Bellissimo! - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

October 12, 2019

Bellissimo!

Telfs (AU) to Scaives (IT)

Todays' math.  Take yesterday, add in a little more elevation gain, subtract the gravel and single track, add in perfect Italian paved bike paths and that's it.

I never thought I would write 'perfect Italian paved bike path', and anyone whose read any of our previous journals / blogs will have heard our stories from ~30 years ago about riding into Italy from various routes and wondering who stole the pavement as soon as you crossed the border. However, based on today's experience, and our short stint in '17 on the Ciclovia Alp Aidria, the Italians get top marks for making superb bike ways out of abandoned rail lines.

So what's to add from yesterday. Same blue sky, same perfect riding temps, same 'Sound of Music' feel to the whole Austrian half of the day. The only difference with respect to Austria is that from Innsbruck to the Brenner pass summit, about 35 km, they do not have a dedicated bike path. There is a 'bike route' on the eastern side of the Sill valley comprised of secondary roads, but there is still a reasonable amount of traffic on these roads (including a lot of other bikers - day trippers and roadies mostly).

The ride from Telfs to Innsbruck was a flat  30 km cruise along the Inn river on very nice bike paths. Once we hit Innsbruck and turned south to the Brenner pass though, we had a pretty steep and unrelenting climb for about 3 km where we gained about half of our total elevation. After that it was 'Sound of Music' cruising through the alpine plateau above the Sill river until the last 7 km of climb to the Brenner Pass summit.

This is one of the major crossing points in the Alps and it shows. There are rail yards, truck stops and container yards ... 'Outlet Stores' .... why would anyone shop at the top of a mountain pass???.  It is beautiful going up the pass, beautiful coming down, but a bit of a ..... what's Trump's line again?? ... at the top.

Quite a contrast on the Italian side ... all in a good way. As with most passes on the Italian side, the passes all get quite narrow and have a more gorge / canyon feel to them, with all of the road & train infrastructure packed into a tighter package. However, as noted near the start, the folks here have done a remarkable job in the last few years in adding first rate cycle route into the mix!

Once again, I'll let the pics add their thousands of words. Not many pics on the Italian side 'cause we were having fun flying down the pass and we were also pushing the light (again). Still ended up riding into our hotel in the dark but we had dedicated bike path to within 600 m of the hotel. Pretty sweet (and safe).

The only stain on the day was when we checked into the hotel (a 3 star with a restaurant) they informed us that they had just closed the kitchen. 

WTF!!

Most Italians don't even think about going for dinner until about half an hour after we arrived, but I guess this was a reminder that this is South Tirol, and while technically part of Italy .... well a closed kitchen at 7:30 says it all!

We did get our post ride bevy, a very nice mixed salad and plate of very good of bread, cheese and cold cuts, but I'm still a little peeved that they wouldn't even offer a bowl of hot pasta. I'll feel better about this in a few weeks. 

Maybe.

Overall, a small blot on an otherwise great and satisfyingly tiring day.

Song of the Day, I Can See Clearly Now , covered by Holly Cole.

Maybe a little predictable, but it was another glorious day and I've always loved this cover of the Johnny Nash classic.

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...another cloudless morning in the Alps!
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cruising along the Inn river towards Innsbruck
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Along the river in Innsbruck, we now head south and start climbing 700 m over Brenner pass
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We chose the route on the west side of the autoroute through Igls and Patsch. A bit of a steep grind out of the Inn valley to a high plateau above the Sill river that flows north from Brenner pass. Within 2 km's we were at the level of the Innsbruck Ski Jump tower (on the hill). The Autoroute is disappearing into a tunnel
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once again, stunning alpine pastures along the high plateau above the Sill valley
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looking west towards the glaciated peaks above Solden
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the views were spectacular in 360 degrees
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The Sill valley was starting to narrow as we were approaching Brenner pass near Steinach am Brenner
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getting close to the summitt. All of the roads and rail lines are starting to converge!
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Kirsten on the final push up to the summit
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This is a very busy pass with rail yards, container offloading ports, an autoroute, a couple of secondary highways, outlet shops ... not very scenic. Managed to fit in this shot of the summit marker (selective editing to get rid of all the cars on either side)
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the convergence of infrastructure on the south (Italian) side of the pass
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...luckily , they have converted an old rail bed into a PERFECT bike path all the way down the pass. Bellissimo!
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Once again we were pushing daylight on the way down, so not too many pictures ... safe to say through that this is what we were riding down all the way to Sciaves!
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buona notte!
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Today's ride: 118 km (73 miles)
Total: 1,647 km (1,023 miles)

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