The Old Gavia Road is a short section of the famous climb to the Passo di Gavia. It’s 500m long and is an old road near the abyss. It’s now quite washed out with large stones and in places where the railing was missing it had been replaced with strings. The road is certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. Despite the fact that there is a driving ban, the barriers on both sides have disappeared.
Located in the Lombardy region, in Italy, the old road runs along one of the most famous tunnels in the Alps, on the south side of the pass. Located 3 kms from top is truly terrifying. Dark, steep, gravelly, scary. The tunnel is long and very dark. The tunnel is unlit and essentially pitch black inside. The darkness is disorienting, and the tunnel is pitched at a 9% grade. Both combine to make the thru passage a memorable experience. Sometimes the tunnel is a trap of the local police because there is often a speed limit of 30 km/h which is naturally often ignored by motorbikes. Unfortunately sometimes there is a radar control at the beginning of the lower side of the tunnel – which can be quite expensive.
The old road was bypassed by the much-feared tunnel. The gradient along this bypass is pretty steep. There’s a memorial for a military truck that fell off the road in 1954 killing 20 or so young soldiers. Collapsed cliff roads replaced by tunnels are a fairly common thing in the Alps, but they are usually fenced off, and this one is open.
The surface of this short section is simply terrible. It’s gravel, so imagine riding up that in a blizzard. It has unbelievable cliff views. The surface of the old road is gravel. It’s one of the coolest experiences of the Gavia. Currently the road is blocked on both sides because in the past a lot of motorbike and 4x4 drivers wanted to feel some adrenaline. Police decided that this is too dangerous and blocked the road. Even passing by this road block with a bicycle is difficult but one can do a short walk which is for sure worth it. The ascent is 500m long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 39 meters, and the average percentage is 7,8%.
Police is very rarely present and there are remains of guard rails. So if you are a very experienced driver you can try this piece of road. It’s recommended to take a walk first and then decide afterwards if you really want to try it. Do not try if you do not have off road tires on. You need to have enough ground clearance because this part of the road is abandoned and has not been maintained for many years.
Road suggested by: Michael Spannlang