Austria 2019

Sunday July 14, 2019
Kaunertaler Gletscherpanoramastraße

Monday July 15, 2019
Ötztaler Gletscherstraße

Tuesday July 16, 2019
Timmelsjoch / Passo del Rombo

Today's goal is the highest paved road in the Alps
Ötztal Glacier Road / Ötztaler Gletscherstraße AT 2830m 1462m vertical 12.1km
from Sölden, Austria 1368m / 4,477'
Ötztaler Gletscherstraße is short with only about 15km and 8 turns, but it is brutally steep.
The road up to the ski area was completed in 1972.

Today's forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain this afternoon.
I got up early, checked out, and spent about 75 minutes driving to Sölden

2019/07/15 09:17

Heading south on 186 towards Sölden, maybe 20 minutes away from the start of my ride.
My climb is in the mountains ahead on the right.
The weather looks more threatening than promising

2019/07/15 10:10

Sölden is a ski area that turns into a mountain biking mecca in the summer.
There wasn't much of a town, it was a ski resort stretched along the highway.
I noticed a huge parking lot and parking garage next to the base of ski lift, I decided that would do, but I kept driving to find the turnoff to my ride.
The road got steep quickly, my turn was maybe 300 meters up the hill.
I turned around and parked, and looked for cycling snacks at the ski rental places that are now bike shops in the summer.
I didn't find any snacks I was interested in, so I got on the bike and started uphill.

2019/07/15 10:10

climb starts up this road

I really couldn't believe how steep this beast was.
I tried not to slow down or stop because getting started again was not fun.
I saw lots of mountain bikers in the trees below the road, but there was very little traffic on the road and almost no other cyclists after the first kilometer or so.

Turn 4 - 1875m
this is the last time you are near this ski area, you go around this mountain to get to the top.
Will mentions that it takes nearly an hour to get from turn 4 to turn 5.

Kaunertal started with turn 29 at the bottom and ended with turn 1 at the top.
This road starts with turn 1 at the bottom and ends with turn 8 at the top.

2019/07/15 11:32
After 80 minutes I got high enough I could see most of the road up to the glacier.

2019/07/15 11:33

After I left all the mountain bikers behind down low on the mountain I only saw a handful of other cyclists today including these two.
Two road bikers passed me, one in full Team Ineos gear - I suspected he was a real member of the team since the team is so new and he was such a good climber.
(Team Ineos, formerly Team Sky, is considered by many to be a team full of cheaters, just like the New England Patriots, the team everyone loves to hate)

2019/07/15 11:37

The road was closed!
Fortunately I'd seen a bus drive down the dirt road on the other side of the valley, so I realized that must be the detour.
Presumably if I read German the signs would have told me the same thing.
I turned around, went back down, then started up the dirt road.
The dirt road was one way with traffic lights at each end, I just started up hoping for the best.

2019/07/15 11:47
Here comes the bus and a car - I got way out of their way.

2019/07/15 12:06

I regained the paved road and eventually got to turn 5 - 2335m.
460 meters of vertical between turns 4 and 5.

2019/07/15 12:07

2019/07/15 12:13

2019/07/15 12:22

2019/07/15 12:22
Turn 7

2019/07/15 12:25

2019/07/15 12:25

2019/07/15 12:25
Turn 8

I was high enough now I was downright cold.
I wasn't wet and it wasn't windy, but the frozen air fell off the glacier and numbed my hands.

2019/07/15 12:45
Rettenbach glacier
It didn't look like a great ski area, it looked way too steep.

2019/07/15 12:45
The north / low end of Rosi Mittermaier Tunnel - 1729m long
The other end of the tunnel is the highest paved road in the Alps
The air was just icy now.
Even the tunnel is crazy steep, 11% average gradient.

2019/07/15 12:45

PANO - scroll right

2019/07/15 12:48
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
The tunnel is steep, straight up through 1.2km, poorly paved but not awful, and reasonably well lit..

2019/07/15 13:08

I made it!
The highest paved road in the Alps!
I've climbed 9 of the 10 highest paved roads in the Alps!
My knees hurt and my fingers are numb cause glaciers are cold!
That is crazy steep!
and my helmet is crooked!

The exit to the tunnel over my head is the highest paved road in the Alps - 2830m
The ski lift above it more or less follows the path of the tunnel.
I didn't celebrate there, I waited to celebrate properly with food and drink at the Tiefenbach Glacier ski area in this parking lot just below

I locked up the bike and looked for a place to eat.
I finally realized that the rest rooms and ski lift entrance were the only things open in the main building.
The unheated outbuilding next to it has a cash only bar and snack bar.

This ride was almost nearly car free..
ok, there were buses, construction vehicles, and a couple dozens cars and maybe a dozen motorcycles, but generally i was very alone and it was excellent

2019/07/15 13:19

2019/07/15 13:20

PANO - scroll right

2019/07/15 13:29
Coke and goulash soup.
No beer at lunch today - when I got down, I still needed to drive at least an hour over Timmeljoch to get to San Leonardo in Passiria
I didn't spend long on top, it was too chilly and my fingers were not thawing.
I was just very happy to get up without getting rained on.

Pretty empty up here
Maybe only about 5 staff members and 20 guests total.

2019/07/15 14:00

2019/07/15 14:00

PANO - scroll right

This shows how the road splits
The more direct road drops down maybe 20m in front of the hill and bypasses Rettenbach, the other road goes around the lake in back of the hill.
I took the "direct" road up, and the lake loop in front of Rettenbach glacier on the way down

2019/07/15 14:05

turn 8

2019/07/15 14:05

view from turn 8

2019/07/15 14:07
view from turn 8

2019/07/15 14:08
view from turn 8

2019/07/15 14:09
view from turn 8

PANO - scroll right

I was really pleased with Ötztal Glacier Road
I had pretty low expectations.
It was prettier than I had expected
Visibility was pretty good.
I didn't get rained on.

It didn't take long to get down, put the bike in the car, and start driving over Passo del Rombo / Timmelsjoch into Italy, the road I intended to bike up tomorrow.

2019/07/15 15:34

this clown peeled out
a little while later I saw him trying to figure out what was wrong with his car.
seemed to be a pair of young rich kids without a clue

2019/07/15 15:37
the toll booth / Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum
I had to pay 18 euros just to drive over this pass
I did not stop at the motorcycle museum

2019/07/15 15:37
Looking south / uphill from the toll booth / motorcycle museum

2019/07/15 15:38
PANO - scroll right
Looking southwest toward Overgurgl from the toll booth / motorcycle museum

2019/07/15 15:38
Looking southwest toward Overgurgl from the toll booth / motorcycle museum

2019/07/15 15:39
Looking north back toward Sölden from the toll booth / motorcycle museum

2019/07/15 15:39
Looking northwest toward the ski area I'd just biked up from the toll booth / motorcycle museum

2019/07/15 16:53
There were relatively few hotels and restaurants on tripadvisor in San Leonardo in Passiria.
Das Bergland had a pool and was centrally located.
It was somewhat dated but it was certainly fine.

2019/07/15 17:01

2019/07/15 17:01

2019/07/15 17:28
view from my room

2019/07/15 17:54

2019/07/15 17:58

I walked downhill to find dinner

2019/07/15 19:03

Bacon, spinach, and cheese dumplings in brown butter and parmesan
I'd had similar dumplings before in this area, they are buttery heaven...

According to tripadvisor the best (and one of the very few) restaurants in San Leonardo in Passiria is Sportsarena Passeier
I enjoyed the perfect meal to cap off a successful day of cycling
The forecast for tomorrow was for sunny skies, I was psyched!

2019/07/15 19:47
Italian bowling has smaller balls with no holes, and smaller pins as well

2019/07/15 19:48

An impressive climbing gym

Sunday July 14, 2019
Kaunertaler Gletscherpanoramastraße

Monday July 15, 2019
Ötztaler Gletscherstraße

Tuesday July 16, 2019
Timmelsjoch / Passo del Rombo