Riding to Austria: Our Dark Cloudy Day Has A Silvretta Lining
The first thing that I did when I woke up was open up the window and look out. To my dismay the roadway was damp. But… at least it wasn’t raining. I watched four little birds playing in the fountain outside as the chilly morning air crept in. I then padded around our little room, looking at postcards, receipts and stickers that I’d accumulated so far.
With Pimmie still sawing logs in the room next door, Kenny and I set off on foot for a walk through the little town of Wassen. Just a stones throw from our hotel was a small church; St. Gallus – perched on a hill that overlooked the valley. We stood there in the damp air listening to the trains going by on the tracks above and below us and watching children in the nearby school yard.
When we started walking down the serpentine footpath back to our hotel, the heavy sky opened up. The rain that we’d managed to dodge the day before had caught up to us. It was now time for us to pay the piper. It was pouring.
Back at the hotel, with Pimmie now awake, we sat looking at our maps over breakfast. My heart broke a little when we decided against riding the Furka and Gotthard passes in the pouring rain. Sometimes I just want to kick myself when I put things off for “later”. Especially when later doesn’t come. Instead of the 2 passes we’d skipped the day before, we’d head towards clear skies in the west. We set off over the Oberalppass and headed towards Austria.
For most of the trip, I didn’t sleep very well. Each night, I would wake up several times. One night I actually had some strange, upsetting dreams. I could probably count the number of times I’ve had a bad dream in the last 10 years on one hand, so that was pretty unusual. Between the rain, my lack of good sleep and “lazy” riding we were doing, I think it put me in a lull. This was the first day that I felt really tired on the bike.
Near the Swiss – Liechtenstein border, we crossed through what appeared to be a military post. I was a little bummed to not see a single guy opening a can of beans with his knife or something. Maybe they were all busy invading Liechtenstein again. *Point of note: Apparently aside from being a tax haven, 1/3 of the world’s false teeth are made in Liechtenstein.
When we crossed the Austrian border, we had to stop in a gas station to get a vignette sticker to put on our bikes. A vignette is a toll sticker. Apparently, you can be fined some serious Euros for failing to have one displayed. I guess that’s just one of those bits of information that is good to tuck in your back pocket, you know, in case you’re ever in the neighborhood.
Within a few miles of our last border crossing for the day, the clouds started to lift and the roads began to dry. It couldn’t have come soon enough. We were all tired and a little less enthusiastic than we’d been on the days before. Though riding through tree-lined valleys and along side streams was indeed beautiful, I think we were spoiled by the mountain riding. As luck would have it, we were heading towards the Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse.
Silvretta High Alpine Road was a fantastic ride. It starts low in a valley and weaves it’s way up along nearly perfect pavement. Once you get above the treeline you are in a rocky and barren landscape. Snow-capped mountains and glaciers surround you as you approach the reservoir at the road summit. This alpine pass was just what the doctor ordered. Silvretta was the silver lining of our otherwise dark, cloudy day.
It was getting to be late in the afternoon. For all intents and purposes we were a hop, skip and a jump from Innsbruck. So, I used my executive powers and decided that’s where we would stay for the night. So, with no plan whatsoever we went to the beautiful city of Innsbruck, Austria.