OMG, 100 miles of mountain passes
|Travel From||–||Spielberg, Austria|
|Intermediate Location||–||Red Bull Ring, Austria|
|Ending Location||–||Bolzano, Italy|
|Miles Driven Today||–||229 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||3388 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–||Italy|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy|
Much more difficult than you would think, with only 229 miles.
Departure from BnB in Austria
Rinehard and Stephanie invited me to join them for breakfast this morning. In fact, Rinehard insisted in providing me with a proper Biker Breakfast. So, we had ham and eggs, coffee, breads, meats, cheeses, and more. What a delicious way to start the day. With Breakfast completed, and the bike packed, I waved good-bye to my two wonderful hosts, and hit the road. I probably left at around 7:45 or so.
Preparation for the GPS
I could not afford to suffer with map issues like yesterday, so I spent some time last night, and again this morning, making sure that the routes were reasonable, and would route correctly when submitted to the GPS. So, I played around with them, until I was satisfied, and reloaded the GPS.
As it turns out, in order to get them to route correctly, I needed to add the Red Bull Ring as the first way-point. So, I did it, and hit the road. The ring is only about 15 miles from the BnB, so I headed right to the track, but on my way, I passed a KTM dealer, and I thought I’d stop in and get a little bit of air in my tires. With the difference in air pressure and air temperature, coupled with the fact that I’d be riding a few mountain passes today, I wanted to be sure that the tires were set correctly. And that’s how I met Herbert.
Herbert seems to be the manager of the KTM shop, and he was very helpful, although he couldn’t help himself, as he told me that the KTM is a better bike, and it costs 5000 Euros less than my bike. That said, he was very fair in his understanding of the strengths and weakness’s of both bikes, and he seemed to be a very reasonable guy.
The Red Bull Ring
The Ring is only .75 miles from the KTM shop, so I was tat the track within 90 seconds or so, and I pulled up to the gate, and told the story of how I’m riding around the world, and wanted pictures of the Red Bull Ring. He said to please proceed, and to park in front of the Visitor Center, and enjoy the track.
When I arrived, I was about as giddy as a little schoolgirl.
After spending a few minutes looking at the cars, I took a walk to the end of the Pit Straight, and took a video of the entire track from there. The view was excellent, and I was astonished how much of the track I could see.
Making my way to Balzano
As mentioned, I really needed to have an efficient day of riding. I could not tolerate getting lost, and having to spend a lot of time figuring things out. So, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the GPS worked almost perfectly, never getting me off track, but on 3 occasions, it took me off of the main highway, in favor of routing on side streets through a small town or two. The reroute probably caused me to lose about 2 minutes on each occasion, so not really a problem at all.
All that said, today I rode on some of the most beautiful motorcycle roads that I’ve seen. But, when I reached the point of 100 miles to go, just after crossing into Italy from Austria, I started to get rain, and I started to see that virtually every road in Italy is a test of manhood. For sure, each of these roads causes you to manage one switchback after the next, with each one introducing more camber, more incline, and a tighter turn. I never had an issue, nor did I make any mistakes, but the pressure you feel to get it right is always present.
The Stattler Pass
Shortly after passing into Italy, you come upon the Stattler Pass. When I say shortly after, I mean about 50 meters. At this point, you’re at the highest point on the pass, and you’re about to head down from the top, into Italy.
I arrived at this point at about 16 mutes pas the hour. The signs that are next to the stop light are written in Italian and German, two languages that I have not yet learned, so I simply waited for about 20 minutes, when a nice couple came up to me, and they said that the pass is a one way road, and it’s open in our direction from 00:00 to 00:15, and then it’s closed for 45 minutes. So, I would not be allowed to head down the pass until another 30 minutes had passed. So, I parked the bike at the restaurant, got a coffee, and waited in the dry restaurant. At the 5-minutes-to-go mark, I remounted my trusty steed, and got ready.
As you can see from the video, this is the point where the weather started.
The rest of the trip, just about 100 miles was entirely on windy, narrow, roads, filled with switchbacks, and off-camber turns. I could not believe that I was riding along at speeds that ranged from 10 mph to 45 mph, as I managed these obstacles, one after another.
With about 20 miles to go, the GPS put me on a primary highway, and I thought I was home free, and would be in Balzano in a few minutes, but that was wishful thinking. First, I found out that this was a toll road, and second, immediately after I picked up my toll ticket, it started to rain, pretty hard.
It took me almost 4 minutes to pay the toll, and get my act together, and as I arrived in Balzano, it was raining hard, and I had to wait for about 25 minutes for my host to meet me at the BnB, and show me where to park the bike.
I had expected to arrive by 2:00 PM, but when I ended up arriving at 6:00 PM, my entire day of sightseeing was shot, and I was going to miss everything that I had hoped to see. Tomorrow, there simply won’t be enough time, so I’m afraid that Balzano will wait until next time.
So, what will tomorrow bring
Well, it looks like tomorrow’s ride will be about 300 miles, and included in those miles are two mountain passes. The first, the Stelvio is only 9 miles long, but it is supposed to be treacherous, and the second, the Silvetta Strassa is 25 miles long, and it looks relentless. So, I’m really worried about tomorrow being a really long day, but time will tell.
I’ll need to get a very early start, and get to the Stelvio before any weather breaks, but to be honest, that’s not looking too good. It’s supposed to be raining in Northern Italy tomorrow, and I’m going to have a day that will test me, through and through.
If you can squeeze in a visit to see Ötzi while in Bolzano, give him my regards; however, with rainy mountain passes in the forecast, you’re wise to hit the road early, and save Ötzi and more of the Dolomites for another trip. Continued safe travels!
I’ve ridden the Stelvio by bicylce 2x and the 41 switchbacks are famous! Enjoy your trip. I also saw the Iceman in the Bolzano museum. if you have a moment, worth the trip. What style of beer do you prefer? As you know Belgium is famous…
Yes, I was surprised by how many cyclists were out there, riding in this shitty weather. But, I know that you’ve got true grit, and if you didn’t have to take care of an old friend from the US this weekend, you’d be riding it too.
Now, as to the beer question, I’m partial to Belgium Whites, with Orange, but I’ve had a couple of Belgium fruit beers, with raspberry and strawberry that were simply awesome. My sister-in-law and I fell in love with them.
Hey Cliff, are you planning on visiting Moconesi, Genoa? I hear there’s lots of people there that share our surname.
Sorry Bro. The extent of my time in Italy was limited to the Dolomites. But, I’d really love to ride all of Southern Italy, so perhaps next time…
Maria and I are following your Blog everyday. Awesome track and the videos are great. Stay safe and enjoy your trip.
First of all, I need an adjustment, really bad. I could sure use your help. Can you fly to Belgium, in time for an adjustment this weekend? I’m glad that you and Maria are following along. I’m having a lot of fun, about 97% of the time. The other 3% is torture.
“virtually every road in Italy is a test of manhood”
No worries for you my friend!
Dave, I laughed out loud when I read your comment. You’re right, this entire country is a test of manhood. In fact, I almost called the post, “I became a man today”, but thought it might be too much.