July has begun. Another, I hope, weather-wise delightful so I could really be outdoor active. The heat is not slowing down for the time being, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that on hot days it’s only possible to hustle on a bicycle – and it’s better than an air condition.
For some unknown reasons, some time ago we came up with a family weekend in Trento (Italy), and for even less thoughtful reasons I decided that I would get there by bike. Then I looked at the map once again, and further could not fathom how I came up with it. What’s more, I came to the conclusion that the route Villach – Trento is not for me (yet;) although I had, as they say, second thoughts. In any case, it must have slipped through, or some cooler day or something else turned on my wits for a while, because I decided to modify the route a bit. That is, to drive up a bit by train and continue by bicycle. Which just sounds easier.
The route Lienz – Trento according to the plans was supposed to be 222km long, in the end it came out 10km more, because it is human thing to get lost, and navigation apparently supports it.
Lienz is located in the land of Osttirol, right on the border with Carinthia. It is about 110km west of Villach. The earliest train from Villach leaves at 7am and takes about an hour and a half to get there. Such a time means that many students use it – in Austria (Carinthia) the school year lasts until about July 10. Nevertheless, it was not crowded, perhaps a bit noisy. However, it was possible to switch off by gazing at the views outside the window.
Lienz has a population of just over 11k citrizens. A very typical tourist town. It is quite close to Großglockner – the highest mountain in Austria, and also close to somewhat wilder and less frequented areas of the Alps. Close to the Dolomites as well.
The bicycle route runs right next to the train station, so it’s not hard to start the journey. It actually leads along the Drau River and the railroad that runs alongside it, all the way to the border with Italy and the border of another watershed, once the Drau River ends.
Talking about Drau river. It is definitely livelier here than in Villach, one can even spot here some places for canoeists
The first 50km is an uphill climb. There only are few steeper climbs, but it is overall consistently uphill all the time. From 674 m all the way up to 1233 m. Whole way is accompanied by a railroad line – yes, it goes up that high and you can take it further to the south of Italy.
The views along the way are beautiful, no need to explain. The paved road, with a new surface, leads through fields and forests and smells of pine trees. Next to the river, plenty of places to rest, and if anyone needs to buy something, there are exit signs like „inn 1000m to the right.”
The closer you get to the Italian border, the more tourists shows on the route. Once entering Sillian area it’s full accumulation. Very many and very impromptu tourists. Children drive as they please, adults stare at their cell phones or busy talking, and do not look ahead. You have to be careful and think for others, because it is really easy to have an accident. Eech. I have a loud ringbell, but apparently it’s not enough for that kind of people
Italy had barely enetered, and already the interesting sights began. Here are 3 Zinnen, which could almost be seen from the route.
From this point, or maybe a little earlier, in any case after first 50km, the road should descend. In Alps, as you might have expected nothing is ever quite downhill. Easy downride is often interspersed with short but intense climbs. Quite some on a long route lie that.The road goes from asphalt to gravel, forest, there are also tunnels. Italy with its best
Finally, after about 80km, the road reaches Bruneck. Here you can see how firmly we are still in Tirol. It is Italy, but majority of the signs are in German. The whole area was for hundreds of years first Bavarian, then Habsburg, only for the last 100 years Italian. Apparently it’s still too short. The town is charming, with a nice castle to explore, although I had the impression that it was heavily geared toward the rather winter tourist – jackets in the store windows, skis in the cellars, etc.
Whole area is full of castles, one can see them along the entire route. Some in ruins, some well-preserved. The road descended, rose, was in shadows and sunshine, again on asphalt, again on gravel. In general downhill, but sometimes not. Along the way you pass some more interesting towns, such as Klausen.
General condition of the road was ok, a lot of many places to rest, some very fancy in their form. Unfortunately, there were no places to refill drinking water. I am used to o Austrian conveniences in this regard and I began to get a little concerned, especially since there was rarely an opportunity to buy anything along the way. Actually I didn’t find the first watering hole until just outside Trento, what was pretty disappointing and even a bit dangerous in such a heat.
Somewhere around Bozen the landscape began to become more and more Italianized. The first vineyards, and then more of them. Cypresses, and villas and other little mountains. And then the castles, again
And sometimes tunnels
After about 140km, the road began to flatten out. It was no longer downhill. Instead, it was against the wind. The temperature was still at about 30 degrees Celcius. The wind was so strong that I had the feeling that if I stopped pedaling for a while, it would start to move me backwards. Quite a nightmare, because I had already some kilometers in my legs, but had much ahead of me. I had also already run out of food. Of course, I grabbed some lunch along the way, the bottles started to get lighter and lighter, and I couldn’t find a place to refill.
Maybe at 180km I found it increasingly difficult to sit, and actually that was the most disturbing thing. My legs didn’t even hurt, my wrists perhaps a bit, but my butt really didn’t know how to sit anymore. And that wind…
The bike was doing well, the powerbank was enough to keep the navigation on all the time. The rain was not falling, I had enough stamina, but of course – less and less. I agreed with myself that a short break after each 10km would be something I could to and I’ll admit, I was getting longer and longer in those dykes. Then, somewhere around 210km I took a wrong turn (i.e., instead of navi, I steered by the bike path markings) and got 5km in free, for the second time that day anyway. Needless to say, how it made me feel…
Then, at twilight, I finally reached my Trento, that I was looking forward to whole day. Yet that didn’t mean it was over yet, as the overnight stay was a bit out of town.
I set off from Lienz just before 9, passing Trento just before 9 p.m. I still had about 10km to go, and really, each successive last one was getting longer and longer, and the last one, the 233rd, was almost endless. Finally I arrived, so tired that I barely had the strength to eat a slice of pizza and sip a beer.
It was a long road, a bit tiring towards the end, or better said, without the pleasure of riding in the last maybe 40km. The wind in my eyes felled me, and I don’t know if I want to improve my now personal best. Nevertheless, I recommend the route:)