Austrian Alps – Day 4, 2019.
After yesterday’s epic day in the saddle, today was a far more sedate affair, but fun on every level. We’d planned a 72 mile loop that would start & finish in Telfs, a 25 minute drive from our hotel in Mutters.
The first 2 miles took us out of town on a long, straight road which was reminiscent of a French avenue with tall trees on either side, providing some protection from the overhead sun. Unlike the first 3 days of riding, there was no need of arm warmers or rain jackets – the only protection we required was sun tan lotion.
After our warm up, we were introduced to our first climb of the day, a 4 mile effort at a fairly steady 8% to 9% through a pine forest as the road rose ever higher above the alpine valley below. As I stopped to take a photo, what I think was an eagle flew across the shot & it’s ended up in my first picture.
Mosern marked the summit of the first climb – we’d ascended 1,932 feet over 4.17 miles & it had only taken us 45 minutes. For the next 9 miles the road twisted & turned as we descended into Seefeld, where we stopped for the best banana cake & a cappuccino!
We took a slight left & picked up a tail wind as we followed a verdant valley where we saw groups of workers picking strawberries & raspberries in the adjacent fields.
The road continued to drop slowly towards the Austrian/German border & before we knew it, we were in Germany & heading through the ancient town of Mittenwald, which was gearing up for a garden festival this coming weekend.
Up to this point, we’d been on quiet back roads, however, for the next part of the loop to Garmisch-Partenkirchen we were following a fairly main road, with occasional stretches of bike path – I’m sure that if I’d done a bit more research before the trip, I could have found a better way of navigating this section. We had plenty of big views up to the surrounding mountains to take our minds off the traffic – we also had the excitement of stopping at a level crossing & seeing one of the local trains go past.
We skirted around Garmisch & joined a slightly quieter road as we spent the next 13 miles gradually gaining height as we headed towards the day’s next categorised climb.
The Fernpass is only about 5 miles long & gains about 1,000 feet from it’s start point in Lermoos. As we approached the summit we saw signs for a panoramic rest stop, so decided to pull in just to see what it was all about. Way below us between the pine trees was a lake of aquamarine with huge mountains in the background – it was well worth stopping for.
As we swooped down the other side of the mountain, we passed the equally scenic lake at Fernstein, where holiday makers were sunning themselves on the beach below. We continued to descent to Nassereith, before picking up the main road again for the day’s final climb (it didn’t appear to have a name, but as we ascended more than 1,000 feet, it definitely counted as a climb!
All that remained was to descend the final 10 miles from Holzleiten back to Telfs. On a scale of 1 to 10, this loop would score a 7 (it loses 2 points for the stretches of main road where articulated trucks thundered past us – they always gave us plenty of room & it wasn’t ever dangerous, however it did detract slightly from the whole experience. I’m probably being a little harsh, as we’ve had 4 brilliant days of cycling in Austria so far, with another big day planned for Day 5.