Today we ventured deep into the picturesque Austrian Alps. The lush green fields contrasted with the steep and jagged gray mountains so stunningly I (Brandon writing) almost went off course a couple of times trying to take in the breathtaking views.
Yep, Stage 2 of the 2011 TransAlp from Weerberg to Mayerhofen was like a scene out of The Sound of Music, but there was no prancing through fields while singing lovely melodies. Instead the only sound I heard was the pounding of my heart as if wanted to pounce out of my chest trying to summit three brutally long climbs.
Europeans are just plain awesome cycling fans. Along the route we passed by many mountain huts which were packed with weekend hikers and bikers taking a break from their personal adventure to get a snack. Chances are most of them did not even know what the TransAlp race is, yet they all gathered outside the café to cheer us on. Most yell, "Bravo!, Bravo!"which I can easily understand and appreciate with the utmost gratitude. Others say things in their respective language and I have no clue what they mean. I slowly passed this old Austrian man just as we were about to crest one of the day's steepest and most grueling climbs. He looked like the classic Austrian hard man. Tanned, leathery skin, bushy gray eyebrows and that classic old man grin on his face. You know the grin I am talking about... the one that either means, "Yes, that is the way to grind it out. Bravo"or "You sorry sack of crap, get your ass up this mountain. I'm 101 years old and can ride faster than you!"I'd like to think the former, but these guys are so tough so my money is on the latter.
The finishes of these point-to-point stage races are insane. I'm sure the race organizers labor over route maps trying to find a safe and interesting way to get riders from the backcountry passes to the finish towns, but sometimes it's downright hilarious. Today we had to ride the last 10 kilometers on a public bike path. Mind you, it was still open to the public! Numerous times we had to yell out, "Achtung! Achtung!" in hopes they would get out of the way. Pete nearly ran into a guy who looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Unlike the people in the aforementioned mountain huts who cheered us onward, these people looked at us like we were crazy. Imagine you're out on Sunday stroll along your favorite bike way and here comes a pack of neon mountain bikers, pedaling like they are trying to escape a tsunami.
Stage 3 takes us from Mayerhofen (Austria) to Brixen (Italy) and it starts off with a doozy of a 30km climb right from the start. Forecast calls for rain, too. I'm not looking forward to a case of hypothermia. I generally reserve that for cyclocross season.
Visit http://app.strava.com/rides/955736 for our GPS track and data on Strava.
Thanks for checking in.
- Brandon and Pete / Team Boulder Cycle Sport