Postalesio | DH MTB | Slalom alle Piramidi

Not for the faint-hearted, this is a high-octane, all-thriller, no-filler mountain bike ride for those who dare. Bit of a climb up from Postalesio to Pra Lone but from there you’ve got so many potential descents. Take the brand new one from Santi down to the Piramidi, or from Lone to Ca’moroni, then from Ca’moroni to Postalesio you’ve got a choice between three alternative routes. Here’s the latest and most current offerings, curated into one ride. Apologies for the off-grid sections – at the time of writing (December 2018), the trails are in perfect order so you shouldn’t have a problem with navigation.

In any doubt, or if you just want local guides to join you, then we’d definitely suggesting hitting up 360 Valtellina Bike. Lovely crew that are always keen to ride and give guidance.

This ride starts from the church/school carpark in Berbenno, giving you a bit of a warm-up towards Postalesio on some mellow tracks.

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Sondrio | Road 50 km | The definitive Valtellina road ride – vineyards, orchards, tiny roads.

In winter it’s hard to know which roads are still passable by bike – is that stretch of tarmac getting any sunshine at all? A safe bet is to keep high on the south-facing slopes. That’s exactly what this sublime route does. A breath-taking excursion into Valtellina’s wine territory. We think it is unrivalled!

You’ll head eastwards up the valley along the main road for a short stretch – it’s very quiet though. After a few minutes of pedalling you’ll find yourself on back roads that careen along the bottom of the valley, taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the orchards to Chiuro. Once you reach Chiuro, there’s the beautiful Castionetto climb that takes you up to the Panoramica. That road, the Via Panoramica, is something else entirely. Unbeatable views, fairly quiet on the traffic front, it’s a real pleasure to cruise along. This route doesn’t follow it for long though; you’ll be spewed out onto back roads that bypass the bigger villages and go all-in for authenticity. Expect little archways, ancient buildings and a whole lot of character through the vineyards.

This route starts and finishes at Sondrio train station, which even in the winter should get a fair amount of sun.


Have a good one!

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Ponte in Valtellina | Run 13km | Rifugio ramble up high

This route is very close to hearts of runners from Lombardy as the rifugio ADM (Amici delle Montagne) used to be the summer training base for many of the region's top runners. They'd train twice a day, chop wood and clear trails. Pretty idyllic way to spend your summer and very different from pounding the track at St Moritz, where the mountains just make a nice backdrop. Here, the mountains are truly 'lived'.

 

Great route, it goes high, breaks the treeline and offers beautiful views. 

Not really doable in winter. Unless it's one of those winters with very little snow. 

Basso Valtellina | MTB/Gravel 64km | Crank up the bass in the basso valley

So many variations are possible with this route, and it's always an option to shorten the climbs. There's an extra one above Talamona, just 'cos. No pressure to ride it and you have to come down the same road anyway – it just gives you another perspective on the valley. 

Once you've crossed the valley floor and started climbing up towards Cino and Civo, there are countless cement, cobbled and gravel diversions that bypass the road. Take as many or as few of these are you feel like – they tend to be significantly steeper than the road. The real jewel in the crown of this route is the high altitude gravel track that traverses the south-facing mountain slopes. Depending on your bike handling skills, you could get away with a sturdy gravel bike here. Best ridden in late spring, summer and early autumn.

 

Buglio | Gravel 26km | Lost lanes and adventurous climbs

A solid route of tiny tracks, disused and half-finished gravel roads, some cute villages and views galore. Starting and finishing at Sesterzio. 

Year-round but watch out for the descent down from the reservoir at Lotto as shady tree-covered corners could be a bit icy in winter. 

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Morbegno | Run 17km | Racing shoes on in Rasura

Starting up the valley into Val Gerola, this is a fine example of fast running, Valtellina style. A  mixed offering of terrain, this is a run that twists and turns on the mountainside with a host of treasures that reveal the centuries of life that has gone on in this valley. 

Spring, summer, autumn. 

Campo Moro | Run 20km | Digging the diga

A bit techy and arguably at altitude so you really want to pick your day to do this route. It's one of the blow-your-mind loops with beautiful trails, boulders, ridges and the crystal clear water of the reservoir, hence the name 'diga' which is Italian for dam. 

A choice of rifugios up here for a post-run cake and cola.

Summer only. Works in both directions. 

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Sondrio/Valmalenco | MTB / Gravel 54km | Vert metres for Valmalenco

Riding out of Sondrio on the Sentiero Rusca isn't the most inspiration start to a mountain bike ride so some might argue that you don't really need a mtb for this route. However, there are trail diversions galore once you've got those vertical metres in your legs in Valmalenco. 

Summer and early autumn only. 

Chiuro | Road 58km | A for adventure, B for b-roads, C for Chiuro

Loose description of 'road', this one wouldn't be averse to somewhat extra grip on certain roads on the northside of the valley. The first half is almost totally traffic-free until you reach the main pass road down from Aprica. In summer this gets a little busy so just watch out for motorbikes careening their way up the pass, in a mad dash to overtake lorries. It's not great but it'll whizz by. Then you're back onto small roads. You have to rejoin the main road super briefly before you start the climb to Teglio, but it isn't a dealbreaker, we promise. 

A hilly route, but unfortunately off the cards in winter. All of the climbs will be worthwhile. 

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Val Viola | Run 7km | A sprightly rifugio ramble

For anyone sleeping over at Val Viola's Rifugio Federico in Dosde, this route is an absolute must. A pre-breakfast dawn raid, a recreational hike for a jump in the lake on really hot days or a post-hike gentle cool-down jog, this 7km takes you through the most breathtaking scenery of the valley. 

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Val Viola | Run 43km | A very special hut-to-hut run

Here's a particularly mind-blowing route that starts in Val Grosina, just above Grosio. From there, a number of tracks and trails head up the valley towards Rifugio Eita. (There's also a road with restricted access but the trails on the righthand side of the road are much more interesting). From Eita, continue in the same direction and run and over Passo Verva along a gravel track. Drop down the other side and you're into Val Viola. Swing left, follow the single track and keep going until Rifugio Federica in Dosde.

Tip: sleep here and carry on the next day. 

Once you've regained your energy at the rifugio, head up towards Passo Dosde at 2,800 metres. It's pretty amazing. A slightly techy descent to a lake (the deepest in the Alps), before the downhill gets super runnable towards Malghera. This is where you might start meeting other hikers, but you'll be going to fast back to your parked car at Fusine that you won't notice. A great way to round off a hut-to-hut. 
 

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Morbegno | MTB 10.5km down | An uplift day

Get in touch with the guys who run 360 Valtellina bike and arrange an uplift day. Not only will they be stoked to share Basso Valtellina's sickest and most gnarly descents, they're also a great laugh.

Here'a an jaw-shaking, adrenaline-inducing major descent off the Passo San Marco. Best to have a guide if you're not sure about the terrain. Steep and slippery. 

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Mortirolo | Road 137km | A more mellow approach

From Sondrio you'll first ride the Passo Aprica before a long, swooping descent to Edolo. From here it ramps up gentle to Monno before a steep climb under a canopy of trees takes you up towards the Passo Mortirolo. You'll ride a few kilometres along the top before hitting the pass sign and the top of the much steeper side. Start going down that descent but take a right turn towards Grosio. Safer and a lot less steep, this narrow downhill pops you out on the far side of Grosio. From here, follow the small roads or even the Sentiero bike path back towards Tirano and Sondrio. 

The Mortirolo doesn't usually open until late May/early June.

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Sondrio | Gravel 41km | Life lessons in Val Cervia

The road up from Cedrasco is steep, so perhaps get all your conversations out of the way before embarking on the suggested first hour of this ride. It levels off after a while and there's beautiful, wide open scenery with meadows and high, high, high mountains on the horizon. If you bring a bike lock (not that you'll need it), you can do a ciclo-Alp adventure and keep running once the two wheels have taken you as far as you can go on the gravel. 


Val Cervia is often over-looked but that's what is so special as you'll barely see a soul. Just marmots and deer. Exactly how it should be, 

 

For the descent I'd nip off to the right when you see a bumpy track. It'll add some more excitement to your ride. 

 

Summer only.

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Chiuro | Gravel 67km | Groading up the mid-valley

Set aside a good few hours for this exploratory gravel ride around the valley. Expect the unexpected: cute villages, snaking singletrack, rasping-breath-inducing cobbled climbs, and more. We expect a lot of highlights on this route. Don't let yourself be navigated though – this is one where you should take any turning that takes your fancy.

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Mello | Run 14km | A lesson is finding bivouacs and descending over boulders

A spectacular route that starts at a holiday park-esque pasture that takes you by surprise. Cross the meadow, pine needle-strewn trails, a long but gentle gravel climb that escalates into sublime trails and an opportune bivouac. The descent is trickier – especially if there are still remnants of snow – but it's a superb mountain run and displays the greatest of the Basso valley. 

A route reserved for late spring, summer and early autumn. 

Castione | Run 11km | The partisans' last stand

Setting off from Postalesio means you'll get a few kilometres of flatter running to warm your legs up ready for the climb. It's a tough one, but super rewarding when you realise that you're exploring rarely-seen territory, even for the locals. Other than us, the only runner you might see here will be a former international boxer and his dog. 

The descent starts a little bit slip-and-slidy, but opens up into an incredibly runnable gravel track.