Solo over the Alps – Grossglockner High Alpine Road

crossing into Austria
crossing into Austria heading for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Leaving Munich I had a new determination to get over the Alps, and I had packed with me a secret weapon too. Every time I run so much as a 10k fun run back at home, and always on marathons and half marathons I get given a goody bag with some kind of sports energy supplement. I typically never use them so over the last two years or so I’ve amassed a diverse collection of flavours brands and types; some dried powers, some bars that you just eat and some gels, which always leave something to be desired when it comes to taste and texture. Nonetheless, they might just have their time and place right here and now as I haul this lump of a bike up and over something called the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. I only recently learnt that Grossglockner is Austria’s highest mountain and that the road over it was ridiculed when construction was first proposed. It has an interesting history, see the wiki.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Grossglockner High Alpine Ribbon of Perfection

If it wasn’t for little green patches of paint at 10 meter intervals on the road I might never have made it. I pointed my bike at the road, struck the lowest gear and settled in for hours of painfully slow and laborious ascent, my vision narrowed and all my focus was directed at the next inexplicable green patch of paint. If I could just make it to the next one, and the next one, and the one after that then eventually I might find myself at the top.

After every couple of 18% inclines I’d look up and be blown away with some of the most majestic mountain scenery and a view of the serpentine road winding down the mountain behind me, it was tremendous and worth every last stroke of pedaling.

Wurzner Pass
Wurzner Pass, right after the Grossglockner High Alpine Road!

Roadies would cycle past me on their carbon framed bikes and gape at the ridiculous sight of me and what I was riding. I got handed half a banana and handful of carbohydrate sweets by some of the cyclists that overtook me, they must have really thought I needed it. I must have seen nearly 100 bikes on that pass and no one else was carrying more than a small rucksack. They were clearly better informed about this high alpine pass than me, but I didn’t care, it was great fun and people encouraged me on almost continually, such is the camaraderie between cyclists.

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