St Johann im Pongau to Bad Gastein - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 2 - CycleBlaze

September 3, 2018

St Johann im Pongau to Bad Gastein

All the Bads. But it’s not all bad- we have patches of sunshine and find the elusive youth hostel.

September 3rd Monday 57kms.

St Johann im Pongau to Bad Gastein. 

All the Bads. But it’s not all bad- we have patches of sunshine and find the elusive youth hostel.

 Great breakfast - definitely the best of the wurst, but muesli and yoghurt too. And lashings of coffee. Weather still chilly, but the sky has patches of blue as we start on the route to the various Gasteins. Leaving St Johann is easy and the pathway is smooth to Schwarzach. 

The strange tale of a blacksmith, a rooster and the devil who is despatched to the depths of the gorge.
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This climb takes cyclists up away from the road and rail down in the valley.
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Views, even on a cloudy day, are breathtaking- or was it just the climb?
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At Veit im Pongau
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After this the route involves steep climbs- the first up the side of the valley is granny gear grade but quite manageable. As we pause for a breather at the first plateau we meet a German couple whom we are to come across a few times over the next few days- I eventually find out they were travelling in NZ in March. At this point they are temporarily parting company- she to go back down to catch the train through the valley while he continues, like us, upwards and onwards. Later when we meet again, he assures me he managed to find her.

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We’d prefer not to be mixing it with that lot.
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As we ascend the valley the views of railway and motorway below become clearer and we appreciate the isolation afforded by our challenging climb. We eventually reach the reservoir- water is at a low level and nothing like the beautiful blue lake on the poster! We have a couple of descents, then up to Klamm. Habeck is above us at 2,700 metres. 

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Next come the 3 tunnels: the first, a taster, is short and cycles only and though it curves, well lit. Tunnel 2 is the biggie- nearly 2 kilometres long and though cyclists are safely separated, we share it with vehicles. It’s exhilarating but slightly scary because of the noise. This, we have been warned about, and stuff tissue in our ears to deaden the effect. It works, up to a point but the noise is still overpowering. The final tunnel is short.

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Our tissue in the ears stop.
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Past Klamm, we begin to feel the first of some spits of rain and this eventually develops into a fully fledged downpour. By the time we’ve entered Bad Gastein and started the final climb to the zentrum, our jackets are pretty wet, and though dry underneath, we’re a little chilly. There is yet another amazing sight on this day of amazing sights- a massive cascade of water running with all its force and noise, right through the middle of the town. This Wasserfall is at full volume because of the downpour and is quite spectacular.  

Dorfgastein
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Curling without the ice.
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A sound to drift off to sleep to, no doubt.
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The spectacular water feature.
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Ann’s note: On the way up to Bad Gastein, I thought, a travel guide might suggest catching a train to avoid the taxing gradient on some of the curves. Having said that, it wasn’t them that caused us trouble. Once at the top I suggested we take the road to cut out a few zigzags seen on the map. The 167 sign was there ahead. We proceeded, but had gone a considerable way down when I realised we were not passing any notable landmarks. Google check again; right road, wrong way! There is no getting past Bad Gastein. We went down, around and up again. Strangely it did not seem as Bad second time round because we anticipated the climbs better. At the top a man with a van handed me an advert for his transfer service, as we passed through Mozartplatz. Who needs shuttles?

We find the route to Böckstein and continue up and up trying to solve the mystery of this hidden hostel we’ve booked. We ask a young woman and she says, ‘Follow me!’ And takes off running! Then, we’re there. It’s pretty quiet and empty but comfortable enough. Up goes our clothesline and we change into dry clothing. I scout out the nearest Spar for dinner and return with schnitzel and tomatoes as well as some enticing pastries- these things happen when a man goes shopping.

Tomorrow we cycle to Böckstein where we hit the wall- the massive mountains which can only be negotiated by a 12 minute tunnel train ride on a transporter for people, cars cycles and motorcycles. We’re looking forward to it. Outside our window the surrounding mountains appear and disappear in the evening clouds. Tomorrow is supposed to be full sun.

Today's ride: 57 km (35 miles)
Total: 3,711 km (2,305 miles)

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