My ‘big’ bicycle tour – Day 6

From Bad Endbach to Asolo Bicycle Solo Tour 2016                                                  May 7th to 15th

Thursday, 12th May (Day 6)

mika-o-manninen-germany-to-italy-bicycle-trip-2016-1000km-32 If I had known at breakfast time what a day I would have, I think I would have stayed in the hotel, but the weather didn’t look that bad. One hour later, after the steady climb into Brenner, I was soaked and cold. As the road flattened out and my speed picked up, it was too much for me. I started shaking and shivering. All I could do was pullover and search for shelter. It was around 2° to 5° Celsius, so I needed to get out of my wet cycling gear pretty soon. Going forward wasn’t an option any more. Preventing illness was my priority now. I searched for a place and found it in a restaurant. It wasn’t even 11 o’clock in the morning but the workers were preparing for lunch. I got changed into my jeans and put on every shirt I had. I sat next to their wood-fired stove and slowly warmed up. Many thoughts were going through my head. Do I call it a day? Where do I go? Then slowly I got the idea which I actually already had weeks ago. A backup plan for bad weather. And in the end it worked exactly as I had planned. After having a pizza in the restaurant I packed my wet stuff in a rubbish plastic bag. I went to the railway station, pushing my bike and carrying that plastic bag in the other hand. Searched for the next train to Brixen, 25km away. It was leaving in five minutes at 13:00 hours. I ran into some Italian rail workers and they said get on the train and buy your ticket from the conductor. But, and it is a big but, in Italy it is an offence to be on a bus or train without a validated ticket. Luckily the conductor was on the platform and he told me to get onto the last carriage. There are hooks for transporting bikes. It is a funny feeling to hang a carbon bike on a hook. But better was yet to come. The train trip to Brixen lasted 45 minutes. Relatively slow due to the descent. Now I was only 30 km from the hotel in Antermoia where I wanted to stay. But it was behind a mountain pass of 2000m! I asked a taxi driver and he checked his navigation and said €120. So, next option. I went and asked a bus driver. He didn’t quite believe what I wanted to do, but helped out and sent me to the correct bus. It was already waiting and was half full. The driver wasn’t sure at all about my plans. He was sure that all the hotels near the pass were closed, that the pass it self was closed and that it could also be snowing on top. I would only be 20 km’s away from the hotel and 16km from the pass after the final climb (of around 350 elevation metres). It was worth a go. I paid for the bike and myself and then the bus driver took me to the back of the bus and hung my bike on the rack on the outside. In the words of Orica Green Edge, ‘put me on roof’. Then I went and sat down on the backseat, to watch my bike. Swaying to and fro…. I can tell you, it’s not the best feeling watching a carbon bike doing that on twisty roads going up a steep hill.

So there I was, standing in the rain at 1700m above sea level, in fog. The bus drove away and the driver waved a final friendly goodbye. Now I had only one choice. Get changed into my dry riding gear and give it a go. I would need a bit over an hour to get up and over that pass. My cycle shoes were soaked from the morning ride, but luckily I had been given two plastic bags, so I ripped one down the middle and wrapped my feet in the remaining corners of the bag, and put on my shoes. That would keep my feet dry for a while. Even though I had booties, the rain soaks its way down the legs to the feet. I zipped up my backpack and put a rain cover on it.

Then I was off, into the fog. It was steady going and I was actually pretty warm from the effort of climbing this mountain. Finally I reached the pass and then I had only 4 km to go. The road was full of cracks from winter, which were long, deep and sometimes 5 cm wide. They’d swallow a 25 mm road wheel with no trouble at all. So there I was with water running down my cycling glasses obscuring my view. I took it relatively easy and made it to the ‘Pension Maria’ just after 4:30 PM. Checked in, packed a laundry bag (which was nearly all the clothes I had) and headed down to the sauna. That was the end of the shortest kilometre day, with 40 km, but the toughest by any standard. I already knew that this day wouldn’t be forgotten so quickly. That rapped up six days of cycling with 755 km.

((MotD)) Freezing, warming up, getting on the train, getting on the bus, riding over the Pass & arriving in the Hotel. Lesson learnt – Get real rain gear!

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