After a week in Corsica (see previous post), I parted ways with Adrian, who flew home from Ajaccio. I took the ferry to Toulon, having in mind a very particular pass I wanted to ride on the way home. It's called Colle del Nivolet and is situated in the north-west of Italy in the region called Grand Paradiso. The road of this particular pass was never finished for motorized vehicles and from the map it was unclear of a particular strech (Croce dell Arolley to Pont Breuil) is rideable at all. Well, now I can say for sure it is not rideable with a touring bike. With a downhill machine and a good rider it might (very much to the nuisance of the pedestrians). But crossing the Colle del Nivolet from south to north, it is doable. The mentioned passage the bike has to be "pushed", well on has to dismount and carefully streer around the rocks and using the breaks a lot. Luckly the trail is large enough that the pedals of the bike don't keep hitting the shins all the time (especially with a Rohloff). However, trying to do the crossing from north to south will result in you carrying the luggage and the bike (probably separately) some 200-300 meters up, which is long and tyring exercise.
So for those long-distance bikers who want to have ride through the Grand Paradiso and who like some challenging riding, try Colle del Nivolet south-to-north (Pont Canavese to Pont Breuil). It's awsome!
Here's a photostream from the ride through the French and Italian Alps via Col de Lombarde, Colle del Nivolet and Col du Grand St. Bernard.