I was expecting to be able to fill this post with tales of stoic grimacing and creaking knees as we hauled ourselves over this epic range. Maybe the rose tinting has hit extra early but I’m a bit disappointed to report that it all felt quite a lot like fun. Poppet (my bike) had a few words to say about that though!
We traded stories with a couple of French cyclists in Venice who were just staring their journey to India. Taking their advice we island hopped west out of Venice to avoid the reportedly hideous traffic north of the city. Finding ourselves on a peaceful canal-side bike path we stuck with it, and ended up at Lake Garda. Time to bite the bullet and start heading north into the hills we quickly came across another mellow bike path. After months of noisy traffic and crazy drivers this peaceful cruising along lakes and through forests on perfectly smooth tarmac was hard to leave. So we didn’t!
We entered the Adige valley, bordered by dramatic granite peaks and kept on pedalling. Soon enough the first climb started over Reschen Pass, a beautiful Austrian region full of tinkling cowbells and the odd lederhosen. First pass completed we swept into Landeck and Poppet decided to protest with a broken chain. No big deal when you’re in Europe and all that’s required is a lazy lunch until the bike shop opens its doors again. A bit of TLC, tinkering and a new chain and we’re feeling confident for the second and final pass at Ahrlberg.
I guess Poppet was still feeling unloved, she soon started to protest with an ominous clicking and pedal wiggle. Good excuse for another lazy lunch in the beautiful ski resort of St Anton. This time it’s a broken bottom bracket and it ain’t getting better on it’s own. But it’s good enough to reach the pass in time to admire the view with a beer and photo shoot at our final ‘big hill’ of the trip.
Another hole in the wallet and lazy lunch and she’s finally good to go again. Heading west to pick up the Rhine cycle route we passed along the Swiss Lake Bodensee and tried hard not to bankrupt ourselves at the extortionate Swiss prices. Having visited France plenty before we had planned on crossing into Germany and cycling the East bank of the Rhine. It didn’t quite work out that way, France beckoned, and it was lovely to try out our rusty French for some pain au chocolats and 3Euro wine along the west bank.
We cruised up the Rhine (getting the idea yet?!) and into Frankfurt to meet Dani, Oliver, two fabulous warmshowers.org hosts who instantly welcomed us into their family, and onto their trampoline with their two young sons. I’m pretty sure our bikes were happy enough, stashed away with 3 recumbents, an HGHSI and collections of other bikey toys I reckon they shared a tale or two!
Meanwhile, we hopped a flight back to Greece for our cousin’s wedding. A chance to catch up with the family, shower regularly and laze on the beach as well as the usual wedding shenanigans. And an extra shenanigan or two! Pete’s attended a fair few weddings in his professional career. He’s certainly never witnessed the bride, groom, and ushers splashing into the sea from the top table in all their finery. I suspect it wasn’t entirely unplanned, but I definitely hadn’t expected to be collateral damage…ah well, it was getting hot anyway. Definitely our kinda wedding!
And so, with fond farewells, we returned to Frankfurt for the final phase…not long now!
km cycled: 9866km so far!
Charles Wenner joined us on this section and is fundraising for “Grandmas,” a wonderful charity that helps kids with Aids in India and provides safe houses for child prostitutes If you´d like to donate, please contact us for their bank information.