Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Down from the mountains into the valleys

Our last morning in Serfaus, and the last time we packed up the bikes dawned cool and cloudy. Mike observed that if Monday when we summited several exhilarating passes culminating in Stelvio, the highest paved road in the Alps, was like Christmas Day (one surprise and exciting moment after another) that today was like the last day of summer vacation before school starts. It's our last day on the bikes, and the mood is a bit somber knowing our trip is almost finished.

But first we have mountain passes to climb! We twisted our way down from Serfaus and rode through gorgeous green valleys. Then we started to climb again, stopping at Kaunergrat for breathtaking pictures of the valley we just passed through.

view into the valley

We went through the Hochtennjoch pass, enjoying views of snow-capped mountains. By now we know what to expect:  we start climbing in the middle of forests, with pine trees close by both sides of the narrow, winding road. As we climb higher, distant peaked mountains come into view and we're able to look down into the valley below. Finally we ride above the treeline right into the heart of the mountain peaks we've been glimpsing. All along the route we twist through sweeping turns, narrow switchbacks, and often through dark tunnels. Even though we've done this countless times over the past few days, every ride is a bit different, and always fun.


switchback on Hochtennjoch

Once back down in the valleys, we passed by two large, beautiful lakes:  Plansee where we stopped for a morning coffee break, and Walchsee where we stopped for lunch. The lakes are so clear we could see the bottom, and the scenery is breathtaking with the mountains in the background. Several of us wished we had time to go for a swim, even though the water had to be bone-chillingly cold.


After lunch we wound our way through the valleys, leaving the mountain peaks and switchbacks behind us. The open, wider roads gave Mike the opportunity to ride faster, and both of us enjoyed speeding along from town to town. Mike also amused himself by popping wheelies whenever possible. As long as he gave me some warning so I could wrap my arms around his waist and hold on tight, wheelies are great fun and always make me laugh out loud. When I don't hold on, my back is slammed against the tail bag which definitely is NOT fun. School has started in Austria, so we made sure to pop a wheelie whenever we passed a group of school kids, which always elicited excited waves and shouts.

We pulled into Lengriess, where we first picked up the bikes, in the mid-afternoon. It's difficult to believe our 12-day trip is coming to an end, but we have a final group dinner this evening to look forward to. Watch today's video here: The bikes may be returned to Martin BMW, but there is still fun to be had tonight!

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