Monday, July 30, 2018

June 17th: Landeck to Reschen am see

The morning had us riding up along the Inn river bike path. Having ridden this 4 years ago, it was interesting to see it going the other way: the climbing was pleasant and not at all overwhelming, and in Pratz, we found a zipline playground right next to the campground that the other bicycle tourists we met yesterday was heading for.

Paset Pratz, the road opened up and we started seeing signs for Switzerland! "Hey, we can have breakfast in Austria, lunch in Switzerland, and dinner in Italy today!" I said to Bowen. That sounded so good to him that he would repeat it over and over again like a mantra throughout the day.

Just before Martina, the road suddenly took a huge dip, and we sped rapidly down towards the Swiss border. I realized once we got to Martina that Arturo and I had passed this very same spot 4 years ago, but there wasn't a lunch place in sight except for a little kiosk with bicycles parked outside. Going in, we bought what looked like the last packet of meat, some chocolate, and half a loaf of bread fresh out of the oven. Bowen was fascinated by the Swiss army knife display and asked to see my Gerber Dime, which was smaller than any of the knives on display.
After lunch, we crossed back over to the Austrian side of the border and immediately started up Norbert's pass. At this point, the afternoon heat combined with cumulative nights of jet-lag and the prior days' climbing finally caught up to me and I struggled up the hill at a dog-slow pace. While I was never distressed enough to stop, the pass felt like a much tougher pass than it should have, a memory which would color the next few days of the tour.
At the top, we ate the partially melted chocolate, and I found myself dreading the climb over Reschen pass, which I thought was around 1800m, while Norberts pass was at 1405. Another cyclist said, "It's not a hard pass, compared to Noberts pass", and I'd already promised Bowen dinner in Italy, so no matter how exhausted I felt, I was committed to making it over the pass. My initial plan of riding all the way to Schluderns was gone.

There was a fast and furious descent into Nauders, and then a bike path pointing us to Reschen pass. Despite the relatively high elevation of 1300m, it was warm, but the bike path led us away from the highway despite giving us occasional views of it. The climb was gentle and I didn't feel like I was climbing a pass at all. When we finally crossed over to the Italian border it was a surprise! Indeed, I had misread the altitude of the pass: it was 1504m, not 1800m. I was pretty happy to be wrong.
I was warned that the bike path kept climbing despite having crossed over the pass, which made this the most anti-climatic path I'd ever seen. But at least the weather had cooled off a bit and we were now riding through greenery and flowers that were missing on the Austrian side. We finally got a view of the lake and what did we find but a playground with a zipline!
While Bowen played on the zipline, I searched on my phone for lodging. Not surprisingly, most of the good deals on lodging were on the Austrian side, where I'd spotted large numbers of hotels, mostly to cater to the ski resort. The Italian side didn't have any ski lifts, so there was no summer competition to keep prices down. I eventually found a guest house (which looked much more like an apartment building) nearby, and booked it. On the way to the hotel, Bowen complained that he couldn't clip in any more! Upon later examination, we found a piece of stone (from the playground) embedded in just the wrong place that was blocking engagement. I got out the Gerber Dime multitool flipped open the knife and pry'd it off. This would happen a couple more times during the trip. This never happens to my adult shoes no matter how much I abuse them on dirt and gravel hikes, but the Giro Manta that Pardo had bought for Bowen (from a thrift shop) seemed to be much more susceptible.
When we arrived, we discovered that nobody was there to greet us, but a phone call led to the owners/managers having a mad scramble to come and meet us, and all was well. It turned out that the place was quite far away from the main "town", but we were walking distance from a restaurant and so after our afternoon routine we could walk there. It was quite clear that e-bikes had taken over Europe as there was a free charging station right next to the restaurant.
I was quite tired, and hoped for an easier day the next day.

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