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Salzburg to Verona - an incredible mountain bike adventure

Published July 22nd, 2012

This is the story of my life's most exciting outdoor adventure so far - 15 days and 1250 kms (780 miles) on my mountain bike from Salzburg in Austria to Verona in Italy, approaching the Dolomites, across mountain passes, through a part of Switzerland and around the lakes of Northern Italy, into forests, along mountain lakes, rivers and vineyards, through long tunnels and picturesque villages.



I did it on my own, enjoyed the most incredible views, met friendly and curious people and gained some new friends. I pushed myself to the limit almost every day because the ascents were sometimes extremely demanding and it was during a very hot summer period. But it was well worth it. I brought my tripod and most of my camera equipment, tried to capture the incredible beauty that I experienced and I hope that you will enjoy both my story and my photos.



I will post many photos from this adventure. So if you don't want to miss out on any part of my story or any of my photos, just... follow me...



:o)

Hohenwerfen Castle

Day 1, photo 1

Öjersbo - Landvetter airport
Distance: 25 km (16 miles),
Max speed: 41.5 km/h (25.8 mph)
1.28.19 hours of pedaling
and
Salzburg airport - Bischofshofen
Distance: 56 km (35 miles)
Max speed: 50.1 km/h (31.1 mph)
3.12.56 hours of pedaling

I woke up at 04.45 at home (in Sweden). My bike and bags were already prepared for departure so I had breakfast, checked my to-do-lists and left one hour later, heading for Landvetter airport outside Gothenburg. I had 25 kms to the airport and it was a beautiful morning; perfect weather for a mountain bike ride. I arrived 90 minutes later and it took me about 20 minutes to prepare my bike for the check-in. One of the airport assistants started arguing with me (in a very nice way though) and told me that I had to wrap my bike if I wanted to send it. But I knew that I didn't have to so I insisted. He made a couple of phone calls to Air Berlin to verify that I was right. The plane left 16 minutes later than planned but the transfer in Berlin was so fast and smooth (only five minutes) so I didn't have any problems at all. I got seat 1A on the flight from Berlin to Salzburg. I never had that before in my life, haha. The clouds scattered more the closer I got to Salzburg. The approach to Salzburg was gorgeous. I observed a small village on a sharp river bend of the Salzach: Laufen. And I knew immediately that I have to go there one day.

The plane landed one minute before schedule, at 14.14. I got my bike and bike bags first of all and 30 minutes later I had made my bike ready. It was 15.05 and my destination was Bischofshofen at the foot of the Austrian Alps. I knew that the fastest way to get there would to start along the Moosstrasse that would take me to the main road along the Salzach river. I asked at the information desk to save some time and got a prompt and detailed reply. So I set off and found my way immediately. It was a windy and warm afternoon (27C/81F). I had the wind in my back so it was a great start to say the least. I went through Hallein and at 17.15 I reached Kuchl which was an irresistible little village. I stopped there to buy some food and snack. Austrian grocery stores have really low prices compared to Italy and Switzerland. People were enjoying the sunny afternoon along the main street and I enjoyed observing them and their sweet village. Then I continued. After the beautiful Golling the landscape changed abruptly as the valley narrowed. I was heading for my first mountain pass: the Lueg Pass (553 m). It wasn't much of a pass, compared to what I had coming, but still a pass to conquer :) I sat down on a bench and enjoyed my snack and then I set off again.

After a while a surprise showed up in the distance - a castle on a hill, just like in a fairy tale. I had it in front of me for many minutes as I approached it and it became one of the highlights of this first day. The name of the castle is Hohenwerfen and it was built in 1078. It's situated on a hill, 113 meter above the main road and has a bell from 1568 that weighs 4.4 tons (!). Unfortunately I felt a bit stressed because it was already 19.20 so I didn't explore the castle from other viewpoints than this one, from the main road.

- - -

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:

500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • June 26th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 12mm / f/22

Bischofshofen - the main square

Day 1, photo 2 ( continued from day 1, photo 1 )

Thirty minutes later, at 19.57, I arrived in Bischofshofen which was also the intention for this first day. I had already found some guest houses and small hotels that I would go to, to find myself a single room for one night. So I rolled slowly through its old town which was exactly what I was hoping for. I asked at Pension Feitzinger and got myself a room immediately, for 44 euro, breakfast included. I didn't want to try other places to find something cheaper, because it was late and I was tired. It was a nice small room with a very nice bathroom, perfect for me. I showered and went for a late night walk in the blue hour of the old town. The first settlers seem to have come 5.000 years ago and the first time the town was mentioned is from the year 711. This is a photo from the idyllic main square, with the Gasthaus Schützenhof and the Hotel Alte Post (old postal office).

- - -

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • June 26th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/11 / Shutter Sp sec

Bischofshofen - Schützenhof

Day 1, photo 3 ( continued from day 1, photo 2 )

The colorful main square of Bischofshofen during the blue hours. I was very tired but could not stop enjoying my time walking these streets.

- - -

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • June 26th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/11 / 1/4 sec

At Filzensattel

Day 2, photo 1 ( continued from day 1, photo 3 )

Bischofshofen - Zell am See
Distance: 56 km (35 miles),
Max speed: 52.7 km/h (32.9 mph)
4.51.31 hours of pedaling

I woke up at 04.40 but stayed in bed until 06.17. I had a headache, probably because I didn't drink enough the day before. The breakfast downstairs was nice. No buffet, but I seemed to be alone there that night so it was ok. Light rain outside but the forecast was promising. It was 14 degrees when I sat off (at 07.43). I went immediately to a grocery store so that I could charge my batteries later. Then the rain stopped and the skies cleared up slowly. It started with an ascent up to Mühlbach and then it became very steep, even with a sign that warned for a 15% ascent for the coming 3.3 kms. That's when I realized that my lowest gear was not working. So I stopped to adjust it. I reached my first mountain pass just after noon; Dientner Sattel (1370 m). Then a quite steep descent down to the beautiful village of Dienten. Then another ascent up to Filzensattel (1290 m) where I chose to take a longer break. The sun was out and the temperatures were increasing. I realized that the rest of the day would probably become very nice so I sat down on a bench and prepared a snack while watching the cows enjoying the same sunlight.

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 300mm / f/5.6 / 1/800 sec

Maria Alm - the pilgrimage church

Day 2, photo 2 ( continued from day 2, photo 1 )

Then further down to the popular skiresort Maria Alm where I also took a break in its old town. I also visited its pilgrimage church which had really nice interiors. This church is 83 meters tall and it was first documented in 1374 - one of the most beautiful churches I entered during this adventure.

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/22 / 16 sec

Schloss Prielau

Day 2, photo 3 ( continued from day 2, photo 2 )

Then I set off into the mostly flat Austrian countryside, towards Zell am See which thought would be one of the highlights of this adventure. I was quite excited to see what its lake (Zeller See) had to offer when it comes to beautiful surroundings. But first I was surprised to find a nice little castle on my way there, the Prielau castle. It's from the 15th century and now owned by the Porsche family. You can stay there overnight and it seems to be a quite popular place to be. Beautiful!

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/22 / 1/50 sec

Zeller See - the lake promenade

Day 2, photo 4 ( continued from day 2, photo 3 )

And yes, it's a beautiful lake, but it cannot in any way compare to most of the Swiss alpine lakes that I have seen in my life. Some of these lakes are playing in another league, all of them. Zeller See has a nice lake promenade from the North to South

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/22 / 1/50 sec

Zell am See - the main square

Day 3, photo 1 ( continued from day 2, photo 4 )

Zell am See - Heiligenblut
Distance: 56 km (35 miles)
Max speed: 53.9 km/h (33.7 mph)
6.18.44 hours of pedaling

I slept well and woke up at 05.39. I stayed at Pension Alpenrose which was a really great place for the money (29€). And I loved my small room with a balcony at the top floor. It was a beautiful morning so I went for a walk with my camera immediately when I woke up; only five minutes to the town's main square. Still not convinced about the beauty of Zell am See though. I went further down to the lake promenade again and enjoyed the sun as it rose over the mountains, at 06.20. Then it was time for breakfast. The hostess was very nice and helpful and breakfast buffet was the best of all that I got during these 15 days in the Alps.

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/22 / 1/5 sec

Zeller See - at the lake promenade

Day 3, photo 2 ( continued from day 3, photo 1 )

I set off at 08.12, along the lake promenade again. No cars, only cyclists on their way to work and some people who took their dogs for an early morning walk.

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/22 / 1/50 sec

Near Kaprun

Day 3, photo 3 ( continued from day 3, photo 2 )

It was a beautiful and peaceful ride until I reached the outskirts of Kaprun. Some roundabouts and busy morning traffic, then the mountains showed up in the distance. And I understood what was coming. The temperature was already rising and the sunrays scattered the morning haze.

This photo belongs to my 500px-story that you can find here:
500px.com/sirugo/stories/45537/salzburg-to-verona-an-incredible-mountain-bike-adventure

  • February 19th, 2011
  • Canon EOS 500D
  • 10mm / f/22 / 1/125 sec

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