Alps - Retrospective
During the first five days the cycling hadn't been super exciting. It rained a lot and was windy, also we cycled more than 10% extra because the bicycle paths were horribly indicated in Germany. On the sixth day, we cycled 194 km along the Bodensee. On the seventh day, we climbed the first Alp pass. The eighth day had two tough passes. On the 9th, we arrived in Italy, with the Gavia pass in the evening. That climb in the dark and the camping in the wild afterward felt for me like the actual start of the vacation. We also experienced a lot more in the days after that. On the 10th day, we climbed the Stelvio and lost each other the entire afternoon. The eleventh day was tough because we had to climb three passes. On day 12, the route was way more challenging than expected. It rained immensely the entire day, making even us hide in a hotel around 6 o'clock. On the 13th, we were well-rested and cycled 169 kilometers until we needed to sleep in someone's rat-infested shed because of the rain. On day 14, we cycled 194 km, with an unexpectedly tough pass near the end. Day 15 was much racing until the foot of the Timmelsjoch, or so we thought. On day 16, we first climbed the Jaufenpass, after which we started the most strenuous climb of the vacation, the Timmelsjoch. On day 17, the route was easier than expected, which was nice because we were exhausted. On day 18, we left the Alps and planned a shorter route home. Day 19 involved cycling 186 km and camping near a haunted factory. Day 20 was the longest, 227 km, of which 100 were passed along the Rhine. Finally, day 21 was the last day. We reached 600 km in the final three days and more than 3400 km during the entire trip.
The weather was much worse on this trip than during our previous vacations. Only our Black Forest cycling trip came close regarding the amount of rain. The part in Germany had again the worst weather this time. We had rain on 2/3 of the days, and on the days it didn't rain, the weather was usually still far from sunny.
The route Jorien and her dad had planned was very nice. Especially the Bodensee, Stelvio, the entire Italy section, and the Timmelsjoch had beautiful views. The less mountainous sections s were usually hard to follow because of the many roads and small villages. On days 7 to 17 we climbed mountain passes, except on day 13. Day 12 was the day we stayed in the hotel. From there onwards, we averaged 179 km per day.
The purple line is the planned route. Red and blue represent the days cycled.
The day numbers are indicated as well.
The distances we cycled each day
We visited the following countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. In total, we crossed borders 18 times. Belgium was easier than expected in terms of finding the route. Germany was the worst we have ever experienced. The bicycle paths led nowhere, and it was raining non-stop. Switzerland was lovely, but the food was relatively expensive. Austria was excellent as well; we could navigate easily everywhere. Italy was better than we had expected, both in terms of the people and the ease of cycling. It also was beautiful. Slovenia was different than the other countries, but not as much as I had expected. We were able to find food and, although it is a bit poorer than some other European countries, it's not horrible. With a good map, it is possible to ride some nice routes through the small villages. The Alps are pretty similar between countries. People speak German everywhere, and it all looks pretty similar, although very beautiful. On one day, we were even unsure which country we were in.
I liked my bike. Its front suspension was sometimes hindersome when climbing, but because of it I didn't have any sore back or shoulders. Nothing broke on my bike except my panniers, which I can still fix. In terms of clothing, we can still improve. Waterproof socks (sealskinz) would be a nice addition. I will also buy a gore-tex rain jacket next time. We could have kept cycling with better rain gear even on the day we stayed at the hotel. With so much rain, a tent is probably also nicer than a bivy bag, although those are more visible when camping in the wild. While our bivy bags are waterproof and breathing (they are made of gore-tex), we sometimes had to pick between breathing and getting wet or staying dry and suffocating in our horrible smell.