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Thursday, July 28, 2022

June 17th: Scuol to Nauders

My 2018 tour with Bowen featured a fateful promise that I would come to regret: breakfast in Austria, lunch in Switzerland, and dinner in Italy. When I planned this year's tour, the trip from Scuol to Nauders looked to be short, and I looked for lodging on the Italian side, but couldn't find any! It turned out that I had made a mistake on --- rather than keeping everyone in one room, I should have looked for 2 rooms, which would have opened up lodging options. But I might not have tried very hard --- memories of that painful day in 2018 had left a deep impression on me, and in fact that morning when I set out from Scuol, I felt like I needed a rest after 2 hard days in the mountains without prior acclimatization.

The descent from Scuol down to Martina was fast, with some pedaling required here and there, but in the cool still air of the morning very pleasant, though once in the shade the kids complained about being cold and put on their down jackets.

Once down in Martina, we made a right turn onto the Nobertspass road, and proceeded up the numbered turns (which weren't too many). Cyclists marveled at seeing the triplet bike, and would ask us for photos. One cyclist from Germany said she was headed to Castelrotto that day. Castelrotto was famous but it looks very generic from the bike path, which is why I'd never thought to stop there.
Being relatively fresh and not exhausted by extreme efforts to make it to Martina, we made easy and short work of the pass and made it to Nauders at 11:00am. Upon arrival at the hotel, we were too early for them to give us our rooms, but said we could take the cable car up to the Mutzkopf, where a hike could take us to a couple of lakes.
We walked to the cable car to discover it was an open air chair-lift which took mountain bikes. In fact, the ticket agent was nonplussed when we showed up asking for lift tickets without bikes. It then dawned on me that we were still wearing bike clothes, but of course, our bikes were not suitable for extreme downhill and I hadn't thought to rent mountain bikes in town! I was surprised that there wasn't a mountain bike rental place right next to the lift!

We were positioned to sit on the chairs and then sat down. Of course I immediately committed a boo-boo, which was that I hadn't noticed the chair restraints which was a safety bar overhead that you had to pull down after the chair was in flight, and so sat on the entire ride thinking about how amazing it was that nobody had fallen off the lift while drunk and sued the entire outfit out of existence for having a lack of restraints!

The hike itself was pleasant enough, but nothing spectacular after we'd visited Scuol. I'm sure if we had more time, energy, or better hiking shoes we could have done something higher and more ambitious, but it was a warm day and there were many tree houses to distract the kids until we got to Schwazersee. We didn't feel the need to visit other lakes, and so started heading back.

One interesting feature of the European culture is the widespread acceptance of smoking. When we got back to the lift, the place was swamped with cyclists, but you could smell the tobacco smoke in the air. Whereas you'd almost never see a mountain biker light up in California, apparently mountain biking culture in Austria was such that it was more than acceptable to burn up your lungs prior to a ride. After all, you don't have to pedal uphill --- the chairlift is there to do the climbing for you!

 We returned to the hotel, and I discovered how rare GoPro dealers were in Europe. I expected to be able to find a bike mount for the GoPro at any bike shop, but none of the shops were dealers and hence didn't carry any accessories! The hotel did serve a half pension dinner, so I was once again able to eat my fill, especially from the salad buffett.

I had thought about how we were going to tackle the Stelvio, and at dinner I unveiled my plans: at Prato Allo Stelvio, I would use the e-bike to deliver luggage to the hotel first, and then come back and ride the triplet up the mountain without luggage. I could do that for all 3 days of the Stelvio climb if necessary, and this approach would raise the success of our attempt to climb the Stelvio dramatically! I went to bed much more confident that we would be able to execute this plan.

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