July 12
Klosterle, Austria to Schwangau. Germany

This was another really grueling day. We started climbing immediately as we left the campground.

Only a couple hundred meters into the ride, we entered a snow shed--one of those overhanging avalanche shelters.

That wasn't so bad, but then we entered a series of tunnels. In just 2 km, we climbed over 1,000 feet inside a tunnel.

The sound of the traffic was deafening. The entire 2k was a white knuckle experience. It was dark and the traffic was heavy. I was going about 4-5 mph on a 20% grade, but felt like I was crawling. When I got to the other end, I was nearly catatonic from fear. I opted for the sag wagon. Gosh I'm turning into a wimp. This sort of situation is beyond my experience. I've never liked traveling in tunnels, even in a car, but to travel in the dark on a bicycle uphill 1,000 feet in a tunnel is nothing short of torture.

Bill and Kären stuck with it.

After reaching the top of Flexinpass (1773 m), I elected to ride again.The vistas were gorgeous.

I was well ahead of the group and reached the scene of a horrible motorcycle accident. There are huge numbers of motorcycle groups riding through the Alps. They tend to like to zoom down from the passes just as we do. I went about 38 mph as I zoomed down from Flexinpass. A motorcyclist was probably going far faster when he lost control on the road. He apparently attempted to correct and over corrected, flying out of control end over end into a rock face. When I came on the scene, he seemed alive and to be talking to his biker friends, who had placed a folded jacket under his head as a pillow as he laid on the roadway. I went on my way sobered by the sight and my recollections of a serious motorcycle accident I experienced 32 years ago.

The first police vehicle I saw heading up the hill had its siren and emergency lights on. A subsequent ambulance did not. I saw a helicopter ambulance also heading in that direction. When the others in our group reached the scene, the road was blocked to allow the helicopter to land, but there was no hurry to take off. The accident was too severe for him to survive. We all assume he died.

Further down the hill, I came upon a group of people apparently learning to kayak in inflatable kayaks.

I came upon a village with painted decorations around all its windows and a very European Christ statue.

In Michigan we have had Strohs beer since before prohibition (during prohibition they made ice cream in their Detroit plant instead of beer). In Austria Stroh appears to be a liquor.

I was starving, so stopped at an outdoor cafe for lunch around 1:00. The menu was in German and I was alone with no command of German. I had not had a bad meal anywhere yet on this trip so decided that it did not matter what I ordered. I ordered grilled teller (mixed grill). It turned out to be an excellent grilled pork steak with potatoes and green beans. The food was great. As I was eating, Tom came along and ordered apple strudel with vanilla sauce--it looked fantastic.

There was no longer any border station between Austria and Germany on our route.

It was a nice sunny day with pleasant riding conditions, but we reached a steep climb and I attempted to stand to climb. I made the mistake of shifting up while in my granny and managed to break my chain. With Bill, Kären and Tom's help, I attempted to repair it with some spare links I had, but it was skipping badly, so I limped the rest of the way to Schwangau on a faulty bike.

Outside Füssen, there is a falls by the roadside.

Then at Schwangau, there are three of the most beautiful man-made sights in the world: Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle and a church famous for its traditional onion dome look.

More on these sights tomorrow as we have a day off.

As usual, the crew imbibed of the local brews at the end of the day.

104 km

  
Tailwinds Home Page