This morning we woke up somewhat refreshed, though still not feeling completely caught up on sleep, grabbed breakfast, and rushed off on our bikes at 9 to hit the Grossglockner. Grossglockner, or Großglockner as they prefer to write it here, is the highest mountain in Austria, as well as the name of a toll road that runs past its base. We started off with a couple of other guys from the group, but soon lost them as their pace exceeded Päivi’s comfort level on our first full Alpine ride. We slowed down as we rode past 1000 meters, to 2000 and finally 2500 meters up off on a side road from the main pass. We parked our bikes and looked out across a valley to a glacier.
Below us was a wash of loose stones and pooled water, evidence of what one of our companions said, that the glacier had come much lower in earlier years. Not much time for discussing the finer points of climate change, however. Back on the bikes and onward and upward. We ended up stopping once more at the highest point of the main pass around 2500 meters, and then down to Zell am Zee, celebrated base for Alpine skiing in the winter, but a snarl of traffic now in the summer. There we had lunch, then turned around and headed for home, arriving back around 3:30 to the hotel.
Motorcycles rode almost universally aggressively. There was not much of an attitude of cruising through the scenery here. Campers, small trucks, and cars alike were dispatched with little mercy; only buses were paid a wary respect, primarily because took up more than their lane (and were long) and were therefore difficult to pass. Furthermore they had a tendency to swing out into the oncoming path when taking hairpins, which meant they had to be watched out for.
I doubt it was the riders themselves to blame for all the aggression though — the roads were so full of delicious curves and teeth-sinking slopes as to drive even the most mild mannered of motorcyclists into a frenzy.
Twisting throttle, upshifting, downshifting, engine braking followed by opening it up, just blasting through the terrain. Finally, we had found what our bikes had been born to do.