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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 25: Sankt Michael im Lingau to Winklern

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We woke up as early as we could to tackle Katschberg pass. Departing the hotel at 7:40am, we left town and immediately hit the 15% grade. The roadside market labeled 15% grade for the next 2.8km. What it doesn't tell you is that the reason for that marking is that it gets steeper after that!
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

We ground along the road, and mercifully there was very little traffic. After the 2.8km was over, there was a flat section of about 200m long, where we stopped to take a break. But we saw to our dismay that the road kept going even more steeply past there, where another roadside market told us to expect a 17% grade for another 1.5km. Well, looking at my GPS unit it looked more like 18% grade, with an occasional foray into the over 20% category. We were wasted by the time we got to the top, which once again had no pass sign or elevation marker.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

With that kind of work, you would expect to be rewarded by a beautiful descent, right? As a matter of fact, no. The descent was a 21% grade, and twisty enough that I could not keep from riding the brakes. The first time I stopped the bike, I sprinkled some water from my water bottle and I saw steam come out. Checking the temperature dots that Pardo had installed, I saw that we had gone past the 101C dot, but not the 110 dot. We had to wait almost 15 minutes to cool the rim down. It took another stop before the road straightened out to the point where we could just let the bike roll.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Rolling down towards Seeboden alongside the river, we saw the autobahn high above us on a ridge, frequently flying out on buttressed segments. It was very impressive engineering. Fooled by a sign for the artistic town of Gmund, which was basically a single street of painted houses. Very nice, but hardly remarkable compared to what we had already seen. It did, however, have a supermarket that was open on Sunday, which was unique.

Near the bottom of the river valley before the road led towards Seeboden, we turned off towards Lieserhofen. This was very pleasant, as it was a smaller road than the highway (which admittedly did not have much traffic as the Autobahn carried most of the traffic), and granted us nice views of what we would have to face towards Winklern.

At Reisseck we turned off the main highway hoping to see an open supermarket, now that we knew the occasional Spar would be opened on Sundays, but had no such luck. We found a playground with a turned off water fountain, turned it on, and ate lunch and had a nap. By the time we got going again it was 1:00pm, and the weather was very warm.

Riding up the valley after that towards Winklern was an exercise in torture. Not only was it warmer than 34C, there was a gentle tailwind that was too weak to provide us with any assistance, but on the climbs forced us to make do without even the 1mph wind that we were capable of generating just by moving. The road was completely exposed and we felt like we were in an oven, slowly being baked.

At Pusstratten we spotted a restaurant and a bus-stop, and pulled off, looking for ice cream and an excuse to stop. The proprietress took pity on us and gave us big glasses of cold water as well, and refilled our bottles with iced water. She told us also that the bike path was shaded, even though it was longer. We contemplated waiting for the bus to pick us up, but it was an hour and a half to wait, given that it was a Sunday, so we got onto the bike and rode off onto the bike path.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

The bike path was indeed shaded, twisty, windy, and had more climbing, but it was a relief. After just 15 minutes on the bike path, we saw signs of an impending thunderstorm. Never was impending rain greeted with so much delight from us, but now we had fresh impetus to roll into Winklern, which was lit up by sunlight coming through a hole in the clouds like the promised land.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Arriving in Winklern, we were directed to a very cheap bed and breakfast by the tourist information center, but a bed inspection revealed some bugs, leading us to ride back to the center of town where we took an expensive room but very well appointed room at the Hotel Tauern just before a massive thunderstorm rolled in.


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