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Sunday
Jul032011

Alps Ride - Cows

The hotel room is two stories, which I enjoyed for about 10 minutes.  The spiral staircase is about the diameter of the hole surrounding a fireman's pole  People of certain size must have to sleep on the couch and use the lobby WC, as the bedroom and bathroom are upstairs through a tiny hole in the ceiling. 

The riding day started with rain and no visibility, followed by rain with visibility -> wet roads and no rain -> dry roads and overcast, and finally parting of the clouds, revealing a beautiful late afternoon sky. The contrast was nice, appreciated the afternoon more than if it had been beautiful all day...such is life, yes?

Trummelbach Falls - 10 sequential waterfalls, some inside the mountain - was gushing, given recent rains. Tour buses disgorged their occupants - one with senior couples from Japan, one with families from India - most were racing from fall to fall, jostling, posing and snapping photos.  I'm not sure they actually looked at the falls.  Perhaps they had schedules to keep, the prospect of being left behind diluting the experience of just looking, in wonder, at what nature does. 

Lots of passes from Beatenberg to Feldkirch, including some repeats from prior day's ride. Sustern Pass was cold and stunning at 3 degrees C.  Buried in clouds on the upside of Klausen Pass, visibility of 20-40 km/h, hail at the summit. On the downside, a flock of cows grazes on the pavement.  Seven of eight cows leisurely stroll by while I'm patiently idling...the eighth approaches and gives me a big cow eye, possibly contemplating if I'd fall over if she head-butts me.  I win the stare-down, she walks by, and I circumnavigate mountains of fresh droppings.  I think "Klausen" means cowsh*t in German.  Wet road + cowsh*t = friction free.

Why did the cow cross the road?  So she could crap on it. 

Weather clears, explore a few villages, leisurely ride today. I'd intended to stop in the country of Liechtenstein, but it's so small, I rode right by it.  Thunderstorm blows in as I arrive in Feldkirch, my earliest hotel check-in this trip.  Explore the town, they're revved up for some sort of celebration, oom-pah band, the works.  Over dinner, I mixed beer, wine and Baileys...bad dog!   I occasionally,  make that "often", make bad decisions. 

Feldkirch to Imst, cool and sunny, superb Austrian roads. Silvretta Strasse is a stunning pass road.  Rounding a corner near the summit, a crazy cow is running full bore down the middle of the road...left or right?  I'm fourth in a group of four, all veer left, fortunately the cow maintains her flight path.  Mad Cow disease?

All of Switzerland and some of Austria and Germany smells of cow droppings. If methane contributes to global warming, then this is ground zero for a warmer planet.  

Final day of riding, Imst to Munich, bittersweet - hate to leave, but looking forward to getting home.  Over Hahntennjoch Pass, the northern side particularly nice. Stop to visit Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Walt Disney to a build...what was it?  King Ludwig II commissioned this incredibly expensive personal project, was subsequently declared insane, ruled unfit to rule, and removed from office. If only history would repeat itself, this time in Washington DC, though I'd be happy to see several hundred just in jail; they're not insane, just corrupt. 

Big party planned for tonight, then up at 4:00am for flights home.  This riding adventure was all I anticipated, and more. Outstanding riding - 4, 241 km - on amazing roads in all types of weather.  Made several new friends, and the citizens of Germany, Austria, Slovenia Italy and Switzerland were friendly and accommodative of my germitalspanglish.  What a place to ride - yeehaw!

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