Where the men get theirs!

Trip Start May 04, 2013
Trip End Jul 07, 2013

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Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Thursday, June 13, 2013

The decision to stay in Oetz (where Greg tells us 'the men get theirs!') was made to set us up in close proximity for our ride over several other passes in the area.

Oetz was another of Greg’s great finds as far as places to stay go. Our hotel was a traditional Austrian building and looked like a castle fit for a king. Our room was spacious and romantic – according to the owner. The wood paneling and arches in the room certainly gave it a warm, romantic feel. We wandered around town during the afternoon, talking to locals – we even saw Barbie out for a walk, and then returned to our hotel to plan our route for the next day’s riding.

The next pass would be Timmelsjoch - Passo Rombo at 2509m.

Leaving Oetz, fully loaded with all our gear, we headed south towards Solden. We had been told by a German doctor we met at the MV Agusta factory that he liked riding this pass better than Stelvio, so we had high expectations. We were not to be disappointed.

This is a toll road so we dutifully paid our 23 Euro, received our complimentary?? sticker for the bike and set off.

This ride was in bright sunlight with dry roads and was a pleasure. The snow drifts beside the road were 3 times higher than us on the bike and we were unable to see around the corners at times, but everyone was in the same boat and riding/driving with great care and courtesy. We could easily see why the German doctor enjoyed this pass so much. The corners were more sweeping than Stelvio – still a challenge – but the road surface was smoother. We reached the summit for the compulsory photo opportunities.

On the way down, some of the other traffic really put the difficulty of this pass into perspective for us – we encountered many cyclists and then to top it all off – a contingent of tractors heading up as we were going down!

We had one more pass to ride today – Jaufenpass passo Giovo at 2094m. We had riden this pass in 2007 so we knew what we were in for. We had fond memories of stopping for coffee and chatting with a pair of bikers from Austria. The ride was just as we remembered – winding and enjoyable. We then hit the valley below to ride in to Lienz, our base for the next night. We had planned to stay here just one night but when we realized the town’s proximity to Grossglockner Glacier it was decided to stay two nights.

Lienz was a much larger town than we had thought – we even discovered that it had 2 motor bike dealers, something we had not come across very often in recent travels.

Greg had plotted our course for the day’s riding taking us on what turned out to be a great day. We set off towards Mallnitz and then travelled through Tauern Tunnel on another vehicular train. This one only took about 15 minutes and we got to sit in a carriage, rather than stand holding on to the bike which was strapped down by the train staff. Exiting the other side of a tunnel, Kerrie suggested that the next town should be our morning tea stop – good choice!

Bad Gastein was a town perched on the side of the mountain. As we descended into the town we soon realized that we had found a little gem. Tour buses spilled their occupants to check out this picturesque town. The main attraction, other than the precariously perched hotels, was a waterfall tumbling from the side of a hill, under a bridge in the main street and continuing down the mountain.  Photos were taken before Greg asked if we had seen anywhere to have our coffee. Kerrie pointed out the DORFBACKEREI, just 100m up the street – we had a good giggle when Greg told us that he thought it was a back packers when he first rode passed it!

We continued our ride north and then west for about 30 minutes before heading south again to Grossglockner. This is a ride that our friends, Mike and Jo Hannan had told us about, so we were keen to join the club of Aussies that have ridden it.

Again, this is a toll road but we willingly paid up, received our complimentary sticker for the bike (only cost us the 29 Euro toll!) and headed up. This ride, again not as challenging as Stelvio, was just as spectacular. I guess the ride could be divided into 3 distinct sections. The ride up to the first restaurant at Fuscherorf, the ride down the other side and then the ride in to the glacier itself.

Each section had its own charm. The ride up had sweeping curves flanked by sheer rugged mountains and snow drifts well over the height of the bike. We had not gone far when all the traffic in front of us stopped dead. We could see a small avalanche of snow tumbling down on to the road ahead of us. We soon realized that it was being caused by a skier – we think it was to make the road safer by having a controlled avalanche, rather than one that occurred unexpectedly. We waited with the other riders until the snow plough had cleared the fall and then continued up the mountain. We stopped at the first restaurant for photos and looked back down the mountain at where we had come from.

After a short break it was down the other side – again a really enjoyable ride beside snow drifts and rugged mountains. The turn off to the glacier was soon on us. Up again to the top – 2500m, the highest pass in Austria and one of the 10 highest in Europe. We parked with hundreds of other bikes who were already there. The glacier has receded considerably since the 1870’s but is still a spectacular sight. We checked out the scenery, bought a couple of postcards, and took photos, even got one of the resident marmoset that live in the grass area at the side of the glacier – what a cute creature.

Back on the bike it was back to Lienz, a visit to one of the bike shops before a cold beer and another ‘Greggy Dinner’ on the balcony of our hotel.

Our quest to ride some spectacular mountain passes had been achieved. The good news is - there are still many more to ride another time.

Tomorrow we are off to Slovenija – a new destination for us.
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J Hannan on

It's a great club to be part of, isn't it? We're thoroughly enjoying your blog.

Sandra on

Fantastic photos

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