I wanted to do this for ages! This cycling path belongs to the most beautiful cycling paths in the Alps. You can cross the mountain region relative easily on this route. Of course you still need to do a lot of climbing, but you can avoid the 3000-4000 m peaks. An average man with an average fitness level can do this. You will meet with billions of bridges, mountain peaks, endless and calm paved and gravel routes along rivers. This is an adventurous cycling journey. You can ride it with a road bike, but I recommend 28 mm tires to feel yourself comfortable.
Location and date:
I bought different train tickets in advance, uploaded the track to Garmin, I fastened my sleeping bag and matte on the handlebar, packed the most necessary clothing and skincare items, charged every electronic device. If you leave your home for multiple days, you have to do a lot of things beforehand. My journey began on Friday afternoon on a train. I met with Sigi, my Austrian friend in Salzburg. We are going to ride together.
First Day: Along the River
As usual, the tour started with small technical problems. My gopro fell down and its mounting piece broke. After that the zipper on my framebag wasn’t working well.
The scenery was magnificent. Ups and downs, paved and unpaved sections followed each other. Thankfully Sigi already rode this cycling path and he was a good leader. We ate in one of the local restaurants before the darkness broke in. The menu was Frittaten Soup and Salzburgschnitzel with some kind of potato croquettes. And with some beer of course! We should have stayed hydrated. We cycled in the darkness for a couple of hours. The temperature was pretty chilly. We found a cozy place in a village (Dorfgastein) and we slept under the roof of an office. I slept in my clothes, because 7 °C at night wasn’t comfortable at all. It was below the comfort temperature of my sleeping bag.
Second Day: Tasting the Alps
It was so cold in the morning. Sleeping outside at 800 meters in September wasn’t really a heart-warming feeling. The bakery opened at 6 am, so we got a warm tea and a couple of bites, before the steep uphills bit our legs. Bad Gastein is a wonderful tourist town. Monumental hotels, waterfall in the middle of the town, cafe houses at every corner. It was really quiet in the morning. The road ends after the town. Cars, cyclists and passengers have to catch a train and go through the tunnel.
On the other side we had a really fast and enjoyable downhill. Slowly the sunlight warmed us up. Instead of warm clothes, sunscreen got on the skin. A quite zig-zag path takes through the river valley. Sometimes gravel, sometimes asphalt.
In Villach I tried to cool myself down with some ice creams. My mate decided not to do the Italian part of the tour and went home. I think my pace was too slow for him.
I reached Arnordstern just before closing. I bought some food and batteries for my Garmin sensor. After the rest I continued my journey. This was my first time in Italy. After Tarvisio begins a motorway for cyclists. I cycled for a couple of hours in the darkness and I found a half made house beside the cycling path. The canalisation and piping weren’t yet complete. It was a perfect shelter.
Third Day: Italian Landscapes
I already did a couple of bikepacking tours, but this place for overnighting was absolutely superb. They even put wood to the wall for my bicycle handlebar. I didn’t wanted to leavy any marks on the nicely painted walls. I really needed some kind of cover against the rain, because it rained a lot at night.
Before noon I made the most beautiful part of the whole tour. It was a really good mixture of cycling path, bridges, rivers, valleys, mountains, steep cliffs and tunnels. I got lost a couple of times, but I always found some kind of unpaved road.
I left the mountain area slowly like a snake. Gravel and paved roads followed each other. If you are in a hurry or you want to ride fast, this trail is not for you. But if you are into adventure, you have found your dream trail.
Buying food in Italy on Sunday wasn’t easy. Fortunately the path crossed bigger towns, where I was able to refuel. I went through numerous small, but nice villages. Almost every town had a water tap. Refilling my bottle was necessary. I tried to cool my body down with beer, cold drink, meal, ice cream, but nothing worked. I had to make a longer pause at a cemetery (not so long… yet… haha), where I washed myself and I put my wet towel on the top of my head. Slowly I felt myself better. Due to the heat I reached Grado just before sunset.
There were a billion people. It was a strong contrast to what I experienced during daylight. I took a walk in the sunset and tried to leave as soon as possible. I cycled to Monfalcone with Fantaenergy. I was pretty tired and my phone, gps and light were running out of battery. I slept at a parking loot. This idea was liked by dozens of mosquitos. At 2 pm even a boar visited me. It was pretty loud. I was able to hear it for a long time after it ran away from me.
The bike handled this challenge well. It was advertised as a city bike. I think this rig is perfect for touring purposes. Who the hell would buy a Di2 and Gates equipped bike for shopping in the city?!
The weather was nice during the whole tour. I haven’t washed the bike nor the belt. The 28 mm tires were too narrow to my taste. If they wear down, I will get dicker tires.
Bathing in the sea was a really nice feeling. I cycled in the cold, and in the heat for almost 3 days. My hair felt like a fatty haystack. The temperatur of the water was around 24 °C. It was pleasant and salty. I missed this feeling of how easy it is to float in salty water.
This is one of the nicest and easiest way to cross the alps. I would recommend this tour to everyone. For your own enjoyment, you should hit these road with at least 32 mm wide tires. You can do it on a road bike, but you have to pay extra attention on the flat, sharp corners. You can lose traction easily. This is a week-long bike adventure. In this case you will have enough time for other programs and sightseeing.