Lago di Garda (Italy) to Bludenz (Austria)
When my windsurfing buddy Hartmut Duerholt from Karlsruhe, Germany invited me to bike south to north across the Alps with him to celebrate his 70th birthday, little did I know what I was getting myself into. Granted, I do hate road biking but love mountain biking – nevertheless the chance to see the Alps by pedal power overcame my sane senses. I’m fit ‘right’. Those high mountain passes can’t be that bad, ‘can they’?
Hartmut may be 70, but try catching him on a windsurfer. Now I can frankly confess, try catching him climbing up a 1800 metre mountain pass. The man has carbon fibre for muscles. His heart rate averages 30 beats per minute lower than mine, and my resting heart rate is 50. What the hell? He is a machine!
Rosanna and I flew into Milan on the 28th September and immediately went to Lake Garda just south of the Italian Alps to meet Hartmut and Brigitte. After a brief couple of days of R & R, October 2 we biked out of Limone sur Garda/ Riva and headed up – way up. The road zigzagged and snaked up forever over beautiful countryside and through tiny ancient villages to a pass that never seemed to come. But finally success and relief, Passo Ballino emerged. We jacketed up, and all that sweat and tears climbing at 8- 10% got blown dry whizzing back down the other side. Of course it all started again and again and again as we climbed each mountain pass only to fly down the switchbacks on the other side.
This is a must challenge for any insane/ sane biker, traveller, outdoor lover who wants to see the Alps ‘the real way’. The cows and goats with their dangling bells clanging, the expansive rolling green hills and pastures, the medieval colourful villages with their exquisite churches and tall pointed steeples, the rushing streams and cascading waterfalls, the incredible beauty of the magnificant Alps. And at a pace you can digest it all.
Remembering a funny expression a friend once told me years ago while he was overcoming personal hardship, I looked at Hartmut over dinner one night and said: “Life is Tough, eh”?
A short word of advice when you go. I suggest you get really fit before you invite Hartmut to join you… CHEERS.
Biking the Alps