your breath, finding your cadence; getting into a rhythm is so satisfying.
"I don't know what it is, perhaps the breathtaking scenery or the vastness of the Italian Alps as far as the eye can see, but Gavia always leaves me with an indescribable feeling; maybe awe and wonder. It feels so far away from anything and it's hard to not be up there without reflecting on the history of the Pass. From WWI alpine battles between the Italians and Austro-Hungarians to legendary @giroditalia stages (most famously Andy Hampsten's 1988 attack on the climb during a massive blizzard), to mountain lore, old trails that lead to boarded up mountain rifugi, stambecchi (Italian ibex), and even 'la Madonna delle Vette, protettrice dei ciclisti' (patron saint of the cyclists). It's absolutely one of the most beautiful and rugged places that @jasonhardingmt and I get to find ourselves at each week." ?: @sonjaschmidt
Learn more about our Giants of the Giro bike tour.
It’s no wonder how the majestic Italian Alps have inspired Jessica in many of her paintings. Below she shares with us three pieces, all sparking creativity from the giants.
“During the making of these, the Italian Alps landscape was absolutely one of my inspirations.”
Top left: The Things I Can’t Reach 1, oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, 2014
Right: Sweeping Green Blue Air, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 2014
Bottom left: How to Keep Warm, oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, 2016
You can learn more about Jessica’s work on her website.