What are we getting ourselves into? Do people think we are really crazy cycling through the alps? We should be in a warm cozy house right now, not riding up into the Alps on a bicycle in February. These were the thoughts that were going through our heads when we departed from our Warmshowers host in Efrizweiler. We had two relaxing nights in a warm bed and were now heading for Austria while James had been and Alice was going out ski-touring.
Cycling down to the Bodensee was nice although we didn’t see much because of the fog. Apparently this fog is very familiar this time of year and people even can get depressed because of the lack of sunlight. The day cleared and before we knew it we were having lunch in the city Lindau with a nice view of the harbour. On we went to again follow the Rhein. We had difficulty finding a place to stay, heard a few ‘no’ and ended up in a meadow with two people who confirmed that this area of Austria might not be so open. This we could imagine being a border region. We slept near a small shed and were happy to continue our way to the Alps.
Wednesday we were ready to start ascending, although the beginning would be easy going. We cycled up to Feldkirch and had lunch at a small butcher before continuing to Bludenz all along the river. Outside of Bludenz we slept on the side of a small forest track with the first snow and ice on the ground. The next day the real ascent would start.
We woke up early because this would be the day we would conquer the Arlbergpass. Before taking off people said it wasn’t possible to cross the Alps on a bicycle in winter. Also now a lot of people ask us if it is not too cold. Why would it be too cold to cycle if it isn’t too cold to ski? We are very lucky with how the weather is and has been. This has definitely been in our favour. Because of the mildness of the winter the pass is open and we can continue. At one point we came across a tunnel of more than one kilometer. There was a service road that looked okay and we prefer not to take tunnels with the bike. But after a short section which was cleaned we ended up in a lot of snow which meant a lot of pushing the bike. We had good luck with the beautiful weather and enjoyed being out in the snow. Even running into some skiing people on this road, which is also why it wasn’t cleaned.
The last 400 meters up to the pass at 1800 were tough. Traffic was loud and didn’t give much space. Also the road was quite steep and the wind was hard and in our faces. Susanne had a short breakdown because of the tension but we were going to get there in the end. At around 4 pm we reached the top and were very proud to have done this mid winter. Descending down to Sankt Anton we again were confronted with a lot of skiing people. You can really see it is big business. Over lunch we had a talk with a lady working at the skiing office and sitting in the sun, which was quite interesting to hear her view of it all. She was not very positive: a lot of money, a lot of people… And when you cycle from village to village the feeling is the same.
Finding a spot to camp again was difficult because there were ski pistes everywhere. We ended up in a small area with a lot of trees to hide ourselves. Apparently this was the public loo for the ski and langlaufroute. We were surrounded by poo and were not very happy. It should have been our dream setting in the snow but was one of the worst places until now… The next morning it was snowing and we knew we were going to follow the busy road again. all cycle routes have not been cleared of any of the snow. Slowly we began to descend and before we knew it the snow had cleared and the road was nice and smooth again.
We wanted to take it easy because of the climb the day before. So we had a snack in a small village, a bratwurst at a specialized local butcher near Landeck and ended up in the area of Pfunds. We were considering to take a room for the night but decided we would camp out anyway. it was our best camping spot until now! We had the best view on a small plateau and it was great! the only thing was it started to rain and it wouldn’t stop anymore. We had the tarp over our heads during cooking and dinner and went into the tent very fast. In the morning we opened up the tent and were amazed because everything was white with snow again! This was the perfect spot and this was really what we had in mind of the Alps. Cold, tough, good experience, snow, sun and the best views. Why wouldn’t anybody go cycling cycling through the Alps in February, it is amazing! See our photos from the trip Bregenz to the great Alps and Alps to Reschen Pass