Alps - Day 16 : Timmelsjoch
We slept well but still woke up at 7:15. We got breakfast at the store. While eating the last of the Austrian bread we realized it also tasted a bit like anise. After our sturdy breakfast we were ready to go. We had studied the map thoroughly and knew today would be more challenging than we had initially thought. We knew there would be a pass before the Timmelsjoch, but we thought we would hardly descend before starting the Timmelsjoch. That wasn't the case. The first climb involved a 1000 meter elevation difference, then we went downhill to 600 meters only to begin climbing the 2600 meter high Timmelsjoch. That meant 3000 meters of elevation gain in one day. The first hour of the first climb went well but we knew we had to climb for another 5 hours today. There were many cyclists, most from a club from Tirol. They had nice red shirts. This first climb wasn't super challenging.
View from just before the top of the Jaufenpass
In the distance lies the Brennerpass
At the top of the Jaufenpass.
At the top, we spoke with some people from the Tirol cycling club. They were an amateur racing team and were training for three weeks for the toughest race in the Alps. The race involved four mountains. We would end up cycling three times as much during our three weeks of vacation as they did during their training.
Going down from this pass was quite fun. In the next village we needed to eat, the Timmelsjoch would take a few hours to climb and there were no stores along the way. I wanted some ice cream. Most stores didn't sell those separately. Eating three Cornettos a person is also doable, that way you also don't need to eat much else. After that healthy lunch we started the, on paper, most challenging climb of the vacation.
One and a half hours later we were still climbing. Only one cyclist had passed us, I think only a few people dared to climb this mountain. It was warm. Especially at the start, the sweat dripped down my face. We quickly ate a banana and apple and continued. We decided to eat the yogurts we had an hour later. After a long straight section, a set of hairpin turns came into sight. 'Oh no, that looks like at least another hour of climbing'. A bit further was a restaurant. It was time to fill up our water and eat a bit. By now we had been climbing for three hours. We took some photos. I inflated my new front tire some more. It had a bump, so every time my wheel made a full loop I would feel it. While climbing it wasn't that annoying, as my wheel would go around only slowly.
This is the valley we came from
View toward the West
More than an hour after the break we were both exhausted. The last few kilometers had been very steep. We also had been climbing for four hours. We stopped just before a tunnel to take pictures and catch our breath. According to the map we were almost at the top.
The tunnel was nearly level. After that it was one more kilometer of gradual climbing before we finally reached the top. It really had been the toughest climb of this vacation. There was some snow on top. We met another Dutch person who agreed to take our picture. In the past, he had cycled in the area with some club. Some day he wanted to repeat the route with his wife but at a slower pace.
2509 meters of elevation
It was hot enough to lie down in the snow, that's why this photo:
Bart in the snow
Bram in the snow
It was possible to walk up a few meters further uphill, from where we had a really nice view.
View from the summit of the Timmelsjoch.
We were very high up
On the cross was written in mirror image : "Schau auf die andere Seite".
This climb was so tough and nice that we wanted to have souvenirs. In the store I bought a plate with a depiction of the pass together with its elevation. Bram bought a hat, by now he had 6 of the most challenging climbs we had done this and last year. The way down involved a straight section about a kilometer long. It had an incline of 10%. I went very fast, within a few seconds I was going 65 km/h. After lying down I reached 87.7 km/h. Bram also reached 87 km/h. At that speed it gets very windy and your bike will only go straight.
After the very steep part down we needed to climb again for one kilometer before the actual descent started. We hadn't eaten in five hours so it was time to refill our energy storage. After shopping and eating for an hour we descended further. We covered much ground through the Ötztal. That is where they found Ötzi the snowman, a well-known mummy. The following day there would be three passes on the schedule. The further we cycled, the easier it would be the next day. In the village Nassereith was a campsite, directly before the next climb. The stars already pointed us towards Nassereith, this time it was the three stars of the campsite. In the village were a surprising amount of cats. We couldn't pay by card and we didn't have any cash left, so the following day we would first need to go to the village and find an ATM.
After a nice shower we sat down on my bivy bag to eat.
Distance cycled : 153 km.