Distance cycled in period : 254 km. Overall : 1,344 km
Wow. What a few days of cycling. I’ve spent the last week riding along the Via Claudia Augusta cycle path that connects Donauworth in Southern Germany with either Venice or Verona in Northern Italy. This is an historical trading route that cuts through the Alps in impressive fashion, dating back to Roman times. It was originally constructed to allow horse drawn wagons to pass along the important trading route between the rivers Po and Danube.
The night before setting out onto this epic journey, I booked an airbnb room in an Austrian family’s home. The hosts were in retirement age but still absolutely bossing life. The wife had crossed over illegally from Eastern Berlin a year before the wall came down, and the adventurous spirit hadn’t waned much in the passing years. They told me of one occasion where their absolute joker of a guide got lost on a Chilean guided trek, and they ended up in the Atacama desert for a whole night wearing only t-shirts and thin trekking trousers. They survived the night by lighting the local tumbleweed that didn’t so much burn as explode when introduced to heat.
Over the last five days, the weather has been variable to say the least. Rain, sleet, snow and yes, heavy snow have all been my riding partners for my cycling assault on the Alps. I’ve tackled two major climbs in that time. The first was a 500m ascent up and well above the Fernpass. While the main road followed a steady ascent on beautiful tarmac and stopped climbing when the mountain finally relented, my private cycle path took on a variety of gradients ranging from manageable to faaark’s-sake, with the only constant being the horrendous road quality as I cycled over rocks, stones, loose gravel and wet mud the whole way up and 200 metres over the break in the mountain.
I had read before riding it that this section was definitely not suitable for heavily loaded touring bikes, and that I should just use the shuttle busses that run this section of the cycle path instead. But where’s the fun in that. Small doubts have started creeping into the Davidoff psyche though, since I was needing to stop at every bend in the road for a timely ‘photo break’. Slash breather. I’d have thought after this much cycling my strength and fitness might be at a pretty good level, but apparently I’m not the finished article quite yet. Legit rankings of the very best online gambling sites for 2019. Our experts rate and review the top options for sports bettors and casino players. List of the best online gambling sites reviewed by experts. Top online casinos and sports betting sites thoroughly tested for safety and payout speeds. GamblingID.com Compares the UK’s Best Online Gambling Sites and Games. Independent product reviews & exclusive sign up offers. FREE promo codes Reviewed, tested and approved by our team Last updated May 2019.
The second serious climb, “Reschen pass”, drops down briefly crossing the Swiss border into Martina before climbing a hearty 600 metres to the Austrian town of Nauders. And it was an absolute dream. The weather was gorgeous for the first time in a week. The gradient was steady and do-able. Road surface grippy. And the road signs even counted down the hairpin corners for me on my way up. Though best of all, at the bottom I met three Swiss cyclists about to tackle the same climb. You know the type – probably spent the first ten years of their lives outdoors skinning goats and building shelters before I’d fully, 100% nailed on my potty training.
Small backpacks were the only luggage they were hauling up the climb so I gave myself a cheeky head-start. Inevitably they started gaining on me, as one, then two passed me by, gawking at how much luggage I was carrying. But by the time I peaked the mountain, number three was still left in my wake. Quite what his two friends must have been thinking when they saw my ponderous bulk hauling past them at the top, and they’d still not seen their friend – we can only speculate.
Anyway, I can’t wait. I’ve got three blissful days of descending coming up before I’m back in civilisation and hopefully sunnier weather in Bella Italia. Watch this space.