October 2022

Gravel path along Drau river

What a day it was! For the third time this year I decided to go from Lienz to Villach, this time less platitudinous, for a gravel farewell to the season. The autumn weather was not nice at first, until October finally arrived and immediately unleashed a beautiful Indian summer. Only that in the Alps it may not feel too much like summer when you’re rushing around on a bike.

I went to Lienz by train, it took a little longer than in July, almost two hours. Anyway, I got there before 11 a.m. It took me some time to decide how to dress appropriately, because on the one hand I don’t like to be cold on the bike, but I’m not fond of overheating either. After the hundredth analysis of the weather, and most finally at the insistence of the all-knowing spouse, I gave up my long pants. Nonetheless taking a long sleeve, an extra long-sleeved sweatshirt and a vest, I made myself comfortable on the train and admired the beautiful views of the mountains in the billowing morning mists.

Watching mists through window

It was quite obvious then, that the first thing I did upon arrival was to find a sporting goods store in order to purchase anything that would keep my legs warm. Perhaps a walk in the sunshine would have been pleasant, but the air was cold; when cycling, however, the sensation of cold was unequivocally unbearable and I wasn’t keen on freezing the next few hours. Luckily In Lienz Intersport is a stone’s throw from the train station, so lighter by an unannounced few tens of euros I could spin in peace.

It was slowly approaching twelve o’clock, it was slowly – seemingly – getting warmer, but once all it took was to drive off into the shade and the spell was gone. But in the sunlights – the most beautiful autumns.

Autumn sunny rapeseed fields
Colorful mountains

Thus in natural delights I again arrived at Gasthaus Wulz, still open, still recommendable, with usual nice service and delicious beer. Unlike my summer route, just after the gasthaus I turned right and took a slightly shorter route through Weisensee. The lake is located at an altitude of about 1000 meters above sea level, and yes, this means quite a climb, sometime even over 15%.

One can’t tell there’s no warning

It may not be some exceptionally long climb, but you can feel those percentages. While in the summer it is not a problem, today wearing multiple layers on yourself to avoid freezing on the straights/downhill, for an uphill it is an additional sort of burden. Quite complicated this autumn riding. But for this views – fantastic

View back while climbing

The area around Weisensee was rather empty, just a bunch of tourists every now and then. Beautiful colors, although from the level of the lake its blues are not very visible; these are visible if you climb the surrounding mountains.

Autumn colors at Weißensee

The infrastructure of Weißensee is peculiar, that means that there is no road around it for the entire circumference of the lake. At a certain point the asphalt ends, further on there is a forest and you can either get to the eastern part of the lake by ferry, or you have to make up a lot of ground by car (bicycle) around the hills. You can also take the dirt path up the mountain, climbing to 1250m, which of course I did.

Premium gravel road

The route was a little rocky, forest, autumn and steep. Seriously steep. Sections of 17% happened several times and, what can I say, gave a chill. The temperature dropped to some 8 degrees Celcius, which, when completely sweaty, intensified the feeling of cold. I liked it, but it’s definitely better to wave it in the summer. The views are nice, but as is usual in such outings, after three hours of driving I am less focused on taking pictures;)

Going down was nice and smooth only at the beginning

Having passed the highest point on the route, a sharp descent awaited me, very rocky and unfriendly to the handlebars of the gravels, but that was not the last pain that day – in another dozen kilometers or so I could check my lungs one last time on the climb to Kreuzen (18%)

After reaching Kreuzen

Exhausted and sweaty, I had to experience the cool downhill wind once again and finally, after more than 100km, tired but certainly delighted, I reached Villach via the well-known R1 route.

The total was 105km and took me just over 5h.

Route picture taken strava.com