Monday, December 29, 2014

Snowy Christmas Holidays Day 1

Whew, what a day. Dad had to be saved by the mountain rescue yesterday, as he got stuck in some really deep snow. His full explanation here (141228 Riedberger Horn). I heard about it yesterday evening and after ensuring he was ok and finding out he needed to go back up the next day, offered my help. Wanted to get some fun out of it, too. How many times do you get the chance to walk up the mountain, early in the morning before everybody else with a mountain rescue guide to help.
Dad picked me up at quarter to six this morning and we set of to pick up Klaus, our guide. Got him on the way in Oberstdorg and carried on towards the Riedberger Horn up a pass that you normally have to have snow chains on. As the company has a lot of business to do up there, they are classified as locals who don’t need it, as long as they have 4x4 cars. Reached the bottom of the lift, got all geared up with snow shoes that we had borrowed for this occasion and after a hot chocolate got driven up as near as possible to the top as Tom could get us with his quad. Klaus got taken up first, then me and Dad in the rear. Klaus up front so he could lay the track, as we where the first ones up, then me to harden it and Dad at the end as he was still knackered from the day before. He showed us the trench he got caught in and his touring skies are still in there somewhere, will stay there till spring probably. We reached the top after watching the sun rise on untouched powder snow, to find a biting wind and -15°C air temperature. We didn't stay up there long and picked up the generator Dad had left up there the day before. Reached the mast after another 500 metres and got warmed up in the shade of some frozen trees before getting the generator up and running.
Took a few attempts but we got it running and plugged in to the mast so it could load up the battery’s. Had some tee and cake to celebrate and then went back again. Back up at the Riedberger Horn Tom gave Dad a ring saying that the mast wasn't receiving any electricity. Brilliant, turn back around and after a few attempts got it running properly again. The weather was turning more grey and windy by then, the herald of the big snow storm the weather forecast had predicted for the afternoon. Sprinted back on two broken snow shoes (Dads right and my left), which had occurred somewhere on the way. We got back to the piste and as Klaus had had touring skies and was down a lot faster, he was waiting at the end with the mountain rescue skidoo. Took us both down and after getting everything packed up and the conformation that the mast was charged, took Klaus to Kempten so he could catch the train home.
After a hurried lunch I was rushed back to Nesselwang to get a picture taken so I could apply for an international driving licence in Marktoberdorf for my planned Australia trip. Drove to Marktoberdorf with Johanna, got that settled and on the way back where caught in the middle of predicted snow storm. Proofed interesting, as Johanna has no 4x4 and we where nearly flattened by a truck going uphill near Rückholz.
Reached home, got changed quickly and Johanna drove me near the ski lift where the ski teachers where training for the upcoming New Year demonstration. Skied my part and then went home for some rest before tomorrow.
Dads blog of this day can be found here and more pictures at Picasa.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

First Alpspitze Skiing

Finally it has snowed, as it should in winter. And luckily not just a bit but a lot. A load of traffic jams, car accidents and so on have happened in the area with all the tourists coming to us to ski. And to think we are so lucky and just have to walk for quarter of an hour to get to the lift. Daniel and me left early so we would arrive before most of the people. In the end we where the first on the lift and the first on the piste. Also the first to notice that the piste was full of snow cannon snow. It basically means “snow that will cause an accident due to sudden deceleration”. After we both got down all covered in snow we went right to the top and started of with the real fun of going into powder snow. We spent an hour up there going down next to the piste most of the time.
Once we noticed that there where to many people there we walked back home.
Finally winter is here and it still hasn't stopped snowing.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day Biking

Merry Christmas everyone. Weather wise it is absolutely sh**t here at the moment. Normally you would expect the Alps to be covered in a few metres of snow, but once again not this year. Third year in a row by now. Last year Dad and I managed to go skiing in tolerable conditions in Oberstdorf, but even they have no snow this year.
So we got our bikes out in 3°C. I picked up dad on the way and after we had got ourselves dressed up warmly set of up towards Sportheim Böck. Had to get rid of one layer of clothes at the bottom already, as we where sweating and the rest was spent biking up and talking about the world. Once we came out in to the open we where nearly blown over by strong winds, but we powered on. To top that we got some snow a bit over the middle station, but it luckily was only a few centimetres deep. Our tyres had no problem. Reached Sportheim Böck and got a Glühwein and some goulash soup to warm up.
Got everything on we had for the way down and we acctually didn't freeze on the way down. The wind had picked up and was throwing snow in our face, but not to much. Met Caro on the way up and had a small chat. All these weird Turnverein people going biking on Christmas day in rainy conditions. Had a stop in the Explorer hotel for a coffee and then went home for a shower and some turkey later. 
Pictures at Picasa, track at GPSies and Dads blog here

Monday, November 24, 2014

Egypt 2014 Video

As I had Daniels GoPro with me on the holiday, I did manage to make a video. It can be found at YouTube. I am not to happy about the quality, it does after all look better uncompressed on my own PC.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 7 Shaab Abu Dabab (Nummber 4)

After a maximum of four hours of sleep we got up and had some breakfast. Was well needed that and after that out to dive. I only have one dive planned for today and the other two also only did one dive. A Zodiac trip to Shaab Abu Dabab number four this time.
We where a rather large group this time and our guide was Hussein again. Some dolphins where spotted in the bay, so they do tend to be a rather common sight here. Got our things prepared and then went over to the jetty to fully assemble and border the Zodiac. Sharky, the donkey of the diving base which has been standing around the past few days, pulled over our heavy gear.
Whilst getting ready a few of us saw the tail fluke of the local manatee come up, so we can ad that to the seen list, even if it wasn't underwater. Driving out in the Zodiac we had no dolphins but at least three turtles catching air in the flat sea (near to no wind). One of our motors failed, but luckily we had a boat which was being driven by two. Arrived at our dive location and once again there was a safari boat there already. Nearly all the rest of the sea is empty and they just by chance go diving were we want to. Dropped of in to the nice cool sea and dived down to the corals on the sea floor. Once again a really nice dive site down there, lots of up, downs and diving around pinnacles of corals. Saw a Moreen eel, a few puffer fish, some blue spotted stingrays and a lot of butterfly fish.
Unfortunately we had two divers with us which didn't seem to care about the corals. Their most important target was to get a good picture, no mater if they destroy decades or centuries of coral work. Johanna and Jon told them underwater through sign language and pointing to stay clear of the reef and leave the corals alone, but they just ignored them and continued. On the boat we got the felling that they really didn't care about what they where doing. Saddening to hear something like that. Every time I accidentally even touch the corals lightly I hate myself for what I have done.
Back on land after that, took a while getting back with one motor. On land we had some lunch and then cleaned our gear before having a relaxing afternoon. That was our last dive of the holiday, as we have to be dive free at least twenty four hours before we take and air plane. Jon packed a bit already, but I left that for the next day. Had some dinner and then sat down with Michael, Uwe and a couple outside, so we could get eaten by the mosquitoes. Johanna and me went to bed rather early, as we had had little rest from the evening before.

Diving time: 62 min.
Diving depth: 17,3m

Friday, November 14, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 6 Shaab Abu Dabab, Ras Jon & Equinox House Reef

Woke up after Jon today again, before Johanna though. Yesterday was a long day. Pancakes for breakfast and then of to the first dive already. Zodiac trips to the reefs today and perhaps a night dive in the evening.
Going out on the Zodiac we found two dolphins swimming in the house reef bay. Rather unusual it seems, especially day times when they normally sleep. We also found Yvonne and their Safari boat out at the reef we where diving at. Another coincident, as the Shaab Abu Dabab is a reef complex of I think up to six reef. Said good morning and then went to dive with Salah. Fell in from the Zodiac and proceeded to dove through a cave right at the beginning. A long cave. I was a bit behind Jon waiting for Michael to follow me and when I looked back to the cave I only saw a black hole full of water. In I went and found Jon a ways in, waiting at the next corner. Out of the cave after hitting it a few times (unfortunately), but that seems to not be to bad, as the walls in there are coral sediments. Should try to avoid touching anything, thought.
Outside the cave we where greeted by a slow current going against us. Not to bad, but you do notice you are working and using more air. Johanna found a huge puffer fish, hiding under a coral and Salah pointed out a pyjama snail. After a while Yvonnes safari boat jumped in, just when we where crossing it underneath. And suddenly the water was full of divers. We had to leave the depths shortly after that as our one hour was running out. Proceeded back to the Zodiac and ignored some dolphins on the way back, seen a lot of them anyway (*sniff*). Had a quick break before Jon, Gerd, Salah and me went back in to do some exploring. As the diving station has not been here for to long, they also don't know where everything is. We where dropped of south of the base after a short trip, only a few minutes and dived down to the sandy bottom at about ten metres. Swam along the corals spotting a lot of rubbish. Apparently about three years ago a flood had come down from the mountain and taken a lot of rubbish in to the sea.
We found some lion fish and took a few short detours out in to the sea grass to see if we could find the manatee. No luck with that unfortunately, but we found something Salah classified as a turtle road. Just a sandy stretch from the open ocean through the sea grass to the corals. Resurfaced after a while, me luckily not having any problems with my cavities this time.
Back to the boat and then bay to have some late lunch and then to clean our gear.
After a short rest Johanna and me went down to have our night dive. Time about 5.30PM, the sun goes down very fast here. Jon wasn't joining us as he is frightened of none existent jellyfish. After gearing up and having our briefing it was Salah we went out with. Waded in to the shallow parts of the beach and assembled the rest of our gear before going under. Darkness all around us, but luckily we had torches with us. Spotted a box crab, basically a shrimp with long hair like sticks of it's body. Also some kind of snail moving in the water a bit away from the reef. Tiny little thing. Saw some glowing eyes looking out from the reef, shrimps hiding in the corals. Also a lot of sleeping fish, the glowing plankton (only a bit, as we didn't switch our torches of) and to the end a sea snake which was resting in about one to two metres depth. We got a bit lost and swam a bit further than intended so we had to walk a few minutes more. Some crabs on the beach as usual, a bit bigger than daytimes.
After that dive Johanna and me had an hour of rest before going to a beach party in the neighbouring hotel complex of Abu Dabbab. Where driven there by two entertainers from our hotel and stayed there till three in the morning before heading back for some sleep.
A map of the local reef site here (not very accurate), we are in the area of Marsa Ghaleb.

Diving time: 58 min. / 61 min. / 50 min.

Diving depth: 18,8m / 13,2m / 9,0m

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 5 Elphinstone, Marsa Abu Dabab & Port Ghalib

Early morning dive today. Hunting for shark in the local shark hotspot. We woke up at 5.00 o'clock to get to the base at 5.30 o'clock and to get our gear ready.
After that of to Brayka Bay to use their Zodiac as ours still has not received their permission from the police to use theirs. A rather fast drive to get there and we had a packed breakfast from yesterday evening to get rid of the hunger pangs. Arrived there and got our gear set. After that on to another big Zodiac from the local Extra Divers and of we where. A really long drive out to Elphinstone, lots of waves against us. We had a rather large school of dolphins on the way out, so we did a few turns to look at them. Once we arrived we saw four safari boats and zodiacs driving everywhere with divers. Weird bunch, divers. As we had two groups on board, Group 1, which wasn't us, got prepared to go in. I got confused and got ready, but realised soon enough that that wasn't my group, so I didn't accidentally jump in with them. Elephenstone is an only divers location. There are so many shark in that area, that snorkelling is forbidden. The sharks tend to leave divers alone (or are just curious) but snorkellers have I high chance of getting attacked from the bottom.
Dropped in to the water from the Zodiac and dropped under the waves after Salah gave the sign. Jon, Johanna, Michael, Gerd, Salah and me there today, so not to much. Elphenstone can also be rather risky due to strong currents. Underwater we where greeted by a drop off coral in to the depths of the ocean. Diving with a moderate current along the whole way with a wall to our right and darkness beneath us is a different type of diving to what we did till now here in Marsa Alam. Dropping down I noticed a painful sting in my cavities once again, have to get that fixed. Stopped at about 18 metres depth and let the current drag us along. Saw a scorpion fish and some big tuna but that was it for the dive. Nothing really special, especially no sharks. Probably scared away from all the activity going on. I though I saw a silhouette in the distance once, but blue water can be very difficult to tell. Exited and went back a bit disappointed, Elphenstone does have a reputation of having 70% shark chance. Another pair of divers on our Zodiac didn't stick to the reef, but swam out in to the open ocean and found an oceanic shark. Rather large, typical shark looking sharks that prefer the open ocean. Also on our way back we saw another large school of dolphins, seems like there are no dolphins in Dolphin House, the dolphin sanctuary in the area.
Reached Brakya Bay and de-geared before taking the mini bus back and having lunch in the Three Corners Equinox.
After lunch we where rushed by Salah to get to the neighbouring Marsa Abu Dabab reef. Good that we where rushed, as when we left the water there where tons of other divers, snorkellers and swimmers in the water. When we entered we had the beach and water for us. Underwater we dived over sea grass and spotted a total amount of eight sea turtles, a lot. Normally you see a maximum of two or three on a dive, but never eight. All where eating the sea grass. Apart from the huge amount of turtles we also saw a sepia (a type of squid), two lion fish, a crocodile fish and quite a few blue spotted sting rays. Going back to the beach we where greeted by swarms of divers and snorkellers coming the other way. Snorkellers, as the water wasn't to deep. Most of the time we where diving at about five metres. Exited back over the beach and cleaned our stuff before taking the bus back to the base and hanging it up to dry. A nice chat in the setting sun on the porch of the dive base and later back to the room to write the first part of the blog and to sort out the videos of the GoPro.
After that some more dinner and we weren't disappointed once again. Of to Port Ghalib after that, for some time in the town and the opportunity to barter. The ride there proofed interesting, as the whole bus was full of German speaking people. Once we arrived there we walked in to the town and the salesmen where all waiting like hawks on the side of their shops for some tourists to come. I don't like bartering that much, but Johanna and especially Jon seem to enjoy it a lot. Managed to not get anything in the end, as the only thing I would have got was seriously overpriced. Had a drink and after that where strolling back to the bus when who do we met? Yvonne, Johannas dive friend from last year and the person she went diving with in Lake Constant. She and her diving club are spending one week on a safari boat, going down southwards and stopping at reefs on the way to dive. We didn't have much time, so after a short chat back to the bus and hotel for some sleep. Next day three dives planned.
A map of the reefs here, we are in the area of Marsa Ghaleb. 

Diving time: 63 min. / 67 min.

Diving depth: 19,6m / 13,8m  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 4 Abu Saille & Marsa Murrain

Long sleep yesterday night, as I was pretty knackered. Jon woke up early again and had breakfast before Johanna and me, but at 8.30 o'clock we where all ready to go and dive. We had to take a minibus to get to our dive location today as their boat is not completely ready yet. Still some permission missing, but should be ready to go soon.
Arrived at our diving location, Abu Saille and there where already two or three buses full of divers getting ready to dive. Once we where up and ready we had to walk across some sand and rocks to get to our entry point. Dived in to a hole and had to proceed through a canyon to get to the outer reef. Lots of other divers around and it was quite some traffic going on down there. We carried on up north along the coral garden, lots of coral formations and small fish living everywhere. Saw a few puffer fish, but none that had inflated themselves. Not supposed to do that anyway, as it cant be done to many times. Found a hidden lion fish, probably sleeping as they tend to be night active. Hussein pointed out a pyjama snail, really small buggers that have a bright coloration. Back out through the canyon and across the sea floor to get to the car. De-geared and took the minibus back for some lunch and rest. Was felling rather knackered, so I had a lot to eat and drink to get the energy levels up.
Only Jon, Johanna and me today afternoon with Hussein as our guide for the Marsa Murrain reef. Got drive there by Mohammed and had the beach for us once we arrived there. Got geared up and after walking along the beach for a short while we walked across sand into deeper parts, where we could dive. Dived across a sandy bottom which dropped of after a few minutes under water. Really nice seeing that for once, actually. We normally get into coral reefs and get out at coral reefs (or stones) and this was really nice to dive along. We found three lion fish once we got to the corals and dived along those for a while. Turned back around after half an hour and on the way back we dived through another cave. Before that we saw a box fish (small one) and after the cave we had a salad coral full of Christmas tree worms. Once they fell some water pressure they disappear inside the coral in a split second. We lost Hussein after messing around a bit, as we where only about 4 metres underwater and had lots of air left. Raced back to him and got out to get back to the base in the mini bus again. Got back and hung our stuff up to dry and wrote our log books before going back to write all this down and to take the videos of the GoPro.
Dinner after that, once again very good, before we had one or to drinks and then went to bed early for tomorrow.
Map of the area here. We are in the area around Marsa Ghaleb.

Diving time: 57 min. / 63 min.
Diving depth: 23,8m / 21m

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 3 Shaab Ruhr Abu Dabad & Talala

Second day diving today, and what a day it was. Was woken up by a mosquito in the night a few times, but otherwise I slept until about seven. Jon woke up earlier and went to breakfast before Johanna and me so we had it a while later.
Diving was in the Zodiac today. To get to it we had to walk along the beach for about ten to 15 minutes, the beach being full of small crabs that run away once you get to near. Also some moving stones. Got everything geared up and then carried on to the Zodiac. Rather a long drive out, but with the waves being a bit high we had a form of entertainment. Reached our diving position and after getting everything on, which proofed to be a challenge on the small boat with nine other people, we tipped back in the water and where ready.
Dived down to the floor of the reef where the first mayor thing we saw was a sunken reef where everything was overgrown with corals. A blue spotted sting ray was resting under the reef. Carried on along and swam over and around some super boulder-like reef formations. Really have to understand buoyancy to have a lot of fun with flying down there. Went from one sandy inlet to the next and spotted a load of clown fish with their anemone. One being a really vibrant red colour, nearly neon like. Carried on and Salah pointed out a baby white tipped reef shark, hiding under some corals. It was moving around a bit but rested again shortly after we had found it. Looked at it a bit closer, but was told by Salah to stay a bit away as it was only small and wanted to probably sleep. Continued on and where led to the entrance of a canyon which we dived through after Salah asked if we where OK with diving under corals and through tight spaces. I felt bad going through there. Not because of the space, but because every time I squeezed through a tight spot I would hit something. Luckily no easy damageable corals, as it was the rock type, but still. After coming out we resurfaced and I unfortunately dropped a piece of led on the way up. Salah dived back down to get it, as I didn't have my flippers on any more. Once Ali's group had been picked up as well we went back to the base, Johanna spotting a lot of flying fish on the way. Back on the peer we just changed our bottles, went to have a tea and then back on to the Zodiac for the second dive. This time to Talala. On the way we spotted a shoal of dolphins and a rather large one as well. So the dive was postponed a bit and as we where the only boat around we jumped into the water for a few minutes of diving with wild dolphins. They disappeared after a short while and we where left in the blue before being picked up to get back to our diving location. Going down I noticed some really painful stings in the cavity of my nose so I did a small break and carried on down after a while. The pain stayed with me for about the whole dive but it was bearable most of the time. We saw a murrain ell and some monstrous (probably) sting ray which had it's tail cut of. We had to check that once we where back in the base, as not even Salah knew what it was and Ali's group didn't see it. Back in the boat without a hitch this time and then we where back to the base for good today. A sea turtle resurfaced at one point on the drive, but disappeared again very fast. Got our things of the boat and cleaned before writing to log book entry’s and having some late lunch. Got a bit of a head ache, so we will probably not do the night dive today.
Back from dinner now, managed to have a lot again, energy for tomorrow. The food here is actually very good and we often have a lot to eat.
Of to sleep now to hopefully get rid of the light headache.
A local reef map here, we are in the area of Marsa Ghaleb.

Diving time: 62 min. / 60 min.
Diving depth: 16,2m / 18,4m

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 2 Marsa Abu Dabab

First time diving today for this holiday. Also the check dive for Jon and me. Johanna dived in lake Constant this year, so this wasn't a check dive for her per say. Got all the gear, signed some papers with Mohammed and then we where of. Checked our Nitrox bottles and got geared up before going out in to the ocean. They don't have a jetty here so we walked over sand and stones to get to the deeper area. Seven people in total, six divers and one guide, Salah this time. Two of the six divers took ages getting in. The rest of us (four, Salah was helping the two) were chilling at the bottom of the ocean, as we had no idea where to go. After 15 minutes the rest finally arrived and we did the checks and set of towards some sea grass areas. Swam across sand and sea grass looking for the local manatee but no luck. No luck in seeing anything at all, actually. We took a left turn to the reef and spotted a huge sea turtle, with a diameter of about one metre. Carried on and also saw two spotted sting rays and a lion fish. Apart from the fish the corals are really nice here as well. The two who slowed us down before where running out of air, so whilst we where heading back Salah supplied them with air. Reached the top, walked back to the base and cleaned of our things with freshwater, wrote our blog and proceeded to lunch. Lunch being rather spare, as there are still only about 50 people here.
Back to get the GoPro up and running as the waterproof casing passed its test in the morning. Last years mistakes would not be repeated. Into the water with Michael as my diving buddy again and this time of to a faster start, me being the last one in. Started of along the reef strait away this time seeing a sea turtle towards the beginning. Smaller version than last time. Carried on along the reef with the GoPro on a pole, a lot better than on ones arm, I think. Can get close to a lot of fish without having to fear the consequences. Managed to get a few close ups of lion fish that way. The air consumption went up a bit as you have to concentrate on one more gadget you're taking with you. We steered away from the reef at about half point, after passing to through corals in a small canyon like arrangement. Back across the sea grass looking for the manatee again, but no luck once more. Ali arrived just today morning, went diving and spotted it strait away, lucky person. We met the group he was diving with and Salah took two stragglers with him which where lagging behind the rest and had little air. Got back to the beach and departed to clean our gear and to write our log books. After saying good night to the rest of the dive base of for some dinner and then had a long talk in to the evening with Uwe and Michael. Uwe being from Sonthofen and knowing Jon actually.
A local reef map here, we are in the area of Marsa Ghaleb.

Deepest depth: 14 metres / 16 metres
Diving time: 64 min. / 69 min.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Marsa Alam: Day 1 Journey

Back of to Egypt for a week again, once again with Jon and Johanna. Marsa Alam this time, as the diving base that used to be in Sharm el Sheik moved to here, probably because of declining tourism. Mohammed has got the management of the base now, as Tanja has moved to Switzerland.
Woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning and packed the few rests of my gear into my already stuffed suit case. Johanna and Jon picked me up at about 4 o'clock (after I fed the cats) and we set of towards Stuttgart airport after somehow getting my case and me in to Johannas small VW Fox.
Spent a while on the A7 motorway and had to find a way around a bypass on the road. Got lost in the fog a bit, but found our way thanks to the navi.
Arrived at our parking space and caught a shuttle to the airport, where we managed to get through check in and security after repacking some stuff of mine in to Johannas and Jons suitcases. I had overfilled mine a bit with to much diving gear and electronics.
Got on to the air plane without a hitch and spent four and a half hours flying to Marsa Alam. Had a small snack to eat on the way and 100ml of water but nothing else.
Landed and where hit by 27°C air temperature when we stepped out of the doors. Managed to get to the hotel with our suit cases fixed to the roof of our bus and where greeted by a friendly reception. The hotel (The Three Corners Equinox) had just been opened a week ago and was still being repaired from its previous neglected state. Had a drink, some cool towels whilst filling out our details for the hotels. Found our rooms, got a few things unpacked and went to the diving base to say hi to Mohammed, Sala and the rest of the crew. After that Johanna and I abandoned Jon to office work, whilst we went to swim in the sea. Mohammed commented it as being cold, at 26°C water temperature. Saw four fire fish, a puffer fish and a flute fish just whilst snorkelling. Got out, went for a shower and had some drinks before eating. Ate a super meal in the evening, thank god they renovated the hotel and had some more drinks with a shopping spree and a game of checkers after that. Back to the room for the blog write.
Looking forward to the next few days.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stubai Glacier

Yesterday biking, today skiing. Not a lot of places you can do that on the planet.
A few weeks ago, two fellow ski teachers asked if anybody from the ski teachers wanted to go skiing on the Stubai glacier today. A few said yes and some went during the week, but in the end it added up to being three of us. Set of early in the morning, whilst the night was still present and made our way to the glacier. Stopped at a bakery for some breakfast on the way and carried on. No traffic jam on the way, as we where so early. Normally it is the norm getting towards and in winter that the pass roads are blocked.
Changed, got our tickets and took a lift up to the glacier where we had sunshine, blue ski and not to many people for the whole day. There where a lot of people there, but due to the glacier being such a large ski area, it was distributed nicely across the pistes. We skied of piste a few times as well, but that didn't end up to well for our skies, as there seemed to be an abundance of rocks and hard ice there. Had a short stop for something to drink and then carried on skiing until lunch. As everybody was hungry at that point, the restaurants ended up being rather full, but we found a place to eat none the less.
More skiing after lunch but Christoph noticed his lack of sleep from the day prior and Marnicq was starting to fell the toll of skiing the whole day, too. After a few more runs we set of back home and got home fairly fast.
A weekend full of doing stuff and next week of to Egypt with Johanna and Jon. 
More pictures at Picasa.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grüntenhütte & Alpe Rossberg

I had not biked up the Grünten in a long time, especially to the Rossberg Alpe. It snowed for the first time about two weeks ago and as biking up in metres of snow isn't possible I needed to get it done in the near future.
I asked dad to come with me, so early in the morning (about half past eight) we set of towards the Guardian of Allgäu (a nickname of the Grünten). As it is November the morning was rather fresh, but most of the way going was uphill anyway, so we where warm. I also had a few layers of clothes on, planned to be of use when we bike down the Kranzegger Steig. Going past Wertach we only saw people with dogs out and about, no other people or bikers (cars don't count). Took a different way down the Kranzegger Steig, the old pass road. Reaching the bottom of the valley we turned left of the main road and started biking uphill. Biked up the north side of the Grünten, so it was the “colder” side, but going uphill you really don't notice. All around us the trees where in autumn bloom, lots of reds and yellows. Saw another biker and a guy working on a house, a near suicidal project on the first of November here in catholic Bavaria. Everybody is supposed to go to their relatives graves and not do anything else. Also saw more and more people walking up the Grünten (probably tourists) and another biker behind us when we where further up. Getting towards the Grüntenhütte was a challenge in itself, as going up the front is one of the steepest climbs I know which is still bike-able. If it weren't tarmac I wouldn't get up there. Reached the Grüntenhütte a bit before dad and had a chat with the biker in front of us on the way up. He was looking for a way to get around the snow field in front of us.
Dad and me had a rest at the hut, something to drink and some freshly cooked Wiener and Maultaschen. After that further up through snowy fields and melt-water streams. More and more people where appearing on the mountain, all on their way up to the war memorial. Dad and me turned away from the main route a bit further up and went down the backside of the Grünten towards the Rossberg Alpe. Along avalanched tracks and across snowy fields, Dad biked rather a lot and I got wet feet. Arrived at the Rossberg Alpe and had a nice long chat with Gabi and two friends of hers whilst having another drink and some cheese on bread.
Back down after a while along a interesting path in the forest, which was snowed up. Dads front wheel slipped on some ice under the water in a stream, but he kept control and biked on (I pushed once again, snow and me on a bike don't mix well).
After that a long run home around the Grüntensee, where all the people had appeared to take a walk.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa. Dads blog here.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Forgensee Sailing

Out sailing on the Forgensee today with mum and dad. Wanted to go sailing again before the lake runs dry for the winter. Unfortunately Daniel and Rhiannon couldn't join this time, so we will have to take Rhiannon out some time soon, as she is the only one that hasn't been yet.
Got their in the afternoon, as that is the best time to sail around here. The afternoon mountains suck the air towards them, giving us some strong wind. Sailing out of port we once again had near to no wind, but it picked up after a while and we where soon zipping across the lake at top speed some where near to 8 km/h. We tried (and managed most of) some manoeuvres to keep our knowledge fresh and fit. Apparently the worst time to forget sailing things is the winter after you learnt sailing, as you do near to nothing for those months.
After having a few hours of sailing we proceeded back to the harbour and rowed to land. On the way back home, mum bought some tickets for her and me for the EOFT (European Outdoor Film Tour), a series of small film in a theatre all centred around amazing things people have done. Dad couldn't join as he had spinning for that night. One of the guys in the film that climbs up cranes, buildings, etc. without harness was actually there and said hello to everyone. Late night back (after a park place chaos) and to bed for work the next day.
Dads blog here, where you will also find a GPS track of the weird way we sailed.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Last Thursday Biking

Last Thursday biking today. The days are getting to short now, so even when we start biking at 6 PM we tend to get back in the dark. So it was agreed that this would be the last “official” Thursday biking for Group 1.
Only four of us today. Heidi, Inge, Moni and me. We set of towards the Haslacher Alm via Bayerstetten, as the weather in that direction looked rather sunny, compared to the clouds pulling in from the east. Going up towards the Haslacher Alm we had some very good light for pictures and looking towards the Alpspitze we saw that it was covered in clouds. That would have been option two, luckily we took option one. Nearly at the Haslacher Alm Moni decided to turn round, as she wasn't felling to well and had been ill over the past few days. So the three of us continued on. Nearly at the top we had to go around some lumberjack machinery and tried to get up a steep bit near the end. We all tried twice, but only Heidi and Inge managed. My front wheel had no ground contact any more on both occasions, so I walked the last few metres. Then down the mountain on a slippery tarmac road and then through Wertach an up the Elleg for a bit. The sky had darkened considerably so going down the Naturwanderweg which has wet wood roots proofed to be challenging. Then the fastest way home via the Römerbrücke with our lights on. Came home and after a shower stayed up rather late, as Dad was having his birthday party at home.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reuterwanne & Fichtelhütte

Woke up due to Daniels alarm today, again. Really strange for him to be up before noon on a weekend, but work calls. Bright sunshine outside called me out of bed after about an hour. Dad had already gone of race biking, so I packed my mountain bike gear and was of. Biked up the Haslacher Alm first of all and met some people walking up, everybody being in a good mood due to the sun. Past the Alm and further on towards the Obere Reuterwanne. The usual way was closed, so I took a more steep route via the Stubentalalm. Reached that and met some people looking for the way, but being my first time up I couldn't help that much. Carried on towards the Pfeiferberg through mud and branches before meeting the main road around the back. Main road being a forest road. Meet nobody on the back side of the Alpspitze, completely different to the other side of the mountain. Carried on to the Dinserhütte and the first other people I saw was shortly before the Alpe. Up to the Fichtelhütte where there where lots of people and even some horses. On my way down I was let past the horses and carried on past the cross at the top, swarming with people and then down the front of the Alpspitze. My breaks didn't work to well at one point on the way down, so I stopped to let them cool down a bit. Dodged people everywhere once again and reached the bottom not spotting Daniel at work before biking back home to some lunch and a shower.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa, Dads race blog here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Short Himmelsreich Round

Woke up after a late night with the sun shinning through my curtains and Daniels friend banging on his window. He had his 19th birthday party yesterday evening and wasn't to receptive to sound input.
After having some breakfast and looking at the weather I thought that I could go for a bike ride to get the “Helium” leftovers out of my system. Johanna had a party yesterday and had two bottles of Helium, which proved to be hilarious.
As I had not done the Bärenmoos round this year I thought I would do that. Set of towards Pfronten and was caught in a few drops of rain on the way out as the sky had become a bit overcast since I woke up. In Röfleuten they had the annual “get the cows of the mountain” festival, so I had to navigate through quite a few people.
Shortly after that the uphill part started, not really to challenging, as the training over the year pays of. It was not possible to “legally” bike here a few weeks back, as the lumberjacks where all over the place. They left rather a lot of tracks, too. Met the first other biker at the top, as he raced past me. Then the infamous downhill part started. Coming down from Himmelsreich is a slippery track with a lot of large stones in the way. Managed down with a lot of breaking and biked back to Nesselwang, once again through Röfleuten. Nearly got lost in Kappel and arrived in Nesselwang just as it started raining.
Track at GPSies.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday "Quicky"

Thursday after the big tour(s) and we can still bike, or so we thought.
We started rather early today, 6.00 pm to be precise. Was a bit of a rush with so much to do at work, but I managed in time. Six of us started of towards Pfronten Kappel with the plan to bike up the back side of the Alpspitze and then take the trail down by the Gundhütte. On our way up a few things happened. I managed to make sure Moni, Hopsing and me had to get of, due to me not being able to bike on roots properly. Heidi got a phone call, which she thought was important, and it ended up being her contractor trying to sell a new product. And the highlight was that it started poring down half way up to the top. We stood in the cover of a tree for a short while, getting all our gear on and debating if we should continue up or not. At the flash of a lightening bolt it was said strait away that we would be taking the direct route down and home, also our tree had stopped providing cover, as it was raining that much.
Raced home in pouring rain new disc breaks not working all the time and had a schnapps at the Hoigarte to get warm.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Livigno Day 4

Last day in Livigno today, unfortunately. The weather has been a lot better than was predicted and expected.
We woke up and had breakfast a bit later than the day before as we had no time problems today. We left at some point and set of down through Livigno. The town is rather long, going from one end of the valley to the other and not really wide, as there are a bunch of high mountains around it. After some discussion about what way to go on a wooden bridge which was actually forbidden for bikes we carried on and turned left up another valley at the end of Livigno and on the shoreline of the Lago di Livigno, the massive artificial lake at the bottom end of the town. Biked uphill and I managed to take a bit of a more comfortable route. I was at the back and found a way around a forest where the rest pushed through, it was only about 200 metres, thought.
We reached the top after crossing the road and found a closed Alpe, so no last coffee there. What we found was a kitten and it got a few strokes from our group. We carried on downhill along a nice trail and did stop at one hut on the way for our coffee. Turned out to be the hut where Group 2 had stopped the day before. After that we carried on downhill along a step and stony path, but we all got down in one piece. My brakes where completely used at that point, so it was metal on metal with my disc breaks.
We reached the hotel after biking back up through Livigno and after cleaning and packing up our bikes, had a shower and then some lunch before the long journey back home came.
Another super weekend spent in the heart of the Alps and loads of fun with the bike group in our end of the year bike tour.
Track at GPSies, pictures from me at Picasa and more information here. Dads blog with Group 2 here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Livigno Day 3

Long and spectacular tour today. We had redone our existing 2000 metres tour, as it would probably be to much. Instead we would use a train.
We set of early at 8.45 AM, extra time that was sorely needed. Paulina and Hopsing being the fit people set of up the main road towards the Passo del Foscagno were we would met up with them. The rest took the lift up to the top of the mountain above Eira and biked down the bike park. We would probably have been better of with a downhill bike, but it was still fun none the less with our mountain bikes. After reaching and intersection of the road with the bike park we biked up toEira and the through the rest of Trepalle towards the pass where we would met the other two. We had to pass through customs and nearly all of us didn't have our passports, but we managed to get through without a hitch. Heidi overshot our meeting point a bit and had to bike back up the main road to get back to us. After we had all met up again we proceeded down a super trail, fun and still bikeable. There was a ridge at one point where I wasn't to sure if it could carry my weight, but I got over without causing it to collapse. After biking down the trail for a fair amount of time, we arrived at a forest road which we followed for a rather long time. Nice and flat so we burnt away a few kilometres. Hans had been here before, so we had an on hand tour guide with us. He showed us the glacier on the other side of the valley and lots of other stuff, still promising there would be more to come. A long uphill part after that, reaching the highest point of the day I think. Had some lunch and didn't spend to much time, before we set of back downhill. The next stretch that was planned would take us downhill for 1600 metres, so a long way down. We passed through what Hans dubbed “Paradise”, a typical Swiss postcard picture. Snow capped mountains high up, a lake underneath it surrounded by tress. And to top it of we had a brilliant run all the way down to the train station. Heidi had a flat tyre on the way down, but we managed it in a rather short time, thanks to Hopsings
expertise. We lost Hans and Hopsing a bit before the train station of the Bernina Express, the well known Swiss panorama train, but found them without to much difficulties and got on to the train.
That train can climb up cliffs. Seeing the first section of the line I thought it must be near to
impossible, but they manage. A lot on the train where in camera mode (tourists), including us, and we had fun getting rid of metres without doing anything. Had some proseco and beer, sponsored by Hans and saw a few spectacular glaciers. If only Switzerland wasn't that expensive. We got of at a train station at 2200 metres above sea level and biked downhill with a lot of wind against us. We had to bike downhill, but we left the road fairly quickly and proceeded up the last valley of the day. Took some time getting up that, but we reached the Alpe in good time. Didn't stop for a drink and carried strait on. Biked along the high mountains of the Alp, but to the end the ground greeted me again, as I had a crash, but nothing to serious. We reached the end of the valley and pushed down to the pass at the top end of Livigno. Rather dangerous situation as we had to walk over some gravely areas with steep drops to our left and not everybody is not bothered by the vertigo. We reached the bottom without incident thankfully and then had a nice long downhill run to the hotel in Livigno with a shower and something to eat.
Nicest tour out of three till now, but with lots of kilometres. You do have to count away the kilometres for the lift and the train and it ends up somewhere by 80 kilometres and 1600 metres in altitude.
Track at GPSies, pictures from me at Picasa and more information here. Dads blog with Group 2 here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Livigno Day 2

Woke up a lot fitter today, perhaps because I got beaten up by Dad in my half awake state. No problem as he got a few fists back. Opening the curtains I was greeted with what the weather forecast had foretold. Snow capped mountains and something ridiculous like 4°C.
Went down and had a huge breakfast, stuffing my self completely. Due to the weather we decided to do a shorter tour today, the one Group 2 did yesterday. Group 2 meanwhile where biking the tour we did yesterday. Still haven't heard from half of them how it was, whilst writing the blog. Set of down in to the Livigno valley first of all and then up the other side. Followed the advise of Group 2 at one point and took the main road instead of cutting across a field. I forgot/was to tired to fix my tire casing in the morning/last evening. We carried on along a trail, the rest of the group turning wrong at one point and having to push up to get back on the track. Minor problems like that are the norm with the GPS. We carried on along the trail, going uphill with snow covered mountains everywhere. The temperatures where far beneath ten degrees Celsius. We met some Italians which proved to be rather chatty. Problem being that only Hans speaks Italian, so he had to speak for the rest of us. We carried on along the trail and at one of the only curves we meet a rather large group of downhill bikers coming the other way. Seems to be paradise here for them, as they get so much offered.
Carried on along the trail, Hopsing and Paulina long lost. The rest of us stopped at a so called Schutzhütte, a hut which has everything in it. From food to water, tea, etc. in case you get stuck up here in a storm. We had a long rest whilst eating a lot and carried on after some time. Along the trail , down and up some super steep bits once again. Our jaws dropped when we saw some bikers bike up what some of us had not biked down. We reached the top and then whizzed down the track, my maximum being at 60 km/h, which is not that much really. Heidi, Hopsing, Hans and Paulina took a different route than the rest and biked through the bike park with its curves and jumps. They had to bike back uphill for a short way, but they said it was well worth it. We carried on along exactly the same track as the day before, only difference this time was that I raced up ahead because I was looking for a photo opportunity. I reached the field I had remembered from yesterday, before anybody else arrived, even Paulina and Hopsing. Got my pictures and we carried on, once again following the tour from yesterday. Moni had a flat tire on the way, but it was fixed relatively fast. Paulina managed to come up some bloody steep path, which Hopsig had managed last time we had bee here.
Instead of carrying on uphill we turned downhill, into the valley proper and along the river. Brilliant way downhill and lots of fun along the way. At the bottom we met the Group 2.2, consisting of Jon, Karin and Gabi which had taken the way home before Group 2.1. We stooped at a restaurant and had something to eat and drink. On he way back we stopped I Livigno for some shopping. Me for a spare tire casing and the rest for some other things before I biked back and had a shower.
Track at GPSies, pictures from me at Picasa and more information here. Dads blog with Group 2 here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Livigno Day 1

Once again, I am biking. This time it is with the group in Lvigno, Italy. We got all our bikes fixed up and ready to go on Wednesday, so the only thing we would have to do on Thursday was jump into the cars and drive of. Whilst loading the bikes in to the trailer we also heard the unfortunate news that Sepp wasn't coming, as he had a problem with his spine.
Thursday morning came and saw Dad and me saying goodbye to mum, as she had to go to work in the morning. Left the house at about 5.15 AM and met everyone at the gym, as we took four cars and some people where taking lifts with other ones. Jon and Betina with Dad and me in the car. Stopped at the usual places and had some scrambled egg & bacon in a motorway stop. Passed through some interesting tunnels and had to pay road toll atop a massive dam.
We reached Livigno punctually and as the weather forecast has foretold better weather for today, Group 1 was planning a rather large tour, considering we had lost a fair amount of the day driving here. Funnily Group 2 set of before Group 1, but we got started at about 10.30 AM. Biked a very short way downhill and then it went up already. And not just any uphill but super steep uphill. Most of us where pushing, don't know if Hopsing and Paulina did as they where so far in front already. We reached the top after a lot of uphill, passing through a bike park, mainly for downhill bikers.
After that racing alongside the main road on a trail, with a bit of uphill and a fair amount of downhill. We where putting our long clothes on and off a lot of times, as the weather wasn't that warm at 1800 metres above sea level. After that along and then up another valley, with the weather not looking that bad. We had to pass up some really steep bits, but once again most of us pushed. I thought the Dolomites where known for being steep, but they are not the only ones for holding that title now. Reached the top and saw a lake in the distance, which is were we where heading for. Downhill and then along the lake. We came to a crossing at one point but as we where planning the long route, went strait on. Had a short stop and ate all our food, before heading down along the valley towards our next uphill bit. We passed along another lake, the one which was created due to the dam we drove over before and strangely enough the water was flowing away from the dam, not towards it. Inge had a crash which thankfully proved to not be dangerous, as there was a drop towards the lake on the left side of us. We reached a zigzag course uphill and split up in to groups unknowingly. I had started developing a headache which was destroying my concentration a bit, but carried on. I went up
pushing and biking a bit and was joined by Hans and Heidi. Heidi and me tried to photograph a marmot, but it was hiding behind a stone. Have to see if it can be seen on the pictures. We reached the top and had a super view of the surrounding mountains, all bare due to us being above the tree line.
After that a downhill run, passing a closed Alpe, to the dismay of Hans. Karin lost her bottle at one point, but retrieved it. Once we reached the bottom we where back in the valley from before, three of four mountains managed. I wasn't in a good condition at that point, having a headache from who knows what and not being able to concentrate on the stony road. To add to the problems I got a weird puncture in the valley. Some stone had ripped a gash in to the side of the tire. We managed to repair it with a repair kit, but only provisionally. The next stretch uphill I pushed. Nearly all of the 400 metres uphill. Heidi, Inge and Paulina noticed my deteriorating state and drugged me up with anti headache medicine, energy bars and rucksack help. I reached the top eventually and we set of on the last downhill stretch after getting dressed up in all our long clothes. A last bike along the lake, Heidi staying by my side all the time as she had on the way uphill and then back to the hotel for something to eat. After dinner I wanted to transfer the GPS information from Dad and my GPSies, but fell asleep whilst the computer was starting up. Was woken up at quarter past eleven and just managed to get ready for bed before dropping over in to bed again. This time I really did fall asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Track at GPSies, pictures from me at Picasa and more information here. Dads blog with Group 2 here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Forgensee Sailing

I passed my sailing license the week prior to this one. There was a mix up with my nationality, so it got sent back before I received my “correct” one today. So, using the free time we had today, Dad, Daniel and me went sailing on the Forgensee, where I had trained for the license at the local sailing school.
Arrived and set out on one of the rental boats, the Mandarin, in nearly no wind. We where moving, but ridiculously slow, somewhere around 1 km/h if the GPS can be believed at those speeds. After a while and further out in the lake we got rather decent wind, managing speeds of up to 10.2 km/h. Also did rather a lot of manoeuvres and freshened up Dads sailing skills.
After we had sailed for about fours hours we returned and just in time, as when we reached land the wind died down.
Super day in front of the Alps on one of the largest laces in the are. Dads pictures are here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gundhütte and Kappler Alm

Last Thursday biking before the Season Tour with the bike group. This year to Livigno in Italy.
We set of with a surprising amount of sunshine and warmth, considering that for the past week we had cold weather, rain and even some snow on the top of the mountains.
Was racing up ahead with Hopsing through Wank, then Kappel (where I still get lost) and towards Röfleuten where we turned up towards the Gundhütte. That was where I lost my touch to Hopsing, so Paulina took over. No chance for me to keep up with those two uphill. Fell back to the rest of the group and was rather surprised that we where only seven people, when last time I biked with the group we where 13.
On the way up we had some brilliant views of the sun setting, highlighting the Alps which had some wispy clouds hovering around them. Reached the Kappler Alm once again and tried to get up the last steep bit, again (tried two times actually, both failed). Heti managed to get up somehow and Paulina got up this week. Hopsing had disappeared of towards the top of the mountain and after a while we set of down towards the Hoigart, where we had a drink and talked about stuff.
Pictures at Picasa.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Kappler Alm

Thursday biking again, and the days are getting all wrong now. At the start of the year the fitness fits well with the day/night cycle. The fitness increases and the days get longer. Towards autumn it the opposite with the days.
Lots of Group 1 people there today and a lot had a story to tell. Setting of towards the Kappler Alm via Kappel we had questionable weather once again. Overcast, but luckily no rain. After Kappel a step way uphill, tarmac luckily. A few of Group 1 had biked in the Karwendel area of the Alps. 2300 metres in altitude in total. And I had thought my 2050 metres on the way to Venice was a lot. Talked to a few about that as well. Heidi and some friends of hers biked the Stoneman tour last week and apparently they got so high up or so bad weather that it started snowing, in August.
Reached the Kappler Alm and carried on up towards Sportheim Böck and nearly to the top of the Alpspitze. Up a rocky steep climb only three managed to bike (Paulina, Hopsing and Heti) and Heidi fell over trying to get up, but all the rest got off, by free will or not.
Reaching the highest point of our bike we had sent Paulina of to the front and she spotted a red sun which we saw on our way down to the bistro. Went down the front and arrived for a drink just before night set in. Spent a while at the Bistro talking about tour, trips and biking in Livigno in September.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Time in saddle: 1 hour 36 min.
Average speed: 10.4 km/h
Distance: 16.77 km

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 7: Conegliano - Venice

Woke up today due to a machine doing something outside, a little fly and the alarms. Went down to breakfast and had a lot to eat and then packed up all our stinky clothes and set of towards Mestre, the city on the coast of Venice. Basically we hammered away kilometres on flat to downhill roads. After about one hour we where half finished already, stopped in some shade as we had 31℃ and had a bit to eat. We also followed a race biker a few times, us keeping up surprisingly, before he turned of a different way. Arriving in Mestre we spent a long time actually looking for a place to stay and after criss-crossing the town, found a relatively cheap hotel with internet. We had planned to spend the next day in Venice, but after finding out that the train fare is only 1,25€ we went over and had a look at the town. Got lost a few minutes in the city and ended up at the wrong end of town, as I had planned to head to St. Mark square. Even after asking someone with a map and asking directions we didn't find it. Just by chance after eating dinner we found the square and had a look around before heading back to the hotel in the (hopefully) right train to write the blog and have some rest.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Time in saddle: 2 hours 58 min.
Distance: 56.9 km
Average speed: 19.14 km/h

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 6: Valle di Codore - Conegliano

Woke up in our own apartment and got up to fog and no sunlight. Had a huge breakfast, to much for us to eat and then got packed up. The sun had not come out by the time we said goodbye to the b&b owner, so I had my long stuff on. We biked in to the town for a minute or two but then went whizzing down into the valley. Still no view of the mountain, the fog still hanging low. We got a bit confused as there was a sign warning about something in Italian, but as not the whole path had been marked we went around the warning tape. Further down the valley we found out why it was there, after going across a bridge and having a morning view of a church near to where we had stayed. The reason for the warning was, that there had been a landslide further down the valley. To get over some of the trees, dirt mounds or other things from the mountain we turned out to be rather acrobatic. It was a bit risky sometimes, but never life threatening. We travelled along the valley until we ended up at an old train line. They had ripped out the tracks and left the stones there for walkers. A few metres from where we had come out there was an old tunnel and the house of the tunnel warden or something similar. As we had some time we went exploring. A few metres into the tunnel the tracks started again and we found a sleeping bat in the house. Carried on along the train track, Nico playing the train. We reached a road a few hundred metres further along the rails and we followed that road for ages. Through old Italian mining towns we biked and the weather cleared up enough to actually see the massive mountains. For most of our journey downhill on that road we where alone, saw perhaps three or four cars on the way down as most prefer the main road a few hundred metres next to or under our road. We reached the end of the valley pretty fast and continued out in to the next large valley. Had a short break before carrying on. Biked through some orchards where I was disappointed by OpenStreetMap. No paths where it had said there where some. Turned around and biked all the way back to the main road and then further on. We turned back down to the river to bike along and in it. The tracks that where said where there, where there. Problem, they where the river. It had flooded and our tracks where submerged. Not enough to stop us biking, but enough to stop walkers. After nearly getting our feet wet a few times we went back up to the road. To get to a bridge to cross the river, as we needed to be on the other side, we had to bike through a quarry. To get there we meet our friend again, the river. This time I wasn’t so lucky and my left leg was dripping after falling in to a deep part. Whilst Nico photographed, I wrung out my sock and shoe, but still noticed the squelching. 
Crossed the river on a weird bridge, worked like traffic lights, and continued on along the river. At one part they let a lot of water come down from the mountain through a small hole under our path which caused the water to come shooting out very loudly. Continued on along more and more open fields and plains before having our lunch in the protected cover of a school. Planned moment there, as you could see a storm coming up. Sat through quiet a lot of the weather in our protected area before getting our rain clothes out and peddling in to the storm. All the way along the main road, up and down (had our lights on fortunately, you never know) seeing the imposing bridge structure which was a motorway spanning the valleys length. Arrived in Vitero Veneto and got our rain clothes off, as it was getting warmer and had stopped raining. A few minutes after we set of it started raining again and not just a storm, but a flood. The roads where under water, so we searched for a roof and found one. After the flood had receded a bit with it's weather we carried on, seeing the extend of the damage. Many local people where out taking pictures, so I think it was a very unusual storm. Carried on until Conegliano and after finding the tourist information closed where so feed up we found ourselves a cheap hotel (with Internet!). After having a shower went out for a pizza (again) before going back to the room for the blog and some rest. 
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Time in saddle: 4 hours 59 min.
Distance: 80.13 km
Average speed: 16.06 km/h

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 5: St. Vigil - Valle di Codore

Woke up to the alarm as usual and went to have some breakfast. At breakfast we met two other bikers which where spending the days biking around St. Vigil. After packing up all our things, getting out our rain gear (as it had started raining) and repacking our rain gear (as it stopped ten minutes later) we set of towards the Pederü house. Biked past the place the bike group had stayed four years ago and proceeded up a hill before going up along the valley. The GPS encountered some problems, so we took a few detours at some points. Had a few more metres in altitude thanks to that. We meet six bikers on our way up the valley, all German speaking. Had a chat and turned out they don't like water as they used every mini bridge across the stream we where following. They turned out to be a lot faster than us as they left us in the dust. Last time I biked up that valley it was blue sky and sunshine, but this time we had a very heavy cloud cover and getting near to the hut we where caught in a downpour. We stood under the Pederü house until the rain had receded, like so many other bikers. Had a good view of the concrete road our group had tried to get up four years before.
After the rain had turned of downpour mode we set up towards the Rifugio Fanes. A way up where we met a lot of other bikers. On the way up, the clouds lifted a little and we had some sunshine moments in the dolomites. Stunning views as I remember them. Nico had a small competition against two women and I (tried) to keep up for the most time. The sun shone over us for a while on the way up, so that kept us sweating. Reached the Rifugio Fanes and ploughed on to the top. Reaching the top (after passing a very Scottish/Welsh lake -> misty) we put our long and waterproof clothes on, enjoyed the view (50m sight) and biked down to the Malga di Fanes Grande where we had a very good lunch. Just at the right time as well as it started raining a bit again. We also met our six collogues from before again. We had overtaken them when they had some breakfast in the Pederü house. Going downhill we where greeted with sunshine again and a very rocky track. Typical Dolomites again. Some spectacular scenery again, but we had already reached the bottom in the valley of Cortina d' Ampezzo. Biked through forest, along riverbeds and even on an old airfield towards Cortina. Lots of people in the area again. 
After following the bike path in to Cortina we had a short break to eat our sandwiches from the morning. Passed a lot of people, some strange some not and Nico got a picture of a car. We rolled down most of the time, just sitting on our bikes and letting the bike do all the work. There where some parts uphill, but they where few and far apart. We managed a lot of kilometres that way, but it felt really slow to me. After some time we started looking for an overnight possibility but the first place we found was a bit over our budget. So roll to the next town we did. Also nothing there. It complicates the situation a bit when Nico and I can not speak Italian and no one here speaks English or German. After rolling on, asking at a bar and then a tourist information we finally got a place located just about next to our track. Very cheap considering we got a whole flat for ourself. TV, kitchen, etc. everything there (except internet of course *grumble*, but we had had no luck what so ever with that in the Alps). The owners even drove us to the nearest supermarket and then to a very good pizzeria. Very friendly people, with lots of forthcoming help. Thank you again to the Rosa appartamento in Valle di Cadore for all they did. After stuffing ourselves with Pizza we went back to watch a DVD. Then to bed and to write the blog.
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa

Time in saddle: 5 hours 36 min.
Distance: 69.28 km
Average speed: 12.37 km/h

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 4: Kematen - St. Vigil

The big tour today. A climb from our hotel at about 1300 metres above sea level, to a pass (Pfunderer Joch) at about 2500 metres above sea level. All in one go.
But before that we had to wake up and eat some breakfast. Had a rather large assortment we could choose from, even some cake. After stuffing ourselves so we would have enough energy but not be weighed down to much we got set, paid and set of on our bikes. A lot of people had said that getting above tree level on the Pfunderer Joch is fu****g steep and it is not to far from the truth. I have biked up steeper before but not over that length of time. At one point there was a cow fence and someone had written "only 800 hm left" onto it, so we where working ourselves up, slowly. Apparently it gets easier after reaching the top tree level at about 1900 metres above sea level. The task from then on was to have enough power or skill to be able to get up a rocky track. Shortly before we left the tree line it started to rain, meaning not a light drizzle, but a downpour. It carried on for a bit of a time period, enough so we got drenched. You don't notice the rain after a while any more, because you don't know what is rain and what is sweat. At the same place we stayed a group left up the same way we did about half an hour earlier, but we saw no head or tails of them. We did see a Alpe on the way up with two vehicles in the vicinity, but otherwise we where completely alone. The higher we went the more it appeared we where in the Scottish highlands. We where chased up the mountain by some clouds threatening us with rain, but they where mostly driven back by the wind coming the other way. At one point we had to cross a river and because it had rained rather a bit the night before we stood in front of an un-bikable challenge. Solution: shoes of and walk through five degree Celsius water, in the middle of no where with only us two in the area. After nearly freezing our toes of and getting the shoes back on we continued up. And up and up. Higher up I heard a marmot about 30 metres away and I got as near as 20 metres to get a picture before it disappeared. They tend to be rather shy creatures (I think) and don't normally let people that near to them. Carried on up and met some strange cows. Acted like they don't know what bikers are. Shortly before reaching the top we had to start pushing, when we heard a helicopter coming nearer. Flew right over our head and it looked like it had a camera mounted on the front. It hovered over the pass for a few seconds and then flew back over us before flying over to the next stone wall and carrying on along that. After quiet some more pushing we reached the snow field at the top and had a super view down the valley we had come from and no view down the valley we where planning to go. Cloud cover again. After getting wrapped up in all sorts of long clothes (it was 8℃) we took a few pictures and then went down the other side. The first few metres where spent walking but then it went over into trail biking. We got lost a few times and where stopped by some even stranger cows than before, but had a super bike down to the next Alm with Nico biking a lot of the trail, sometimes some that looked like they could brake the bike. Down past the Alm and further on. We saw one bright green blob (biker) coming down from the Pfunderer Joch but otherwise no soul up there. Underneath the Alm there was a large amount of campers and the strangest cow. It ran away from us for a few hundred metres, down the track we where biking. Not left or right turn, just strait. We eventually managed to get past it with the help of to unknowing hikers. Strange thing was, it carried on following us for a while. Zoomed down into the valley, past rock outcroppings and down tarmac roads. 
That was also the time we started looking for a place to eat. Found lots of inns, but all of them boarded up. We eventually had lunch in a Pizza restaurant just before it closed. After lunch we got rid of the sand in our socks from the river crossing in the morning and put our long clothes in to the rucksack. We half heartedly continued on along the main river towards Bruneck. Instead of following the bike path all the way we took a detour through a near forest. Lucky in that situation, as just when we passed under the forest tree line it started raining again. Thanks to our tree friends we stayed rather dry. After getting back on the bike road we continued on to St. Vigil. I was there with the bike group four years ago and biked up the same way Nico and I where going up now. I was rather surprised once again how the valley turns from normal valley in to Dolomite valley, steep drops and villages on the valley sides. After rather a long uphill bike we saw the first signs of the Dolomite mountains in the distance. Underneath that St. Vigil. After a downhill run to the town we found a room rather fast and while Nico went shopping I had a shower and then wrote my blog. Searched for dinner for some time (and WLAN, but found none) but got some in the end before going back for the night. 
Track at GPSies and pictures at Picasa.

Time in saddle: 6 hours 2 min.
Distance: 65,33 km
Average speed: 10.82 km/h