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Old 06-16-2009, 03:32 PM   #25
tserts OP
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Yunanistan (Stans baby!)
Oddometer: 2,550
Day 4

Having missed the Stelvio, the Grossglockner (GG for short, that word is impossible to write, let alone pronounce) was something not to be missed, but it was completely out of the way. The easy way to Salzburg is a mere 190km on the motorway, but that was never even considered. We decided to ride up to Bruck via Haizenberg, a route which showed as “scenic”, and make the decision whether to enter the GG there, depending on the weather and the time we would reach that point.

We paid for the hotel, and got on our way without haste, a rule that was set long before we started that trip. We wanted to take everything easy, travel at a relaxing pace, enjoy every km of the way, stop wherever we felt like it, and never follow a time-based schedule…



We got off the highway the soonest possible, and started to follow the gps’ directions, and soon we were riding a wonderful, quick country road, which took us by surprise with its natural beauty… At some point along the way, we reached a remarkable rest area, overlooking a serene lake, which mirrored the surrounding mountains. It was desktop-material-photos-gathering time!!














A little further we entered a national park, with 4 euros toll/entrance fee, and we were finding it difficult to move on without stopping every couple of minutes to get some photos…













We managed to reach the doorstep of the GG at 13.30h, and we all agreed to push on, ensuring that by the end of the day we would be completely exhausted, we never regretted that choice..



The toll is 18 euros per bike, but, since we had paid 4 at the other national park, our toll was reduced to 16 euros.



The GG is advertised as “motorbike heaven” and the truth is not far from that… 48 kms of spotless tarmac welcome the rider and seduce him into pushing his bike to the limits (add “her” where applies, no pun intended to the female riders), up to 2570m of altitude, in a magical blend of snow, rocky peaks, and astonishing drops on the outer side of the road…

























I let the capo loose, which happily started to scream at every twist of the right grip handle. I was in trance, enjoying every turn of the road, until I had enough… I slowed down and I turned on the camera, set it to video mode, and started shooting, I wanted to preserve this memory… My friend Yani overpassed quickly, I knew exactly what he felt right at that moment… It was pure joy…



We reach the top and I notice a familiar triumph bike passing on the opposite direction, at the last moment I make out the Greek Transalp club flag… I make a U-turn and follow him into the parking lot, and, suddenly, I am back in Greece! The biggest ITT group from Greece (17 bikes), which had traveled through the Dalmatian Coast, is there, and they are joined a little while later by the “late” group (9 bikes), which were going from Venice to Salzburg in a single day’s ride, and of course our selves (4 bikes)… 30 Greek plated bikes and some 45 people turned the quiet Grossglockner peak into an Athenian rush-hour nightmare!! Loud and ecstatic, we turned all the heads of the unsuspicious travelers nearby… The other two groups had a rendezvous there, we were the cherry on top, it was really memorable…















We leave the others, who traveled north-bound unlike us, and had less road to travel, and continue south for the descend. A little later, we left the GG, 16 euros well spent!!















We had planned to eat before hitting the highway, but since everything was closed at that time (it is times like this that I feel homesick), we ended up exiting the highway to go to a random village, which was, as expected, tidy and clean beyond any reasonable comprehension… The funny thing is that Germany was even tidier, but for our Greek standards, Austria seemed like a sterilized hospital wing, an hour before the programmed visit of the minister of public health…

We had a great lunch, with the friendliest Dutch waiter (gotta love the Dutch), had one espresso, and soon we were back on the highway…





It was boring now, and we were tired, so the two capos got separated and we started to go a bit fast… We would wait for them at the highway exit, or so we thought… On the way to Salzburg there is a big tunnel and the toll is a whooping 9.50 euros, on the other direction the traffic had come to a complete stop (for unknown reasons) and the queue stretched for many kms. Everyone was calm, the auxiliary right lane was clear, and we didn’t hear anyone honk. We were taking pictures of this weird sight, in Greece it would have been a different story to say the least…



Back on our story, there was a radar speed trap at a narrowed section of the road which had a reduced speed limit of 80, the “fast” duo was blocked by a truck and we cruised by the two policemen at the civilized and legitimate speed of 75km/h… You guessed it. The two transalps were clocked at 112km/h (they were slowing down but didn’t use the breaks as is the norm there) and received a speed ticket of 35 euros… We had a good laugh later at the hotel, saying that Yani (stop trying to follow the names, 3 of us were Yani, better stick with the bikes) the rider of the ’96 TA600, would frame the ticket as proof that he can reach 112 with the “granny”…

The rest of the road was uneventful, except for the fact that I thought I had lost my bike key when we unloaded the bikes… Another interesting day was ending and it was nice that all Greek ITT groups (except for two individual bikers) were all staying at the same hotel.. The hotel was in Seeham , some 15 kms from Salzburg , and had been booked by another Yani (the same who had booked our Innsbruck rooms) for the unsurprising amount of 35 euros per night…

Tomorrow we invade Germany and reach Bischosmais!
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