st. Gotthard

Monday, April 30, 2007


It's hot here, even if it's only end of April. I am already burnt on my arms and face. I didn't feel good in the morning - probably I'm pushing too hard, beyond my abilities. Today it was flat and easy until the start of Arlberg pass where a storm caught me and I waited an hour and half for it to pass. I had execlent weather until now. After Arlberg there was a big descent in the dark valley with quite few tunnels, but I didn't want to catch the storm again, so I stopped for a beer and to dry up. I can't manage the rain - it's unsolvalble problem for me.

Day 4: 136 km, 6h 48 min.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Austria is a nice country to cycle. The roads are good, the drivers considerate and the eastern wind is very helpfull, especialy if you are heading toward Switzerland. But one thing could be improved: the availibility of the internet. I had to wait for 3 days to get to one and to pay much more expensive accomodation in big town instead of really pleasant and cheep Ladhaus in some peacefull village under an ubiquituous mountain. Today would end in uneventfull spinning if after about 120 km, at the foot of small ascent my left peddal fell off. As I didn´t take the pedal spanner (as a result of weight saving) I thought that it ment a serious disruption of this tour. However, I was more then happy to notice that pedal had a hole for the allen key, which I had on me, so in 10 minutes everything is back in order. We shall se if the pedal will last till Gotthard.

Day 3: 164 km, 7h 05min.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse should be opened right today this year. A fine way to start another legendary cycling day. I was warming up for the first flat 30 km up to the start of the first pass - Iselberg, it´s about 8 km and quite difficult. Then it was going down partly on roads and partly on radwegs that followed idyllic streams away from the road and the traffic.

Just before Heiligenblut it really starts without introduction. Steep road goes relentlessly up and up. I was not helped with my 42-teeth front ring and especially 24-teeth largest cog. But that´s the way I choose it to be, so I can´t complain. It is also a way to climb the pass, even though I don´t recommend it and won´t repeat it again myself. Briefly, it was pedaling hard for 100 to 500m, then stopping to catch a breath, then repeat. The pass up to the Hochtor at 2504 m is 21 km long, I have broken it with another side pass to Franz Josef Hohe, where the sight of Grossglockner glacier is somewhat sad: the glacier is visibly shrinking and is not a shadow of its past glory. Last 6 km I was cycling (or struggling) between walls of snow high up to 4 m.

On the way down it was squeezing the brakes all the time, more so because there was real danger that a marmot would run under my wheels. There are a number of them sitting right by the road, probably waiting for handouts from sympathetic tourists.

Day 2: 108 km, 6h 49 min.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jesenice - Oberdrauburg

This tour I started directly from home. It was not something I am used to, so I missed two early trains to Jesenice (the starting point in Slovenia). By the time I started cycling it was practically noon. The eastern wind was helping me - from the Italian border on I was just coasting effortlessly and everything seemed ridiculously easy. There was a price to pay for it after 60 km - with the start of passo del Pramollo (Nassfeldpass). A real pass of 13 km and at the altitude of 1500 m it felt pretty cold. There were few tunnels too, one of them I cycled in total darkness. The roads I took in Austria were rather narrow and I was a bit nervous with all this traffic moving past me. After another smaller Plockenpass I came to Oberdrauburg and found a nice pension. I couldn't fall asleep for long - probably the Grossglockner was haunting me.

Day 1: 126km, 6h 15min

Friday, April 13, 2007

On the road again !

I have an old road bicycle from Peugeot factories with "St. Gothard" written on the top tube. It already has a curious history of its own. Back in 1998 I purchased it second hand in Aachen, rode it to work there for three months (with short trips to Belgium and Netherlands) and then left it in friend's basement with the intention of coming back for another working year. This, however, had never realized. Seven years later I had a business meeting in Dusseldorf. The bike had changed the owner since, but my German friends helped me to track it down in a friend's friend's garage and take it home to Slovenia. The following February, on one of the coldest days of the year, it was stolen in front of my office. But I somehow felt it was not lost forever. Indeed, one month later I caught a youngster riding it and a casual mention of the police persuaded him to give me the bike and continue on foot.

I am still riding it to work despite the fact that
its age is starting to show. So, before it totally falls apart I think it deserves the grand finale at it's birthplace - the top of Gotthard pass. That's where I am heading end of April.