Tracking down hidden gems

It’s dark outside. I’m sitting on a sofa in a cozy living room, wrapped in a blanket like breakfast burrito. My hands cradle giant starbucks mug, topped out with freshly brewed coffee. Mesmerized by its warmth and smell. I love these mornings.

But I didn’t wake up at 5AM just for having the living room for myself. There’s hidden agenda lurking around. And it’s time is coming…

WOW! First sunrays lighted up 2955m peak of Las Trais Fluors overlooking my appartment. I kick my feet up and enjoy this ultra HD movie, as the light strolls lower and lower, calling me out for action.

I grab Herbert bike magazine and start flipping pages. Seeking inspiration.

Possibilities in Engadin are endless. From one-hour backyard rides to multiday hut-to-hut megaloops, there’s always something to explore. Engadin never disappoints. It didn’t during past three months.

Kapow! Goosebumps all over my forearms. Hair standing up. Pupils maxed out. I’m staring at the photo of Lago del Gallo. Still can’t believe I’m allowed to roll in such supernatural wilderness.

Pulling my laptop from the corner, googling details. Messing up a bit with Trailforks dumbplanner, pulling out GPX file with a bit of steam. Uploading it to Garmin Edge, packing coffee, sandwiches and hitting the gas pedal.

Fifty mins drive dropped me at Ofen Pass 2156m. A place that is hard to put into words without making you think I’m on mushrooms. So I pass on it this time. But I gotta tell you… standing here, throwing my leg over toptube and looking down, wide-open grin is unavoidable.

So I took that grin and pointed wheels down a flowy singletrail, spitting me out near Berggasthaus Buffalora. That one is fast! So fast, that it almost spat me out to the side. A couple times. Grin just got wider. Almost cracking my corners, if I didn’t grease them with a lipstick:-]

Naturpak Swizzer - Buffalora

A couple hundred meters from Berggasthaus Buffalora, I cut it left to Fuorcla del Gal. An hour’ísh pusho-pedal climb.

Passed a small shelter with fridge full of fresh, local chocolate milk. You can get a bottle for 3 CHF, look around and guess which alpine cow has filled it. But my pack was full of goodies. Not this time, sorry.

Naturpak Swizzer

Reached Fourcla del Gal [a pass overlooking the lake]. Drank a coffee and switched to descend mode.

Naturpak Swizzer - Passo del Gal

Let’s rock&roll! Wide angulating glavelish singletrail, salted with roots and turns waited for me. Quite easy, fun, yet hard to ride fast due to flat-cornered switchbacks. Grin indicator: 80%.

Got down to the turquoise Lago del Gallo [a part of Lago di Livigno, pinned into narrow canyon beween steep mountainsides of Cima del Serraglio and Cima Paradiso].

Naturpak Swizzer - Lago di Gallo
Naturpak Swizzer - Lago di Gallo
Naturpak Swizzer

Blown away by this beauty. I’m riding the trail with head turned sideways. Stopping every couple hundred meters to snap photos, even though I don’t like snapping photos. Making snack breaks even when I’m not hungry…

Whatever, I’m taking my time. Doing everything I can to make this moment last forever.

Naturpak Swizzer

Stormclouds’re sneaking around. Not sure if they want to intimidate me, or planning full frontal assault. Still ain’t rushing anywhere. Prepared to tackle the worst case scenario with Lindt chocolate and a rain jacket.

Naturpak Swizzer

My stop and go movement’s getting me closer to the “the destination”. That’s what navigation says. But it’s wrong. I don’t ride my bike to get to the point B. That’s called commuting…

For us mountainbikers, journey is the destination. Let’s not forget it.

Naturpak Swizzer

Okay, so I’ve got closer to the end of the route (sounds better). Pointed it down the final descent to Santa Maria. Bit dissapointed by a gravel road, I’ve stopped for a sec. Turned my head left and saw a guided group took a cut. Yeah! Grin indicator back to 90%.

There was a hiking trail criscrossing gravel path here and there. Cause we’re in Graubuenden, every hiketrail is a biketrail [as long as we respect our hyperaware fellow fussgangers].

So ready, set, bust that trail!

Section after section, I’ve made it all the way down to Santa Maria. From here, it’s only 769m vert. and 1:43 pedal back up to my car. Remember it way too well from the last time. But today, I have a joker in my pocket…

photo by Manuel Geisser

As I’m waiting at the parking lot for my motorized riksha to come, stranger walks to me and says: “Nice bike man!”

I zoom at him, on his Transporter, then on his bikerack. YT Capra Pro Race there. Look at his buddy, his Mercedes Viano, YT Jeffsy Pro Race strapped to the rack. We get down to jabber right away.

Ten mins later, I’m on a passenger seat of my newly made friend, enjoying sweatless ride back to my car.

That’s what I mean by being a part of YT Family