Day-17: I've heard a rumour that Austria is a bit hilly - The Hills are Alive (with the sound of wheezing) - CycleBlaze

Day-17: I've heard a rumour that Austria is a bit hilly

Where to go?

I really do love mountains. I can live without the sea, endless forests, or vibrant cityscape; but mountains I really do miss. We don't have any around here - sure, the landscape rolls and undulates, and you can find a mean gradient even in Bedfordshire - but southern England is fundamentally a gentle place.

What this means is while I love looking at them, I am rather less experienced at cycling around (or in unfortunate cases, over) them. Previous highlights have included picking a route directly over a 1000m climb because it "looked more direct" (Shauinsland, in the Black Forest, 2018) and, um, carrying the bike and luggage, in several trips, up an impassably steep slope in Poland (last year) because I have a psychological aversion to turning back.

This perhaps does not bode well for the real Alps which I seem, against all expectations, to be headed for. I originally toyed with hare-brained schemes of working my way across the country north-to-south - perhaps to Slovenia, or over the Brenner pass to Italy. 

A glance at one of my favourite route planning tools - the OpenTopoMap - shows why. England gets the occasional whisp of tan, indicating a few hills, but is basically green. Western Austria is a solid block of no-nonsense dark brown (nowhere in Europe breaks into the elevated white of the Himalayas. I really like it when topographical colour scales do that - it's a bit of a "goes to 11" effect). 

Fortunately, my discovery of the ease of Vienna-German transport means I have the option of heading East, along the valleys and mountain ranges, to finish up in the lowlands (topo green!) around Vienna. This also opens up the possibility of diversions to Hungary and Slovakia, which could be fun (actually Hungary may be off the table as they still have virus restrictions for the UK. Also, the political situation in Hungary has degraded to the point where it is a de facto one-party state - which makes me, perhaps irrationally, reluctant to visit). 

So this gives me a sketch of a plan. An MS paint scribble, really. But it should be (i) roughly 1000km or less and (ii) not murderously hilly, unless I really want it to be.

Piece of cake, right?
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Stop press! Since arranging my tickets I now have an extra day. 14 full days of touring means I can probably be more ambitious. Maybe even reach Slovenia. Slovenia is a lovely place, a real gem of a country. Hmmm....

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Rachael AndersonWe loved Slovenia when we were there!
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5 months ago
Tricia GrahamLast year as part of our tour we rode the Alpes Adria We started in Munich and rode to Saltzburg Then it was a magical ride from there to Grado - if you love mountains its the ride for you and very manageable
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5 months ago
Jon AylingTo Rachael AndersonIt's a great place! Been almost ten years since I was last there, and keep meaning to go back.
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5 months ago
Jon AylingTo Tricia GrahamThanks Tricia, very keen to learn about good routes - particularly if they avoid massive climbs!
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5 months ago
Tricia GrahamTo Jon AylingI really recommend that route - the mountains are spectacular and it is not too steep -you go over the pass to the other side in a train (no road) We were both over 80 when we did it so that tells you about the difficulty. My blog about it is on cycleblaze - Munich to Paris the long Way Round
Wish we were cycling in Europe!
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5 months ago
Kathleen ClassenInnsbruck by train to Brenner (super short and sweet and cheap) and then down the Claudia Augusta is your ticket to magical bike touring land. And pretty much downhill. We have done it twice (both times the other way, so climbing) but even then it is so manageable and our all time favourite route:
https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/pokingaroundeurope5/trento-gorgeous-day-gorgeous-track-gorgeous-scenery/
Of course we loved Slovenia too, and pretty much everything we have done. Since we are home in Canada we are so delighted to have your blog to read. We are really missing bike touring this year!!
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5 months ago