After a morning stroll in good weather through the center of Muenchen–delightful–MOB and I met at the main train station a few minutes after 1PM for the 2+ hour trip to Sonthofen. As we disembarked at our destination, we saw 3-4 other passengers with their big Transalp duffel bags from a prior year.
We hopped a taxi to the Rafting and Adventure Center in neighboring Bihlerdorf, 2.5+ km to the Northwest from the train station. This would be our base camp for the two nights in Sonthofen — a lodge for outdoor adventure types, breakfast to be served at long tables in a big room. Here we can acclimate to the high altitude — 750 meters elevation which, if you don’t count the 10 minutes he spent on top of the Harz mountains several weeks back, is higher than MOB has been at any time since his move to Bremen last year.
We met two members of an Israeli Transalp team on the way in, and numerous other bike boxes were out in the bike storage area, but the riders are not in evidence–everyone else must be shut in their rooms, resting up for the big day. (Two more Germans have shown up this evening, from Dusseldorf, they look the part — hair cut to no more than 0.7 cm length, emaciated faces and pencil thin bodies.)
As it was already 4PM by the time we got into our room at base camp, we quickly assembled our bikes and headed into town, did one general circuit and then launched into our scouting ride up the valley to the Southeast, where the race will start on Sunday. We made good time as far as Bad Hindelang, where the road turned up, and we started to climb the mighty Oberjoch, towering hundreds of meters above Sonthofen and Bad Hindelang.
|The winding road of the lower reaches of the Oberjoch climb|
|Rain threatens as we ride along a high meadow near the Austria border|
My legs felt fresh all the way up. The clouds looked ominous, but we pressed on and were rewarded with dry pavement, and continued on all the way to the heavily fortified border with Austria! Another stamp in the passport, and we had successfully scouted the entire German Alp portion of the Transalp on a late Friday afternoon. One country out of three done, dead and over. Michael is planning to contact the organizers and see if we can start at the border on Sunday morning, since we have already done that stretch.
|Welcome to Austria!|
On the descent, we were caught by a heavy rain shower, but made it back in time to change into dry clothes and walk back into town for dinners of, respectively, gnocchi and weiner schnitzel.
|Rusedski crests the Oberjoch|
Michael insisted on the gnocchi, despite my suggestion that he would be sick of pasta soon enough, and eating any tonight — even of the highest quality — would only hasten the effect. The highlight for me was when 3 younger people (2 men and a woman) who had been eating nearby passed us to exit the restaurant. One of them asked me, „excuse me, but are you [former world #4 ranked men’s tennis star, retired in 2007 and still in his late 30s] Greg Rusedski?“ Sadly, I had to let them down — no, I am only an unranked amateur cyclist, not yet a world class athlete, but I often get mistaken for Rusedski when in this kind of alpine sporting village in summer. Maybe it is the hairline?
We enjoyed some excellent gelato nearby and walked the 3 km back to base camp in light rain showers and cool weather. Tomorrow morning, we get our credentials, repack our bags, and try another shorter scouting ride before meeting David J. and Juliane P. in the afternoon.