See the section for Italy and Austria of the Trento Bike Pages.

St. Leonard - Passo Rombo (Timmelsjoch) - Obergurgl back and forward

26 July 1996 from 09:00 to 15:30
Km 90

Contributed by Marco Buffa in October 1996


Timmelsjochstrasse, like Splugenpass and Grand St. Bernard, is another example (maybe the most evident) that when an Alpine route crosses two nations the route conditions change a lot once you crossed the border: here italian side is a tight route full of no lighted tunnels and more while in Austria you ride along a wide safe route (cars have to pay toll here e) where you reach high speed.

From St. Leonard, once you crossed the route to Jaufenpass, there is a short descent but also a huge sign saying :

(translation: riding bicycles forbidden from Km 8 to km 29") including the well known road sign made up of a white circle, red-borded, with a black bicycle in the middle of it. Why is riding forbidden ? Now I remember: during a stage of 1989 Giro d'Italia some accidents occur passing through the tunnels no lighted at all along this route. So the tunnels are the problem: but as the "forbidden people on foot" sign is absent I decide that in danger situation I'll get off the bicycle and go on on foot. After the sign mentioned above, the ascent is not very steep and you ride in shadow towards the km. 8 ...

When in Moso you leave the route taking into the village (and into the sun) and with a right hairpin the slope increases a lot (till hear 7 km. 32 min. 400 mt. of devilement).

The ascent is very demanding and made up of many bends and I fear that after km 8 (by the way I meet another "forbidden bicycle" sign) I could find a police car checking no bicycles on the way (maybe a ridiculous thought) .

After the last left hairpin a very difficult stretch, luckily very short (50 mt.), with high gradient and then ... a queue. I have to stop and then quietly start overtaking carefully the cars: they're building a new tunnel and a caterpillar is in the middle of the route. Man at work allow me to pass (the cars no) and just after the tunnel another "forbidden bicycle" sign: the ascent is always demanding with more straight stretches. Once I passed another "f.b." sign a very thrilling moment: police are on the other side of the route but luckily we ignore each other. The sun is now on the street which has become flat (as well there 's a bit of descent as I'm going more fast than usual) and this condition lasts for some km. so that my average speed increases although I stop for a break at a fountain on the left near a restaurant (it's the last you meet before the top: ignore the following on the right unless you like water iron-taste). On the left you see the final developement of the route very scenic and very steep (till here: 20 km. 95 min. 1100 mt of devilement)

Still a short descent stretch and then on the left an hairpin bend introducing the most demanding part of the ascent but also the most rewarding : at first 2 km. almost straight, then a first set of hairpin bend followed by a little tunnel (always precedeed by the "f.b." sign) and another set of hairpin bend more demanding than the previous. At this point the slope decreases and you meet a long flat tunnel (555 mt.) : it's a pleasure to find out that the route is almost flat and to see the sign "Austria Km 1". Just a stretch a bit steeper and then the pass (till here: 30 km. 155 min. 1780 mt. of devilement) that turns to be less rewarding than expected as it's enclosed between two high banks.

Descent is on a wide route that allows you to increase speed: after 4 Km there's an unexpected stretch in ascent and what a luck to use the final part of the descent as run up. After a left bend I think the ascent part is ended but I'm wrong and I have to face another demanding km. before the final descent in Otztal: on the left there's the route to Obergurgl in ascent but no difficult at all (till here : 45 km. 200 min. 2000 mt. of devilement).

Obergurgl is described as surrounded by glaciers but there's no trace at all (may be in winter season) and I'm also disappointed by the chaos and no evidence of drinking fountains (I find out a little one in a tight no paved street at the end of the village). After a quick meal it's time to get back so here I am again on the way to Timmelsjoch: this time the descent stretch, previously described in the other way, is welcome both to rest after the four demanding initial km and to face (at least at first) in high speed to the last four km. quite difficult (till here: 60 km. 300 min. 2700 mt. of devilement). Descent to St. Leonard is very easy and I can take all the time for some pictures: I wonder when I'll be back here again and above all with such wonderful weather conditions. (Total: 90 km. 390 min. 2800 mt. of devilement)

Final note about equipment and more

The tunnels although are all not lighted are not so dark as well: I think they're more dangerous in descent. I wore a piece of cloth with a reflecting stripe, triangle shaped, and it worked well: the darkest tunnel is the last (555 mt.) and during the descent I stopped twice into it for safety region.

To end I do recommend this route specially from Italy and specially if you search for a demanding way to get into Austria: otherwise Reschenpass and Brennerpass are preferable.