The Mighty Austrian Alps

Austria and the Alps

As we crossed into Austria from Germany we were boxed in by mountains whilst we snaked along the valley floor. Everywhere we turned was a postcard view and the peaks of the jagged mountains looked imperious as well as
ominous. We found a restaurant who were happy for us to camp in their garden all we had to do was buy a couple of beers. Sold. In the middle of the night I got up and as I looked up the whole sky was lit up with stars. I swear they looked more vivid and bright than I had ever seen before.

The following day we had a tough morning in order to reach our friends, part of the Crawford clan, who have a chalet in Zell am See. I was tired and frustrated as the road ahead split. The shortcut, down into a tunnel meant for cars only and the longer way through a local town. I made a serious error of judgement. I chose the tunnel. As I was going down I was telling myself to just pedal hard and get through. A few hundred meters into the tunnel it got very dark and I heard something very large coming up behind me. Inside a tunnel the noise just builds as it reverberates with no where to go. With the noise rising like a crescendo and the tunnel seeming to get darker and darker panic began washing over me. I dared not turn around I just wanted to focus on keeping as far to the side of the narrow road as possible. When finally the huge lorry did pass me it came within a couple of inches and I genuinely don’t know if the driver saw me or not but he roared past me at great speed. This scared the shit out of me and I instantly stopped and got the bike onto the thin pedestrian path and walked the rest of the way. Lesson learnt. Nuff said.

We enjoyed some wonderful hospitality from Matt and Julie in Zell, spending

our time eating, drinking and being merry. Andy took a great video of himself jumping in the lake. It was great to have time out with friends and just relax. A couple of days passed quickly and soon we were saying our goodbyes and moving forwards again. Sad as it was to leave it felt good to be back in the saddle and making progress.

Whilst cycling in Austria the views were stunning however with cars zooming past on single lane roads we had to spend most of our time focusing on where we were going and worrying about the cars rather than absorbing the

stunning surroundings. After a long day we found a great spot to camp, secluded, lush flat grass, perfect except that it was a golf course. We went to a bus shelter to make our dinner (broccoli soup with powder mash to thicken it out – yum!), we also found a space age toilet that we used to wash in. It has an automatic, revolving seat cleaner, star wars style control panel and auto air freshener. The draw back was that there was no lock or light so as we cleaned ourselves in the dark, in the sink we prayed no one would open the door. Some poor Austrian would have had a mighty surprise had he disturbed either of us (the toilets did get more unusual in Austria when Andy was shocked to find a vending machine in one that sold travel pussy and sex gags!

Those crazy Austrians). After sundown we returned to the golf course and bedded down setting the alarm early so as not to surprise any early birds teeing off in the morning.

We rose and were greeted with a monstrous 12 mile climb with gradients over 10%. Eventually we made it to the ski resort of Obertauern at 1,738 meters and were informed of a local festival going on in Tamsweg so we decided to check it out. As with most Austrian or German gatherings it seemed to involve lots of people in fancy dress, lots of beer and lots of pig based food. We had an interesting couple of hours soaking up the ‘culture’ and met Michelle, a local expat who had just moved to the area.

Austria felt a little like groundhog day. Up and down, up and down, up and down, we could have been in a wild west whore house. Don’t get me wrong Austria was amazing and I had a love hate relationship with those mountains: I hated the uphill and loved the down! Sweating and swearing our way up those mighty Alps was a tough slog but the reward was almost indescribable. Flying down a mountain, head lowered over the handle bars to cut the wind resistance in a bid to set the TCD speed record is an immense feeling and one I shall never forget.

2 Responses to “The Mighty Austrian Alps”

  1. Adam says:

    Which vending machine item did you get the most use out of? It was the sex gags, wasn’t it?

    • djamcdonald says:

      Adam, when I caught up with them in Croatia they couldn’t stop talking about both these items. They told me the story of finding them, purchasing them (for a laugh, of course) and, shock of shocks, playing with them! Someone they met on their travels also told them about these vending machine items… At least they make Xmas shopping easy.

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