Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Alps - Day 4 - Dornbirn to St Anton to Berggasthof Bodenalpe, beyond Ischgl

 
 
 
 
 
Saturday 22 August 2015

50 km, 1730 metres ascent, 7.25 hours including about 2 hours breaks.

Weather: sunny periods and warm - perfect for mountain biking.

It was good to finally be in the mountains after the long drive through fairly nondescript countryside, blighted in Germany by numerous motionless wind turbines, standing in silent groups like monstrous sculptures.

After driving up to St Anton (50 miles, 1.4 hours), our seven TransAlpinistes, already reduced from eight by Dieter's illness, assembled for the off:

Rouven, our guide
Markus, assistant guide and 'Tail End Charlie'
Daniel, Thomas, Emanuel, Claudia and me - the tourists.

Having met Rouven at Dornbirn railway station at 7 o'clock, by the time we had assembled at St Anton we were in need of a breakfast. So after riding for about 1 kilometre we wisely stopped. For breakfast. Very nice it was too. Coffee and bread and butter.

Then we set off at 9.45 past masses of people about to set off on a mountain bike race. That was the last we saw of them. They weren't going in our direction. Unlike my 2010 TransAlp when Markus and I found ourselves ahead of the peleton.

The long ascent up the pretty Schönverwalltal valley was easy for most of the way. Frequent stops for photos were in order. Conditions were as good as they get. I was at the back, but not too far behind.

The rough track eventually turned into a muddy rocky path. This is my territory and I was soon tracking Rouven and moving steadily ahead of the others, who were pushing or carrying sections that Rouven and I were attempting to cycle. Rouven was more successful at that than me, but I was pleased to be enjoying the technical ascent.

Eventually we we forced to push for part of the way up to the Neue Heilbronner Hutte at 2300 metres. Those behind me were baulked by cows.

it was nice to have lunch at the Hutte without the smell of muck spreading wafting over the sandwiches, as it had done on my picnic stops during the journey to Dornbirn. 

The descent to Ischgl - a good 20 km, was almost entirely downhill, mostly off road. Absolutely brilliant.

Ischgl provided a bike shop into which several members of the party rushed their bikes. Repairs and maintenance were duly provided, much to the relief of Daniel and Markus in particular.

We all enjoyed coffee and applestrudel or coke and cake or whatever, in a nearby café.

Then a thrutchy (don't you just love that word) ascent on steep tarmac led up another 500 metres to this fine mountain guest house at above 1900 metres.

5 pm. Beer o'clock. Then a leisurely evening with an excellent meal - fridatten soup (pancake strips in beef stock), schnitzel with a lovely cream vegetable sauce and pasta and salad, then a cake and cream dessert.

An excellent start to the trip. It's a really good group to be with. We have bonded well and are ensconced in two very smart and well equipped rooms for four.

I won't mention the sleeping arrangement for want of causing a scandal.

Today's pictures:
Milling around in St Anton
3 pictures taken during the Schönverwalltal ascent
Berggasthof Bodenalpe

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Friday, 21 August 2015

The Alps - Day 3 - Heidelberg to Dornbirn

 
 
Friday 21 August

It's worth visiting Andrea and Thomas for the breakfast alone. I think the presence of a visitor inspires them to visit the deli, the bakery and the cheese shop and come away with all manner of mouthwatering meats, cheeses and breads. Thanks go to them for looking after me in such fine fashion.

During yesterday's walk I expressed my disappointment that they weren't taking advantage of the great bike trails around Heidelberg. They must have anticipated my comments as today they both have a day off work and will tour the local bicycle emporia in search of hybrid cycles. Andrea may even get one with an added electric motor - such bikes seem to be increasing in popularity.

By 10 o'clock I was on my way on the very leisurely drive to Dornbirn - another 230 miles, bringing the Timperley to Dornbirn tally to 970 miles. It's a good job I quite like the occasional long car journey!

Dornbirn - sunny, 26C hot, 4 pm, coffee with Markus. He has a brand new bike. We are both excited about TransAlp 2015.

We quickly adjourned to the Fetz Restaurant for dinner with a view to the peaks of the Bregenzerwald, before returning to Markus's apartment for an early night.

The pictures:
Breakfast
The Bregenzerwald from the Fetz Restaurant

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The Alps - Days 1 and 2 - Timperley to Heidelberg

 
 
 
 
 
It started with a trip to the dentist, as planned. A long root canal session was abandoned in favour of running repairs, with Afzal being particularly meticulous in front of a student nurse who was practicing on me.

Meanwhile, I was worrying about how I would manage for three weeks without this phone. I'd intended heading straight down the motorway after my teeth had been sorted, but a trip home eventually located the phone in a drawer into which I'd shovelled the contents of my desk and a load of bubble wrap that must have muffled the phone when I rang it from the house phone. I'd left myself five answerphone messages!

The journey to Ashford went somewhat better. Even the M25 was moving smoothly. I finished up on le shuttle an hour and a half earlier than my booked time.

Time that I lost around Dunkerque driving around searching in vain in the dark for the hotel I'd booked. I even resorted to a McDonalds for food!

The 'Premiere Classe' was in name only, but it was at least clean and quiet.

And, whilst composed of basic ingredients, the breakfast was of the 'enjoy as much as you can eat and drink' genre.

A warm, sunny day was quiet on the roads apart from a short stretch around Brussels where some lorries had exploded. Heidelberg was reached after 400 miles, at 4.30pm, via some autobahns that confirmed that the Skoda can't quite reach 250 kph. Andrea's kettle and tea pot soon provided necessary sustenance.

Thomas arrived home from a stressful day at work (problems with two ink colours) and we all relaxed into a 9 km stroll through the woods and down to the River Neckar.

Klosterhof Heidelberg wheat beer preceded a delicious pasta and salad back at base. Meanwhile, in Timperley, Sue was ferrying hanging baskets and tubs of flowers to various friends for 'watering' during our absence, Andrea and Thomas having moved too far away to carry out the house minding duties to which they had become accustomed as neighbours of ours in Timperley.

So far so good... The bike is still intact in the boot of the car.

The pictures:
Top two - taken from the same place near Ashfotd
Andrea and Thomas and the village outside Heidelberg in which they now live
The map that Andrea insisted I include, showing Heidelberg as the walking capital of Europe. ...

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A TransAlp Bike Ride

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It’s all go.

I’m just about to set off from Timperley to take part in another TransAlp bike ride.

Just by way of a point of reference, the record of my 2010 ride is here, and in the above photo.

This trip promises to be a little more sociable than GR11!

Next posting

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday 16 August 2015 – Bike Ride – Marple and Lyme Park

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The reason for all these bike rides will become apparent shortly. Today’s outing from Rose Hill in Marple was on yet another lovely sunny day, but thankfully lacking Pyrenean style heat, pressure sores and all that jazz.

I headed for over 6 km down the Middlewood Way, together with a large congregation of walkers, runners, horse riders and other cyclists. We did actually congregate for some time whilst a farmer moved his herd of Guernseys from a field on one side of the track to one on the other side.

Zooming past Higher Poynton Station, where previous rides have left the old railway line at Nelson Pit, I overshot the next exit and did a few ‘there and back’ kilometres before leaving the railway at a small car park after getting stuck for a while behind a fat, deaf man on a very slow bike, and heading down under the canal and up a hill. Doubling back to the left took me to the bottom of a hill, where a gate to the right (the West Gate) offered access to Lyme Park, and a steady pull up a rough track to another gate.

Beyond here, tarmac leads to the Hall, pictured above. This cycle route goes fast past the car park before doubling back to the right to face the hall as shown, looking back at the shocked faces of those who have just nearly been decimated by the silent but deadly Stumpjumper (my bike – the bell does work but people don’t seem to hear it).

Further up the hill the tarmac gave way to a stony path with views across Cheshire beyond the square hunting lodge on top of a hill that can be seen for miles around.

1603LymePark1

The track drops down to the East Gate, then a rough section goes down to the old bridge shown below. This bridge has recently been deemed unsafe for vehicular traffic by the Highways Agency. A footpath, on which my bike is positioned, has been constructed to by-pass the closed road. This is no good to horse riders, nor to the farmer who travels by Land Rover to shepherd his herd of sheep. So the fence erected to block the road is constantly being pulled down. Apparently some locals think it should have been demoted to bridleway status and not closed off, though that still wouldn’t be of much help to the farmer. The footpath proved too narrow for both me and my bike, resulting in a few skin rips from Stumpy’s sharper protuberances.

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A steep push from the bridge over slippery rocks led to roads (turn left at the first road, then right at the junction) that traversed high above New Mills and Furness Vale, dropping eventually towards Whaley Bridge.

There were fine views down to New Mills and across the valley to Kinder Scout.

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A fairly obscure bridleway* took a left past a 4x4 that was virtually blocking the rose bush lined route (more scratches), just before entering Whaley Bridge. This leads down to Furness Vale, where the Peak Forest Canal provided my next conduit. I could alternatively have taken the road into Whaley Bridge and picked up the canal there, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun as on the rocky paths I took.

The towpath passes large mooring areas before reaching New Mills and passing the unmistakeable aroma of Love Hearts emanating from the sweet factory, pictured ahead in the next image.

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I turned right at the first bridge after the sweet factory, along a track that led down then up to Hague Bar. Straight across the main road there, and the last serious climb of the day took me at walking pace behind a couple of nervous hikers who thought they were about to be run over, up to the metal bench by Brook Bottom.

Turning left, I eschewed a visit to the Fox Inn, in favour of a cuppa in Marple with Graham and Sue, after returning to Rose Hill by the same bumpy route as described in my last report on Wednesday’s outing.

Here’s my route - 35 km with 700 metres ascent, taking nearly 3 hours.

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* On the descent to Whaley Bridge pass a house on the left where there’s a Public Footpath sign. A few metres further on, by the next house, is a bridleway sign. Take this bridleway down steeply between rose bushes and houses then turn left down a fast, narrow path to a gate. Continue along a grass track, keeping at a contouring height and not dropping down to another gate. After rising slightly, the grass track turns to stone and descends to a stream and gate. Beyond here a narrow rocky path leads to tarmac, and the descent to Furness Vale.