Woke up to a beautiful Alpine morning, and headed down for breakfast. The Sun shone from clear blue sky over the wood clad pass. A Sunny morning is never wrong, definitely not when out on an adventurous ride!
The restaurant and breakfast area in Hotel Kornock has a very pleasant atmosphere. Took seat at a table, leaned back and checked weather reports while coffee was served. I am not generally a breakfast person, but while on holiday, travel or adventures, it’s a different situation.
Sketches of a Alpine plan – Grossglockner
The weather report suggested it would be possible to avoid rain, at least over Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse (High Alpine Road). This was my main target for the day. Towards the late afternoon things were a bit more uncertain, in some regions showers could occur.
I studied Google maps to get a better idea of the options. It looked like riding from south to north, and then either take another pass or some smallways back south later, was the best alternative. More so as I had in mind to ride in the Dolomites. Maps suggested ca 3 hours ride to Grossglockner (plus stops) if I didn’t get too creative on road choices.
One cannot not let the weather control everything. Less in the month of July which of late have turned more and more into some hybrid sort of a rain season. Bought a new Rukka suit this year, supposed to be weather proof and watertight. But absolutely not in a hurry to find out exactly how waterproof.
Time to move westwards
I headed down road towards the village Reichenau and continued to Winklern. Which is pretty close to the Italian border. The traffic wasn’t bad, so I decided to stay on the same road, and get closer to the Grossglockner High Alpine road starting point not too late.
The excitement grew with sight of higher Alpine mountains. Didn’t stress though, roads were a pleasure to ride on and the surroundings worth taking in.
From valleys and mountains to Lake Millstatt.
Road 107 towards Grossglockner
It was getting close to lunchtime when the landscape started to get really interesting. Alpine mountains were frequently clear in sight. Weather was great, even if overcast, roads were great, temperature in the valley fluctuated between 25 and 28C.
At Winklern I took the 107 towards the mountains. From the map I knew the ascent towards Grossglockner was soon to begin.
Where the climbing begins
A little further in, the road began to climb, gentle at first, steeper later on. Twisty enough to be exhilarating and fun to ride. On roads like these you don’t really have to push it to feel the excitement of being on two-wheels.
I felt like a little kid riding up towards the mountains. There’s something about that, the feeling of riding up towards mountains. Definitely more powerful when riding a motorbike instead of car. Not only due to the physical presence but a power, an earthly power, a form of energy that always have gotten me excited.
Made frequent stops to capture the experience “on reel”, as good as possible, sometimes getting off the bike, sometimes not. The road now split into two, one leading up to the viewpoint & Kaiser Franz Josef Höhe, and ending there. The other crossing the mountain.
Decided to first head up to the viewpoint and return later.
The Viewpoint – spectacular & touristy
Coming up to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe you’re greeted with fantastic vistas, in almost all directions. It’s not difficult to understand why that particular spot had been chosen for a viewpoint.
There are plenty of parking spaces for motorcycle riders, which is good because in high season this place certainly is a destination for many. The architecture of the newer buildings seem rather brutally planted into the mountain side. Perhaps low maintenance but pretty it isn’t, rather the opposite.
Thought it strange one had not been more mindful of the clash potential, and/or used materials to mellow or dampen the presence of the concrete slabs.
This did however not diminish nor destroy the spectacular views, the mountains and the nature itself. Got off the bike to wander a bit, find some nice view places. One can venture down a track of a glacier lake in the deep valley. Quite a climb and nothing for solo motorcyclist with lots of gear to mind.
Seen and digested decided to head back down the few miles to the road split, and follow the 107 which is the Grossglockner high alpine road across the mountain. The traffic had begun to get more dense but I had expected worse. Down at the fork, turning left and up towards the pass.
Onwards on Hochalpen Strasse – Hochtor
The mountainous show, pleasantly spiced up with lots of alpine twists and turns, kept on up to the Hochtor tunnel. The tunnel sits at the highest point on the road. Across its opening one can read, in latin “In te Domine Speravi”.
Taken from an early Christian hymn known as Te Deum, it means “In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped.” From what I know it was put there as a wish/prayer for a safe journey. All depending on season and time for crossing I can certainly appreciate one would put it there.
On the other side of the mountain/tunnel new beautiful views opened up, while the roads snaked itself along mountains side, across chasms
I had now delayed lunch till almost dinner, fueling the physical holster was well overdue. Made a quick stop the the Edelweißhütte a little bit further. To get there you just take off from the Alpine road and ride twists up to to the top where the restaurant is.
Weather change – time to head down
The road up to the Edelweißhütte is made of cobblestone, with lots of sharp bends and turns. Ok to ride when dry, not so ok when wet. Few things are more slippery for motorcycle tires than wet cobblestone.
The weather was all of a sudden changing, and changing fast. Seeing the prospects for heavy showers from across the mountains, I gulped down the remaining coffee, stuffed my face with the last sandwich piece, and hurried to my bike. Got safely down and continued towards the valley north.
Coming down from the mountains it was evident my luck was running out. The question now was how bad it would get, and how soon.
Towards Kitzbuhel – monsoon showers
Took the 168 towards Mittersill and from there 161 towards Kitzbuhel. This route did at first appear to spare me from the worst showers. I could not possibly have been more wrong. Nearing the alpine town the heavens opened up and let loose the heaviest shower I had experienced for the whole year.
Upside – although my suit got wet in the outer layer it stayed dry in the inner. So it stood the test. Took shelter under roof at a gas station while waiting for the worst to pass. it was now 6:30pm so it was time to start thinking about shelter for the night.
Looked online to see if there were any places worth trying. Hotels exists in abundance, rode across the city a few times but could not make up my mind. Trying to think economical I decided to head out of town, the notion was prices would not be so steep if out of Kitzbuhel.
Kirchberg – the end of the day/leg
About 10 minutes ride out of town there’s the little village Kirchberg. Roadside I saw a few options, Alpenresidenz Adler sounded good. But of course, having booked nada I could be unlucky. Fortunately they were not full, got a decent deal on room + breakfast. The hotel was very nice, a typical classical old fashioned Austrian Alpine family hotel. You could tell it was owned with pride.
The standard was great, food was great, room was great and pretty huge. Got a parking space by the family residence to keep the motorbike off and away the main street. Ate well, had a few beers and chatted for some hours with a group of German motorcyclists before crashing out. That was the end of another long, and eventful day.