Or the story of the...Tyrolean Superhero.. Today we started off heading by car from Innsbruck in to the Brenner Pass, which connects Austria to Italy, and headed to Vinaders.
|Alex, The Tyrolean Superhero|
Just parking the car for the start of the ride after building back up the bicycles was a scenic event and from the car park we headed out, our first goal being Obenberg am Brenner and the beginning of the off-road section of today's what was soon to be epic ride. Starting on the pave with a nice 10% grade was what is known by the Tyrolean Superhero, Alex, as a nice "warm up" for what was to come. Alex is also the partner of our pregnant and therefore unable to ride and therefore incredibly bored friend, Susanne. The pavement steadily climbed as it wound it's way up the valley and through the small villages or Dorf as they are called here.
Arriving at the first goal of the day, the parking lot of Obenburg am Brenner, we began the next section, of course climbing, along with hikers, strollers and the elderly. With the 10 to 15% grade of climbing the Californians were passed by walking elderly Tyrolean and Alex was fairly flying, at times lapping back to see where the Slowski's (that would be us) were. Two track climbing up and up, dodging at times the hikers and stollers, mountain bikers racing back down the long extended climb we finally come to the Obenberg See (Lake).
That tiny blue spot you could barely see over the tops of the trees as you hiked and biked up up stair steps. Oh did I mention hike? Hike a bike? Push a bike? Push a bike up a running creek? Why is Alex barely breathing while the Slowski's are gasping for breath? Maybe it was because we were now hiking at 45% and our bikes our on our shoulders.
All along the way the route is marked, as is every hiking or biking trail in Austria. Painted on rocks or trees the Austrian flag in red and white, or the route number with blue and white, identifies the trail or where you are. Signs are posted at crossroads of trails pointing in the various directions with the villages or destinations accompanied by the amount of walking time that it will take to get there.
Up and up we climb with the small speck of bright blue sky peeking out from the trees, beckoning us up and onwards. Climbing up steps, climbing up singletrack that are really small creeks, always with Alex calling us on, waiting at the top of the a switchback far, far above.
Finally we are rewarded with attaining the saddle and the view of the Obenberg See, far down the valley and the arduous hiker/biker climb we had just finished. Upon arriving at the top, we found Alex sleeping in the Alm (meadow) in the saddle, apparently lulled asleep by the long wait and the sweet sounds of the cowbells in summer pasture.
|The Tyrolean Superhero prods the cyclist along with his foot to get moving. Port Joch can been seen far in the background.|
At the top of Joch we crossed over into Italy and began a wonderful rolling single track. On the edge of the Stubai mountain range, 2700 feet straight down to the valley floor, we rode centimeters from the edge. Like flying we rode along, on the edge of the world, clouds out in the distance. Looking down you felt like your were being pulled out into space. Singletrack happiness. Mountain biker dream. All led by our friend, Alex. Some days you just get plain lucky. Darn lucky. You get an Alex in your life.
We were riding along the very edge of Italy and Austria, meeting every so often the barricks and buildings of Italy in their attempt to protect their borders. First starting after WWI and then reinforcing in WWII, the myriad of embattlements and fortesses begged exploring. At one point Alex stopped to explore as did Lowell however someone else ( me?) had Sufferfest going and it was stop and finish the trip kilometers before the end, or just keep climbing.