Lienz, Austria to Innsbruck, Austria

Day 88 – Tuesday 20/07
Lienz, Austria to Heiligenblut – 43kms Total 4133kms

We woke up at 06:00 and were on the road by 07:15. The ride into and out of Lienz was smooth but soon after we started this monster climb to 1204m to Iselsberg. That was a real wake up call for what was to come. On the other side of the hill there was a very steep downhill and that’s when we ran into this Polish family of three who were cycling from Poland to Venice, we had a quick chat about the road ahead and what they could expect than parted ways. They gave us a good tip about this cycling path up to Heiligenblut, the (R8) cycling path which we followed, thanks again guys.
The whole R8 route was great and with great views, except the final 4/5kms just before Heiligenblut which was really tough, again at the end of the day.
At Heiligenblut we saw the start of the real climb and it seems very steep and narrow with many cars, trucks and busses going on it.
We also looked down to the only camping were we thought off having a rest day at before tackling this monster climb but decided to take a room and leave the next day. It was the right decision because when we went to the tourist office for information about a room we mentioned to the girl about the busy road over the pass and she suggested we take the old road for part of the way which didn’t have any cars.
So that settled it we took a nice room for the night and tomorrow we tackle the Grossenglockner.

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Early morning on the 107a near Debant.

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On the 107 near Goriach, looking down at Lienz and the valley (center picture) we rode down. Click to view larger.

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Near Iselsberg, looking back.

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Leaving Osttirol.

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Pass Iselsberg. Click to view larger.

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Leaving Winklern on the 107.

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Finding the R8 cycling route was easy.

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One of the many mountain streams we crossed.

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Just great cycling, one side of the river is the cycling path, the other side the 107.

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Many opportunities to stop and cool off. And no we didn’t drink it 🙂

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Looking back down at the 107 we were following. It was hard work to get up here.

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We lost some elevation before the final climb to Heiligenblut.

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Some nice waterfalls along the way.

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And a bit of off-road cycling.

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Soon after the real climbing began.

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Our first view of the Grossglockner mountain, (snow-covered peak).

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Close up.

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We still had more climbing to do before reaching our goal for the day.

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Finally relaxing with some drinks with the Grossglockner in the background.

Day 89 – Wednesday 21/07
Heiligenblut to Fusch – 42kms Total 4175kms

The toughest day of the tour by far. We got up and were on the road by 07:30 and the climbing began immediately at 12% to 14%. The drinks we had the night before didn’t help but a kilometer or two on a 14% climb the alcohol was out of our system 🙂
We took the advice of the locals and took the old road which was great as there weren’t any cars to deal with. Also the views were great as the locals had said.
After a long while we reached the unpaved section of the road which at several points we had to walk because the gravel was loose and the steep angle of the road made it impossible to cycle. No problem we had all day to just get over the pass.
After some more climbing we reached the main road with plenty of traffic and immediately started with 14% and it reached much more (like 16%) on several long sections. I must say that on a loaded bike anything over 12% is extremely tough even with the lowest gears we have.
It is difficult to describe the feeling we had (several times during this climb) when we turn one corner and find ourselves looking up at another over 300m climb and all the traffic crawling up the steep road.
The views were fantastic though neither of us had ever cycled over such a high pass and all the mountains and the glaciers that were on their sides.
We passed the tree line and the snow line, YES, there was snow a couple hundred meters below us.
I’m really out of words to describe the sensations we felt, we had both given over 100% of ourselves to climb this mountain. At the top we stopped for a cup of coffee and pie 🙂
But once over the first peak we went through this tunnel and on the other side we saw that the road goes down two to three hundred meters and climbs back up to over 2400m at 14%. Now that was really tough. We never thought that this section would be so tough. Once we reached the second peak it started to rain.
The ride down the other side was treacherous to say the least with the steep grades and heavy rain. But slowly and with some on the road break adjustments we made it to Fusch were we looked for a room for the night.
The rain at over 2400, had made us cold to the bone and we were in no mood to pitch a tent. Just wanted to have a warm meal, several cold beers and a warm bed for the night.
We feel so proud of ourselves for this day, we actually had conquered the tough Grossenglockner at 2504m YEA!

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One of the first hairpins early in the morning.

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Looking back down at Heiligneblut.

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One of the many rest stops we had with the ever-present Grossglockner above.

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Lovely valleys below.

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The climbing got a little tougher once on the dirt track.

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But with views like this all the hard work was worth it. (Click to view larger)

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Looking back.

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Looking forward.

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And looking left.

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Our first view of the main paved road high above.

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We had lunch at the parking spot below before we started the serious climbing.

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Looking back down at the spot were we got on the main road.

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25 more hairpins to the top.

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Looking back at the valley leading to Heiligneblut.

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And the hard climbing continued. Click to view larger.

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Having another break. The next two pictures were taken by a German family and sent to us later.

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Continuing up the mountain.

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The views were just breathtaking. Click to view larger.

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No comment.

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At this point we were stopping at every turn.

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We had our second lunch at the hotel below.

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And one picture of our trusted steeds.

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Rounding the last turn before the top.

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The highest point we’ve ever ridden. We were so excited we forgot to take a picture of ourselves 🙂
But we had one more peak to conquer today 😉

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One last look at this side of the mountain.

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The top of this climb is a tunnel.

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And this is what greeted us on the other side. The other tunnel can just be seen as you follow the road.

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A close up of the previous picture. The road over the second peek can be seen more clearly.

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Looking North at the valley between the two peeks. Only hiking paths here no roads.

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Just before the second tunnel. Click to view larger.

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Plenty of Marmots running around.

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The final climb of the day. At this point we began to worry about the dark clouds forming. Click to view larger.

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And the top of the second pass at 2428 meters.

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And what views. Click to view larger.

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No comment.

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Finally we thought of taking a picture of ourselves at the top.

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The way down. Click to view larger.

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Looking back up. Click to view larger.

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We thought this side of the mountain seemed steeper. This was just before the rain started.

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We really had to stop often as the breaks could not hold us.

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Nice reminder, I did stop and readjusted our breaks as they would only slow us down.

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Another reminder. Very steep here it was very difficult to stop.

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Near the bottom my breaks overheated the front rim and I had a flat. I have never had this happen before.

Day 90 – Thursday 22/07
Fusch to Sankt Johann  – 72kms Total 4547kms

We started late thinking that today would be short, but ended up cycling most of the day. At first it was all downhill along quiet cycling paths to Zeller See and by the time we passed it the temperature was really climbing.
At Saalfelden we turned west on the B164, and by now the temperature had reached 41c. We knew that with such a high temperature rain would come so we wanted to find a good camping before the storm came.
At night we saw lightning in the distance and thought it might pass us by, but no luck, it rained that night and into the morning.
Camping here is not that good, its steep and has many biting flies, so the plan for tomorrow is to pack up and head off in search of another where we could rest for a couple of days.

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The nice B&B we stayed in. The building was very old with a lot of character and run by this really nice old lady.
It was a nice experience to have stayed in what could be described as a museum. If you come across it we recommend it for at least one night.

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Refilling our water bottles in Seller-Fusch.

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Just love these low gradient downhill rides.

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Nearing Schuttdorf.

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The very touristic Zeller See. There were a few people swimming but when we checked it out it felt very cold.

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The way to Saalfelden.

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After seeing this we knew there was something brewing.

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Some great views from the 164.

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Before Sankt Johann we came across a series of these beautiful wood carvings.

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Who ever carved these had some real talent.

Day 91 – Friday 23/07
Sankt Johan to Brixten – 27kms Total 4574kms

The day began with some clouds but as soon as we left at 10:30 it started to come down pretty heavy. It didn’t take long to get soaking wet through and through.
Just before Kitzbudel the rain stopped and the sun even came out but the camping at Kitzbudel was outrageously expensive at 34 euros so we continued on.
After a shortish ride to Brixen we found this nice camping, clean and reasonably priced at 15 euros.
As soon as we set up the tent it began to come down very heavy which made me go out and tie some guy lines to the tent as the storm got pretty bad.
Our good tent is leaking pretty bad now, and we need to look for another. It can handle some rain but definitely is not up to the job when it comes to storms.

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The weather was changing for the worst.

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And as soon as we pitched our tent it started to rain, and it lasted for two days.

Days 92 and 93 – Saturday and Sunday 24-25/07
Rest days in Brixten,

On the 24th it was rain rain and more rain. When it did slow for a bit we got out and got supplies for two days, tomorrow is Sunday and nothing open.
On the 25th the sun came out and it turned out to be a very nice day so we took the opportunety to do some chores and later in the evening we watched a couple of films.
We really needed these couple of do nothing days 😉

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The weather cleared a bit so I took a couple of pictures of the camping and surrounding hills.

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This really wasn’t a bad camping at €15.

Day 94 – Monday 26/07
Brixen to Innsbruck – 101kms Total 4675kms

Woke up at 06:00 and slowly got underway. We made it to the reception but unfortunately someone was already there, we were hoping to skip but ended up paying for 2 nights. We told him we were there for 2 nights instead of 3 so at least we saved 15euros.
The ride today was fantastic, it was a bit cold to start with but after a couple of  hours it warmed enough to take our sweaters off.
We followed nice cycling paths the whole day and out of the 101kms we maybe rode about 5kms next to cars. So it was a very enjoyable ride.
Camping here is ok with a shopping center near by.

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The day began a bit misty and cold. We also had a couple of descent downhills in the morning. Click to view larger.

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And the valley before Worgl was a real treat to ride along.

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The Inn river valley.

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The route was well posted.

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Having lunch along the Inn. We will end up cycling along the Inn upriver almost to its source.

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Just great cycling.

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With some nice castles.

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And a sign with the code of conduct for cyclists 🙂

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A lovely old bridge over the Inn.

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Nearing Innsbruck.

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And a picture of Innsbruck city center.

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The view from our tent at Camping Innsbruck-Kranebitten near the airport.

Lienz to Innsbruck was one of the best and most difficult rides we’ve ever done. Would we do it again? Hell Yea! Maybe not the same route as there is so much to see around here. This whole area is totally geared for cycling tourists and Hikers with most camping’s open year round as this is ski country. Since Venice this section of our tour (apart from Corsica) has been the most scenic so far.

Continue on from Innsbruck, Austria to Lake Geneva, Switzerland.