<center><i>Monika Sattler is an adventure and gravel cyclist, cycling record holder, author and speaker.<i/></center>

The Toughest Stage: <p>Six Day Gravel Transalp</p>

This summer I had the opportunity to ride with my gravel bike from Graun to Riva del Garda via the most stunning scenery.

It started in the small, beautiful Italian town, Graun, which is located at the Reschensee. The first stage involved crossing first to the Austrian border and then to Switzerland via beautiful gravel roads and quiet paths to finish the first stage in Scuol where the fourth official Swiss language, romansh, is spoken. The next stage led via moon-like landscape and high gravel mountain passes to Livigno. This is definitely the toughest stage of all as it collects a lot of elevation gain on the way.


Monika Sattler Gravia Pass

Monika Sattler Gravel Biking 2

But every meter is worth the effort. Livigno is a beautiful ski resort with a cool scene so for those who still have a bit energy in them, I would suggest a visit to the center of the village. As Livigno lies at 1816 m, it is quite chilly here in the evenings and mornings. My Santini Alpha Trail jacket was the perfect way to stay warm.

The next day went via the Passo Foscagno and Passo d`Eira to a beautiful gravel pass that came out at Laghi di Cancano. Whoever loves switchbacks, this is your place! Also, the dam across the lake was stunning and the following gravel trail that seemed isolated from civilization was one of my favorite parts. This path led me to the direction of Bormio but before entering the town the route turns left back onto gravel until the destination of the day: Santa Caterina.

Santa Caterina is located on the way up to Gavia pass, a beautiful pass that entailed the first part of day 4. I would recommend avoid riding this pass on the weekend as motorcycles enjoy this climb just as much. Once on top of the climb, the coffee at the restaurant was just what I needed. Then, an amazing descent followed but it was impossible to go fast as I literally stopped on every corner to take a picture. Too beautiful not to let it soak in. Back down in the valley, another climb headed up Passo Tonale to a chocolate store that has chocolate running down a wall inside the store. Yummy! After a sweet treat, a sweet gravel downhill gravel section followed to my day's end destination in Mezzano.

For the entire trip, I have been riding with my Santini shorts and Santini Delta Kinetic jersey. This jersey is perfect for the summer as it keeps the skin cool and takes all the moisture away, so the jersey never sticks to my skin. My shorts were just perfect. All the problems one could think of riding in the sweaty heat never occurred.


Monika’s Packing List:

Delta Kinetic Jersey
Gravel Delta T Shirt
Alpha Trail Jacket
Grettir Running Tights
Vega Multi Arm Leg Warmers

The next day was another beautiful ride that started with a long gravel section through the forest. The beginning was so steep that I lost the traction of my tires. But it got shallower the higher I was. At the top was a touristic ski resort that had just that coffee I needed. After the proper caffeination, I followed first a paved road, then a gravel road along that quickly became an unrideable single trail.

Monika Sattler Hike a Bike 2

Hike-a-bike is part of the game. Luckily, it wasn’t that long, and I was quickly back on my bike to head up the final climb of the day. It weaved itself through the forest until it ended up at a mountain lake. It was beautiful but I also knew what is ahead of me: Another 200 m of elevation gain by foot. The next section was so steep and rocky - it was impossible to ride. But it was worth pushing it up because the top offered an incredible 360° view of the mountains. Although there were a few hikers around, it still felt so far away from civilization. Another treat was the 16 km downhill to the stage's destination: Ponte Arche.

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The last days, I had been eating at the restaurant, but today I went into the supermarket and bought my food and had a hotel-picknick. I didn’t mind at all as it meant I could just relax in my room. My post-ride clothing consisted of a Santini Gravel T-Shirt and the 66°N Grettir Running tights, which are super light to carry, easy to wash and perfect to wear on occasions like a supermarket stroll.

The time flew quickly because the next day was already the final stage to Riva del Garda. But although this day was shorter and with less elevation gain, it didn’t miss its beauty along a cliff wall, across a moon-like landscape and past turquoise lakes to reach Lake Garda.

These were 6 days full of adventure, discovery while staying off busy roads. It was the perfect time to take the time off the daily hustle and make for a great energy reset.

Monika Sattler Mountains
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About Monika Sattler:

Bio Photo 2

Monika Sattler is an adventure and gravel cyclist, cycling record holder, author and speaker. She is the first woman who rode the 3000km Vuelta a Espana at the same day as the professionals, just hours beforehand. This “Vuelta Project” received international media attention. Read more here.

Monika has won many gravel races incl. the 500km Trans Iowa and the 300km DAMn and has a record cycling across the 330km Canadian providence Manitoba in 30 hours.

She uses her experience and knowledge achieving the seemingly impossible to help especially women to gain self-confidence, courage and resilience to break barriers and push their limits.

She speaks frequently at conferences including Eurobike and VELOBerlin and is the author of the book “Unleashing your RAD potential”. She is currently writing a gravel cycling guide that will be published with Delius Klasing (big sport editorial house in Germany) in Spring 2023.

Photography ©Gavin Kaps @ospreyimagery


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