Bike trip continued: first taste of the Alps
After spending days endlessly going up and down the rolling hills across Germany and slogging through miserable conditions, today would mark a new phase of the journey as I transitioned into the Alps. The mountains, having hidden from me yesterday, proved to be well worth the effort.
The start was a little worrying. The still, cold air and dampness from the previous rain formed into a thick, ominous fog. I felt like I was in a haunted land as I rode out of Weilheim and started climbing into the foothills proper. Visibility was extremely poor; trees loomed like ghosts, blurry and formless. Even on straight roads, I heard cars before I saw them approach. The frost covering the ground started spreading onto me too, with the front of my sweater coated in a thin layer of frigid particles.
Worst of all, my well ventilated running shoes were not suited for the circumstances. The icy air entered and my toes felt like they were freezing up. I would wiggle my toes and I’d feel pain, but it was important to make sure I could at least feel something.
Eventually, I climbed above the fog layer, reaching the village of Murnau at an elevation of about 700 meters. And finally, the peaks in the distance revealed themselves. What an astonishing sight! I knew I had to invade someone’s field and take some bike pictures.
With access to the sun, I thawed out quickly as well and continued riding to the edge of the country. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, one of the last towns in Germany, was a picturesque representation of the Bavarian Alps. From there, I launched up one of the steepest and longest climbs of the day, enjoying soaring views of the valley below and mountains above. This section was quiet too because the highway entered a tunnel straight through the mountain. I noted that there was a bike path closure on the approach to Klais, but, having no alternative, I just ignored the fence and it was all fine, no construction or issues with the path so I’m not sure why the closure.
The border crossing itself occurred on the climb out of Mittenwald. This road led up to Leutasch, squatting on a plateau at around 1100 meters. Gradually climbing across the open area, I crossed the highest point of the day at about 1250 meters.
From this point, it was a dizzying descent down a daringly steep road into the valley below. In mere seconds I saw my speed hit over 50 kph from a standstill. My ears were overloaded with the roaring wind and the air pressure change. I’m very glad I had a mechanic fix up my brakes before I set off!
Touching down in Telfs, it was a straight forward ride along the otherworldly turquoise river Inn all the way to Innsbruck. While the entire way had a smooth paved bike path, this path was sandwiched between a loud highway and rows of trees which blocked sight of the river. Afterwards I heard the other side of the river might be nicer.