Day 46 - Riding the Grossglockner

Sunday 10th August 2014 
The criminal Reavie

There is a new dynamic this morning. It's the deep thunder of the Ducati behind me, louder and richer than Mick's R. Lovely sound.
The Austrian police apparently don't share my view. Yesterday, less than 20 kilometres into the country Clive has been stopped twice. The first time, after a full document and bike check that produces no issues  the cop asks for his first aid kit.

 "Don't have one."

"Then you must buy one as soon as possible."

The second stop Clive is asked what gear he was in when pulled in.

"3rd gear."

"Then you must ride in the 6th gear, your motorcycle is too loud."

Well okay, it is loud but it's a stock silencer on a brand new bike with EU-approved markings on it, and made by a well known European manufacturer of motorcycles.

They are a law unto themselves are the Austrian police. 

Getting ready to leave GHQ

But at least Clive can continue on his way without financial penalty. He still hasn't got that first aid kit by the way. Not sure where you are expected to store it on a Ducati sports bike, as the under seat tray has just enough room for a spare set of keys and a mobile phone.

This morning we set out to ride the Großglockner Alpenstraße, the jewel in the crown of Austria's considerable stock of spectacular biking roads. 
On the road to the Grossglockner
Three Amigos

 It's a Sunday in August so not the best day to choose if you have a choice. We don't, so we will endure the company of the thousands of day trippers who drive here to marvel at the amazing views and broad, smooth winding roads.

The run from GH is a fast and pleasant 60 miles to Heiligenblut at the southern end of the Glockner toll road. The prices have risen again. It's €24 for a bike now, discounted by 3 with the hotel-supplied Kärnten card.

We tear up the southern approach flicking past cars and campervans with plates from all over Europe. It's a glorious sunny day, perfect for this high road.

We swoop and swing around the corners. Thrilling stuff. Michael Stipe's voice is stuck in my head. I've had worse!

"........I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try........"

The view from Edelweisspitze

Our first stop is atop Edelweißspitze, the Bikertreffpunkt that sits up on the highest paved point on the road. It's a side spur from the main road rising to a peak via a series of extreme cobblestoned hairpins. Take care here, some of the corners are so steeply cambered that you cannot get a foot down on the inside slope if forced to a halt by the idiot car driver in front.

After a coffee at the small cafe and gift shop there we twirl back down and complete the first run. We exit the toll and ride down to a restaurant a couple of kilometres outside the park. It's quieter here and better food and value than inside the toll.

Always snow at this height

Glockner tickets are for the day so there is no problem in exiting and returning as many times as you wish.

On the ride back up from the north we are slowed at the site of a recent accident. A big bike is being hauled out of a ditch, the sorry-looking rider sitting at the side of the road looking to be in shock but not apparently too damaged.

Lucky, I think. There are plenty of places on this road where such an accident would have fatal consequences.

It's a lovely sunny afternoon and the traffic has thinned out a little. We turn right not far from the southern exit and ride up to the Pasterze glacier. It is the longest glacier in Austria at 8.4km in length. 

Glacier selfie

Here fit and brave souls can walk down a tiny path to the glacier proper. It's a long, long way though and on my 4 or 5 visits here I have never seen the Seilbahn working. So not for us weary old men. We make do with gawping at the ice river from on high.

It's here that I acquired Erik the Marmot my, foul-mouthed constant travelling companion. If you've been following this blog you will have seen Erik quietly mouthing obscenities from his perch just inside my bike's screen.

Time's wearing on so it's time to head back. Clive has had his first taste of the Austrian heights and has managed a whole day in country without being pulled in by the law. We saw a helicopter this morning though and reckon it was a police spotter looking for a red Ducati without a first aid kit.

Worn out, we are in bed by 9pm!


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