Thursday, September 6, 2007

Plans, schmlans

Isn’t it funny how sometimes the best experiences are those that weren’t planned? That was definitely our experience last weekend. We had made all our plans around biking up a certain mountain pass in Italy called “Stelvio”, since we were lucky to get “insider information” from friends in Atlanta that the road was closed to cars on Saturday (how they know this from so far away we will never know!).

So we rented a car (since we still don’t own one, and even though we’re close relatively, Italy would be a bit far to bike to from here!), packed it full with the usual cycling paraphernalia, and headed out Saturday morning… Ok, actually it was more like noon by the time we got out (change to plans #1!).

This was our first trip using TomTom navigating system, and we are already addicted – Can’t go anywhere without good ol’ TT now! The funny thing about TT is that sometimes it can lead you to a mode of transport you might not expect – Like a ferry. This was the case for us – not a water-ferry, but a train-ferry through a tunnel. Now that’s something we hadn’t seen before! We didn't really know what was going on or what to do, since it was all in German (but we're getting used to constantly being lost!), so Jeff just followed the car in front of him. Once we got going was actually kind of spooky, since it was really dark in the tunnel, and we were in there at least 15 minutes.

Anyway… We made it to our planned destination (the base of Stelvio Pass) only to find that there was only one hour left before the pass opened to cars – and we didn’t exactly feel energetic enough to try climbing the 5,000 ft in a single hour (!) Plus the weather was not looking so good. So, we decided to make the day into a “road trip” day (since after all, it’s quite exciting for us to have a car!) and see how many countries we could “tag” in one day. We ended up in Austria and picked a random town to stay in, using TT to find a random place to stay. Who knew it would work out to be a town with cycling routes leading in every direction from it!

We picked up a brochure at our quaint guesthouse, and it showed various elevation profiles for the different routes in the area… and guess which one we chose...

And here Jeff points out where we’re headed (up!):

The route is out-and-back since it ends at a glacier at the top, so there was not much traffic at all. It was 100k total – 50k up (almost 7k’ elev gain!) and a reward of 50k down at the end of the day. The weather on Sunday turned out to be PERfect (which was good since we were out riding for 7 hours!).

We had a slight delay for a goat-crossing (this has happened to me more than once here already!)...

There were 29 numbered switchbacks to get to the top of the glacier:

So this was yet another example for us that when things don’t go as planned, sometimes it can be even better in the end! Plus it might be even better since we hope to do the originally-planned pass this weekend with our friends from Atlanta who recommended it.

Definitely another example of some Hills Found!

For more pictures, you can click here to see the album.

Becky and Jeff