Daily Digest- DAY 92 to 100 (SLOVENIA AND AUSTRIA)

Day 92 – 3 September 2018
Vrhnika, Slovenia

Transport: Approx 10km walk (a lazy day 😮)

Not touring again 🙄: Waking up to the sound of rain is a nice occurrence if you are indoors and warm which was the case for us. However, the low associated with this weather meant that once again we were deterred from recommending the bicycle touring as the possibility of heavy rain and thunderstorms made for a potentially dangerous situation. We checked and rechecked the weather throughout the day but there was no break in sight however the forecast for tomorrow was looking good so we decided no matter what we would get up early and do a longy tomorrow. Having set this agenda firmly in our minds we were at ease knowing we were back on schedule so to speak. Having a schedule gives you a sense of purpose and what is life without purpose? Very philosophical I know but something both Emm and I agree we direly need in our lives.
Anyways knowing we had one last day with Bojan we hit him up for a arvo walk when there was a slight break in the weather and we went for one last outing. He brought along one of his mates and took us on a loop through town we had not yet been on (this was a big deal as we thought we knew Vrhnika like the back of our hands having spent so much time here). We had a coffee at the end of the walk and headed back for an early dinner. As we had an early start planned we said our farewell to Bojan and Andreja and it was definitely a sad 😞 affair. Spending so much time we have really developed a close affinity with this family. We discussed possibly trying to meet up at the world road racing championships which are being held in Innsbruck in Austria at the end of the month so hopefully this pans out. Otherwise we will be looking forward to the day a few years down the track when Bojan and Andreja decide to head down under for a holiday 🙂.

Day 93 – 4 September 2018
Vrhnika to Višič, Slovenia

Transport: 124.5km with 900m climb in last 13km 😳 average speed 16km/hour, 1764m elevation gain

Bike riding hurts: we woke predawn but quickly convinced ourselves we may as well sleep in till dawn as it really wasn’t that difficult ride ahead of us…(see the fore-shadowing I am laying down here – my high school English teacher would be so proud). What is there to say we had good weather (finally I may add!) and we pedalled out the 115km to Kranjska Gora town which formed the base for the main climb of the day (12km with over 810m climb). There were some small steep bergs on the way to town and our legs were definitely feeling heavy starting up the main climb. I won’t go into too many words as the videis do it way more justice but this was easily one of the toughest days in the saddle for me personally. I was cooked, zapped and seeing stars but somehow the combination of apple strudel and Doritos gave me the hit to get me up the final pinch.

Yeah mate this is a big Berg VIDEO

Was it worth it…? Most definitely. The views straight out our window from our mountain hut stay(Tičarjev dom) are million dollar views or well £12 I should say 😜.

We made it hut VIDEO

Day 94 – 5 September 2018
Višič to Mangart, Slovenia

Transport: 1 hour hike and then bicycles 56.2km, 12.6km/hour, elevation gained 1610m

Bike riding hurts even more on the 2nd day: the start to the day was a ‘own the day sort of moment’ (Emms been reading a self empowering book 🙄). We got up smashed a bottle of water and went for a 1hour hike to this lookout not too far from the Tičarjev dom hut. The views were as to be expected…spectacular. The Julian alps are characterised by a white coloured rock in the exposed up high parts and the contrast with the greenery of the mountains makes for some pretty banger views.

We decided to skip breaky and head down the pass to Bovec for Borek and some yogurt. As this was mostly downhill it was with very little effort we rolled into town round 11am. We had 2 very large Sir (aka cheese) boreks with yogurt and museli for a side 😋. Having loaded up with excess calories we were well set to tackle Slovenia’s highest mountain road – the road to Mangart mountain (Slovenia’s third highest mountain). Now the road tops out at 2055m and took us up an overall altitude gain of 1610m. The main part of the climb comes in the last 9km and takes you up around 900m which is roughly 100m per km. That is steep especially on loaded touring bikes running 34-42 as our lowest gear 😳. Emm nick-named the climb the knee cracker for obvious reasons 😆.

Slovenia’s highest road climb VIDEO

We made it up the highest Slovenian road climb yewww VIDEO

Luckily we had the time and weather up our sleeves and made it to the hut near the top (Koča na Mangrtskem sedlu) just after lunch.

We settled in for a lazy arvo to recover the muscles and enjoy the spectacular views we were once again rewarded with… Emm loved watching the light of the sky change over the hut. Just stunning.

Shortly after dinner we called it a night and went to bed on 2 beds just outside the dorm rooms. The hut was full for the night so the manager had us sleeping in the hallway but this was an advantage as we were not in a room with 20 others (this is a massive bonus in bulk boarding situations as you are generally guaranteed some heavy snorers in most dorm rooms). Another bonus was that the manager was happy to charge us half our member price as he could not offer a dorm room bed so we each had to cough up a mere £5 😝. Pretty good for a nights accomodation I reckon.

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Status quo from 2nd Sep

Day 95 – 6 September 2018
Mangart Slovenia to Erlachgraben Austria

Transport: 52km, 16.7km/hour average speed, elevation gain 783m

It’s all downhill to Austria right 🤔: waking up early we wanted to hike to the peak of Mangart mountain. This would be about a 3-4 hour return hike. We set off and were blown away by probably the best views we have encountered so far during our trip (this is a massive statement but we feel the unedited images below justify this claim).

We then continued up to the turn off towards the ‘Italian’ way up to the top (basically a non rock climbing route up to the summit). At this stage we looked around and took note of the weather and noticed that clouds were coming in fast. As the weather can change quickly in the mountains we decided to play it safe and head back down. We had made it to the shoulder of the mountain and were only around 45mims from the peak so it was definitely a hard choice but one neither of us regrets. It’s just another reason to come back one day 😜.

Hiking stunning Slovenia VIDEO

Emma complains whilst hiking VIDEO

Sun halos in the clouds!! VIDEO

Amazing view Chats VIDEO

We had a hot breaky on returning to the hut and then rode up to the top of the highest mountain road to complete this segment (doing the climb over 2 days just makes it all that more epic!)

Finishing off Slovenia’s highest road cycle climb VIDEO

The cruise into Austria via Italy was pretty uneventful……

Tunnel riding VIDEO

except for the last 5km!!! (Note the 3 countries are all in close proximity in this neck of the woods). I had decided I needed a food stop before the final climb to our hosts place. This delayed us about half an hour. So when we set off and only had less than 3km remaining and the heavens opens up (and I mean really pissed down) I can report Emm was definitely less than impressed.

We managed to find refuge in a bus shelter and waited out the worst but were still dripping wet when we arrived at our warmshowers hosts Joachim and Hemma. These guys were champs and had a hot shower and a brew ready shortly after arriving. Joachim had a work meeting in the evening so it was just the 3 of us for dinner. We made a gnocchi pesto mix with prosciutto which went down well with Hemma and for dessert we hooked intos some speculos biscuits we had found in the bargain bin at the supermarket…score 😝. We were pretty cooked and it was a early evening tapping out at 9pm 😴.

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Status quo from 2nd Sep

Day 96 – 7 September 2018
Erlachgraben to Napplach Austria

Transport: 75.1km, 19.2km/hour average speed

Hobo life: we woke up early mindful of our hosts work schedule and got ready. Joachim and Hemma were awesome had prepared some fried eggs and cereal for our breaky which we were very grateful for as it was both delicious and saved us about an hour of fluffing around trying to find a supermarket and doing it ourselves. This was important as we knew we had rain forecasted in the arvo so wanted to cover some distance before we had to find some cover (not wanting to get soaked like yesterday🤞). We said farewell to our hosts and got going heading along the Drau river.

We didn’t really stop until we had made it to Napplach where we found some cover under the eve of a fire station and proceeded to have a looooong lunch. We had planned to wait out the rain and then ride a couple more kms to some wild camp. Whilst waiting it out at the fire station Emm went for a wander and low and behold found a pretty good parkup just out the back. We tossed it up and decided to park it as we only had a few hours of daylight left and weren’t sure if the rain was actually clearing. The rain was on and off for the next few hours so we were happy with our choice but had the smallest apprehension as we were technically on private property 😬. Having said this we don’t think we were in the wrong as we couldn’t make it to the nearest campground (prob about 40km away) and weren’t camping (we only set up a mosquito net) and felt on the balance of things we were not in the wrong as we were not bothering anyone (#whereisthewierdestplaceyiuhavecamped).

We did some admin during the early evening changing bike break pads and the like and called it as soon as it was dark in true camp like fashion.

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Hazelnut spread jar count: 14
Jam jar count: 10 (2 jars from berries we picked ourselves)
Honey jar count: 2
Speculoose: 2
Tires Worn Away: 2
Brake pads cooked: 7
Gear cables: 1
Chains: 4
Handlebar tape: 2 rolls (1 roll equals 1 handlebar)
# fuel bottles: 3 litres of denatured alcohol, 1x 250g gas bottle
# Sporks broken: 1
# knives broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1
# shoes broken: 1 pair sandals
# novelty sunnies from Kurt: 1
# novelty straw hats from Kurt: 2 (lost somewhere in the Mediterranean ☹️)

Day 97 – 8 September 2018
Napplach to part up Großglockner Austria

Transport: 70.7km , 1538m elevation gain, 13.9km/hour average speed

Hobo life 2: we woke and were quick to pack up our gear and then unpack again just down the road for breakfast 🙄. The sun was out and shining and the ride was really serene heading upstream all the way to Heiligenblut.

Riding the River Drau Austria VIDEO

Road side waterfalls Austria VIDEO

Beau gets belted VIDEO

We stopped in Heiligenblut for lunch and also to check out some hiking boots for Emm as we had decided it was a necessity for any future hikes (we all know how much of a mountain goat 🐐 she is 😂). We didn’t buy any boots but did stumble across a town fair which was a mad bonus.

Heiligenblut Markets VIDEO

We then decided it was time to haul our asses up the Austria’s highest road pass.

Happy as Larry before climbing VIDEO

Ferraris zooming past VIDEO

We were about half way up when we came across this abandoned Restuarant with a killer view (or maybe closed for the summer 🤔). We decided it was to good a spot to pass up for wild camping the night so set up and had dinner at the nearby rest stop just in the restaurants parking area with a few other car campers. We were the only ones who stayed on but being on bikes makes it easier to sleep outdoors unnoticed whereas cars parked conspicuously away draw more attention. Note technically you are not allowed to wild camp in Austria however it is widely practiced and we were not in a position to make a suitable campground so didn’t have any other choice (plus we didn’t set up a tent so technically we weren’t camping 😜). Also I want to add that principles learned from Australian bush waking (ie leave no trace) I feel we are very respectful campers and always aim to minimise our footprint when camping outdoors. It was an early lights out call as we got settled into yet another night under the stars…under a eve of a building 😂.

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Status quo from 7 Sep

Day 98 – 9 September 2018
Großglockner climb to Mitteralm Austria

Transport: 27.5km , 11.1km/hour elevation gain 950m

Hobo life 3: we woke up and sauntered around the campsite really soaking in the UV trying to get kickstarted. We eventually did get going around 930am which prob wasn’t the smartest call as all the bikers had the same schedule at this point which meant we did not have the climb all to ourselves ☹️. Don’t get me wrong the climb was beautiful and the scenery spectacular but having a constant stream of motorcycles passing you on the climb wears you down (most Harley Davidsons with the catalytic converters probably removed for more noise generation – lol writing this I am sounding more and more like old man heath complaining…).

Yep motorcycle traffic VIDEO

We made the top of the pass with 2 hours of riding under our belts and as the highest road in Austria was just off this road pass we decided to tackle this beast as well.

Highest Road Pass Check! VIDEO

Progressing up the mountain VIDEO

Almost at top of highest road climb VIDEO

Summiting Austria’s highest road climb VIDEO

We then had a super relaxing lunch near the top before layering up (literally!) for the decent. We did not have to pull a single pedal stroke heading down the descent which averaged 12% overall!

On the way down we stopped at a rest stop to refill our water and found it had some free wifi so we ended up parking up and calling the folks back home 🙂. Whilst at the stop we noticed there was once again a abandoned restuarant in close proximity. As it was nearing that tie we would start looking for shelter we decided to once again use the building as cover and parked up for the night.

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Status quo from 7 Sep

Day 99 – 10 September 2018
Mitteralm to Berg Austria

Transport: 73.5km, 18.9km/hour average speed

Hobo life day 4: we woke up and cruised the rest of the way down out of the hills into the first major town this side of the Austrian Alps – Zell am See. We restocked on food supplies as we were running at an all time low (shops are closed Sunday’s as mentioned in prior posts) and had a great lunch and park up.

Zell am See Park up #BeausBowl VIDEO

Then went to find some good hiking shoes for Emm. We ended up getting a good set of Lowa hiking shoes from the flagship Intersport shop not too far from Zell am See and were then on our way back on route towards Wilder Kaiser (our next hiking adventure area in Austria).

New Shoe DAY VIDEO lol

We rolled to Saalfelden and with mounting jealousy I succumbed to visiting the local Intersport and purchasing a set of hiking boots. I justified it from a safety perspective but we all know my alter ego #mrconsumer can always find a way to justifying acquiring cool gear 😎.
We finally got going again and rolled to a small sporting field on our route where we took refuge in the fields dugout which meant we didn’t have to bust the tent out once again…bonus!

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Status quo from 7 Sep

Day 100 – 11 September 2018
Berg to St. Johann Austria

Transport: 30.7km , 16.2km/hour average speed

Hobo life day is finally over: we woke up after a good sleep and had a warm breaky in the dugout of the playing field we had camped at. It was a crisp start to the morning as the sun was not yet risen above the surrounding mountains but we got eager to clock the 28km to St. Johann.

St. Johann is a pretty small town which acts as the main hub for all activities related to the close by Wilder Kaiser mountains.

#BeausBowl on route to St Johann VIDEO

First Glimpse of Wilder Kaiser Mountains VIDEO

We set about getting our supplies for the multi day hike we had planned (yewwwww found some speculos again!!!) and then met up with Romana who had agreed to host us through Couch Surfing. Our stoke levels were definitely high which could be linked to the fact we had each other’s company only for the last 4 nights. Romana was a really cool chick and had a lot of good energy. She is really really well travelled and had some very interesting tales based on her adventures (my fav was the one where she cut her knee pretty bad and a local South American have a green home made paste as a ointment which apparently worked a treat).

We shared a super delicious gnocchi pesto dinner spread (having a oven makes a made difference compared to camp cooking 🥘) and washed it down with a local Edeilweiss beer 🍺 😋.

We didn’t stay up too much longer as Romana had work the following morning and we were pretty knackered despite having a relatively easy day on the bike (I think he combination of big berg riding over the past week had caught up).

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Hazelnut spread jar count: 14
Jam jar count: 11 (2 jars from berries we picked ourselves)
Honey jar count: 2
Speculos: 3
Tires Worn Away: 2
Brake pads cooked: 7
Gear cables: 1
Chains: 4
Handlebar tape: 2 rolls (1 roll equals 1 handlebar)
# fuel bottles: 3 litres of denatured alcohol, 1x 250g gas bottle
# Sporks broken: 1
# knives broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1
# shoes broken: 1 pair sandals
# novelty sunnies from Kurt: 1
# novelty straw hats from Kurt: 2 (lost somewhere in the Mediterranean ☹️)

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