Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fusch (Grossglockner)

What a great day! It was entirely centred around the Grosshlockner Alpine road, which I spent the majority of the day struggling to get up and the remains as the Sun was getting low zooming down the other side.

I headed off reasonably early. The hotel I'd stayed at started breakfast very early. Normally I'm champing at the bit for the breakfast hour to begin. In this case I was still sleeping when it came around. Even so I got in early and long, as it was pretty good value. All while eating I was wondering whether I'd misunderstood the price of the room that I'd been told the previous night and that I'd have a nasty surprise waiting when the bill came. As a result I did my best to get my money's worth. When the bill came it was as I'd heard and I rode off very satisfied.

The hotel sat on a hill, from there I dropped down to the Drau valley a couple of kilometres below. I figured that From just up the valley I would start the long 1700m climb. The ride along the valley was like that of the Gail valley the previous day. There was a nice paved cycle path which ran beside the river. Austria is well set up for cycle touring, even for those with less of an appetite for climbing than I. There were sights signposted off the path as were places to eat and accommodation.

The valley was a couple of kilometres wide and almost all the land that wasn't built on was farmed with corn being a popular crop. There were lots of fields that were being harvested for hay. There were occasional villages which all had a prosperous look. At one point I came across the ruins of a Roman city that was still being a team of archaeologists A sign beside the ruins said that it was inhabited until 6C AD and it was only ruined Roman city in the Tirol.

Around here the first climbing started, I was at around 650m, the high point being around 2500m. It was going to be a long day. After getting up to 1200m I realised the limitation of the map that I was using. It wasn't a solid climb, rather I was going over a saddle into another valley. If I'd seen this better I would have come up the valley that I dropped into rather than go over the hill.

Anyway once in the valley I found a nice bike path that took me almost to the base of the Grossglockner Alpine road. It was a mecca for motorcyclists. It was a bit frustrating that they went past so fast and I struggled to go as slow as possible. I'd enjoy the panorama better than they would for having earned it.

The scenery was quite different from that of the Italian Dolomites, more like classic high mountain terrain. There were trees until about 2000m and uninhibited views of the 3000m or higher peaks around. The view from the top was amazing. I arrived quite late so had it mostly to myself.

The way down was very fast. There were switchbacks but plenty of straight between them. I only allowed myself to reach 60km/h but if I hadn't been such a chicken could have gone a lot faster.

I stayed at the rather musty Hotel Post in Fusch for 33 Euros for B&B.

GPS N 47º13.599 E 012º49.558
Total distance 107km, average 14.2km/hr
7 hours and 33 minutes cycling
2345m altitude gained, maximum altitude 2500m

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