Clothing recommendation for touring in the Alps (South Tyrol) in May

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
nemeseri
Posts: 618
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:40 pm

by nemeseri

I plan to do a bike touring vacation in South Tyrol in May with my buddy and started to do some research.
Seems like the climate data is quite vague. I guess because of the wild differences between high valleys and sunnier towns at lower elevation.

Our route includes famous passes (Stelvio, Gavia) and a lot of variation in elevation. I'm looking for first hand experiences what we should expect temperature wise. Any clothing tips are welcomed for long touring rides, given I have zero experience in packing for anything longer than 2 days.
Last edited by nemeseri on Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

sgergole
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Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:39 am

by sgergole

Shorts, no need for thermo or 3/4. Arm warmers and optional knee warmers. Long windstopper for the descents and always a base layer. The main problem wi be going downhill, on the top of the mountain ask a newspaper to put between the wind stopper and the jersey. You can find snow on the top of tbe stelvio or gavia, but in the valley (bormio for example) there are 20 degrees without problems. If you go for long, medium/slow rides, then consider long sleeves

by Weenie


gitsome
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Location: nyc

by gitsome

Ive only hiked there but bre prepared for ANYYHING from sumny 70 degs to snow whiteout in same day. Id bring one of everything long and short gloves, shorts bibs and a shell and couple of insulating and base layers, neck warmer, sunglasses and a race jersey. Its bannanas up there, and the most beautoful place on earth :) BE AWARE OF HUGE BUSES!!! BRING SAFETY LIGHTS FRONT AND BACK and cell backup battery, 2 bottles lots of snacks

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Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

Nemeseri, sounds like a good trip.

I have been over many of the passes in that area. Unless you can guarantee that you will not get rained on when you are up in the mountains (nearly impossible), I would never, ever go up without a good rain jacket. Most brands have those high tech breathable plastic items with a long tail. Or super high end lightweight gore tex is also good. They can be rolled up to fit in a jersey or tied to the bike. A jacket like this or similar could save your life.

Add to this arm and knee warmers, shell gloves to go over your other gloves, and if you have room, shoe covers depending on the circulation in your feet.

The bottom line is this: in July I have experienced 5 degree temps in pouring rain at altitude. You have about 10 to 15 minutes before you loose feelings in your hands on a descent in these conditions. I had the first stages of hypothermia this summer descending the Falzarego in the rain, and that is a minor pass. I was shaking by the bottom. I had a raincoat, arm warmers and should covers. My crime? I decided against knee warmers that day.

In May, I would not go above 1000 meters if there is a good chance of precipitation. I once had to ride an extra 100 km around the Tourmalet because it was closed due to snow - in July!

Go for it, but be prepared.
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gitsome
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Location: nyc

by gitsome

Bring a backpack for the rides w everything in it and extra food, lights, insulation etc

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dolophonic
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Location: The 'Dena

by dolophonic

You better bring it all... many times it will be sunny one day and snow the next in the big mountains especially in May .. just think how many times the Giro has had weather issues recently?
Even in June it can be an issue.
Good rain jacket and warm kit is a must... hope for the best ..expect the worse .. then you will be ok.

basilic
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Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:05 am
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

by basilic

Stelvio and Gavia and other passes >2000m may not be open in May, in likelihood. It depends on the winter snowfall, but May is very optimistic.

victorduraace
Posts: 247
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:10 pm

by victorduraace

Good GoreTex jacket, plus thin rain jacket, on cooler days I would add thicker Merino wool longsleeve, comfy thermo 3/4s. Better to be little hotter than experience hypothermia on first descent.

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micky
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by micky

Make sure to have some windproof and waterproof, because in May the weather can be very variable.

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cyclespeed
Posts: 585
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:45 am

by cyclespeed

Mr.Gib has it right.

The weather can turn bad very quickly in the Alps, ANY time of the year.

I've done 2 Etape du Tours in absolutely freezing conditions in July.

Bring plenty of warm / protective stuff with you on the trip. If on the day it looks good and settled then you can you leave most of it behind.

GambadiLegno
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Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:26 am
Location: Spain

by GambadiLegno

I work in a tour operator. We go every year in different trips to that area. Bring absolutely everything, as if you were going to ride in Finland. Every winter gear you have will be needed unless you're very lucky.

This past year was snowing in Stelvio in mid-June, and next week we were at the top at 30ºC. I descended to Prato only with shorts and summer jersey. In May, it's usual to be closed, same as Gavia or Mount Crostis (this one was closed in June too).

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jekyll man
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by jekyll man

Done the Gavia in the middle of july with snow banks and it being -7°C at the refugio, so expect anything in may, including closed roads.
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mortirolo
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Location: EU

by mortirolo

Stelvio and Gavia are another category than Pordoi or Sella. You need gloves (most important item! Castelli Lightness or warmer), base layer, descending vest (open back), shoe covers, castelli sorpasso bib tight, bandana.
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wingguy
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:43 pm

by wingguy

sgergole wrote:Shorts, no need for thermo or 3/4. Arm warmers and optional knee warmers. Long windstopper for the descents and always a base layer. The main problem wi be going downhill, on the top of the mountain ask a newspaper to put between the wind stopper and the jersey. You can find snow on the top of tbe stelvio or gavia, but in the valley (bormio for example) there are 20 degrees without problems. If you go for long, medium/slow rides, then consider long sleeves

Considering the question is about a bike touring trip I think this is bad advice. The conditions on the tops of the passes in May can be far beyond just finding snow, and the valleys themselves can switch from sunny to torrential rain in the blink of an eye. Given that touring implies you will need to be out riding every day to get to the next place you need to be (not just picking the warmer days to ride), the clothing you need to bring is as much as you can carry!

This is the Stelvio in May...

Image

nemeseri
Posts: 618
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:40 pm

by nemeseri

Thank you all for the comments. I knew that the high alps is a different beast than the sierra, but if the passes are usually closed in May, it will require much more research and preparation. Which is fine! It's going to be great!

by Weenie


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