|Another epic climb in the record books for us.|
After 7 years of summer cycling trips to Switzerland, you become pretty familiar with all the big epic climbs. In preparation of our 2015 trip, I put some effort in researching big climbs we had not yet done. Thanks to the brilliant work of Will and his site Cycling Challenge, I was able to find an enticing climb that was new to us. Will is friends with our friend, Chris. Anybody that likes to ride with Chris is okay by our standards, so I knew I could trust Will's report 100%. I asked another friend, Howard, about this climb and he said it was a real bugger. That was all I needed to hear. Lago di Narèt was officially on our list for climbs to do in 2015.
We based ourselves in Bignasco, a tiny little town at the bottom of Maggia Valley, the valley we'd ride up en route to the high dam lake Narèt. You have a choice of 2 valleys of which to ride up from Bignasco; Maggia and Bavona. The day we arrived, we rode up through Bavona in order to shake down our rental bikes. It was a beautiful quiet area dotted with ancient stone and wood structures and absent of any electric poles or lines. It turns out that all electric requirements are met by solar power. I would love to explore this area a bit further in the future.
|day before riding up Via Bavona from Bignasco, beautiful wild valley.|
The route for Lago di Narèt is pretty straightforward. You head up the road running alongside the Maggia river and keep going up up up. There were never any confusing intersections (that I recall) and it was always obvious which way to go. Things are pleasant enough for the first 8 miles and then you hit the first area of tight steep switchbacks. It was here I noticed evidence of goat droppings all over the road. Sure enough, there they were on the side watching me with great curiosity. I did see a small little herd ambling across the road, but never did see one of the huge herds that are quite common in the area.
|The goats seemed interested in our activity.|
|switchbacks on top of switchbacks|
|on our way to Mogno|
|Church made from alternating layers of granite and marble with no windows. Only source of light is from the glass roof.|
|The token tunnel|
|approaching the first dam, an impressive sight|
|Feels good to spin along - what a view!|
|And this is where it starts to go UP!|
|Steep with no end in sight|
|Yea, a switchback!|
|you can see how steep this switchback is|
|the road takes a dramatic sweep up to the right|
|crossing over river fed from Lake Lassolo just to our left.|
|scenery is fabulous|
|Making it through the last of the big switchbacks above Lago Superiore before reaching Lago di Narèt. You can barely make out the 2 cyclists in the right side of the picture - gives you an idea of the scale of grandeur!|
There it is, you see the dam up ahead. The road dips and skirts by Lake Scuro before climbing again for one last switchback up to the dam. As we flew down that little downhill, I used every bit of momentum to carry me up to the last of the 6,000+ feet we'd just ascended.
|There's the dam! Lago di Narèt is just on the other side!|
|The last switchback, you're at the top!|
|23 miles later we're at the top of the dam!|
|Road around the lake leads to another small lake and hiking trails.|
|Riding across other side of the dam|
|Starting the descent|
We had made a day of the ride, so by now we were a bit hungry. Remembering the food truck at Fontanalba, we were thrilled to see it was still open as we came past the dam at Lake Sambuco. We each gobbled down a panini and an ice cream treat - Pralinato - Mmmm, my favorite! The sun felt so good that we couldn't resist having a nice rest. It was the perfect spot for it.
|Great spot for taking a break|