Day 19, 15 6 2014, Balzars to St Anton

We stopped yesterday afternoon for a snack and Roz bought a Toblerone bar, which we shared.  She pointed out that the information on the pack showed that we each consumed 246 kilojoules of energy.  By an amazing coincidence, while riding up a hill some days ago I calculated that each 100m I climbed required 120KJ of energy, just in terms of the gain in potential energy, without taking into account any metabolic factors.  Isn’t that interesting?

Today was probably our last really big climbing day for this trip.  We rode over the Arlberg Pass.  This is the major east-west passage through Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Austria, and has been under development for over a century.  So we had little choice. 

The day was more or less a continual climb, initially very gradually, but quite hard work towards the end.  We rode up just under 1400m vertical to the Arlberg Pass.  For the first time on this trip we actually had a bit of rain, but not enough to get soaked.

This day is not for everyone and we went to some effort to find out what options there were.  It is possible simply to take a train from Bludenz to Landeck, (check the map at the end) and miss most of the climb.  The better option is to keep track of the Post Bus system.  There are numerous stops along Austrian national route 197, which takes you over the pass.  Many of the buses have bike racks.  So, if you ride to Langen, where the hard work starts, it is possible to wait for a bus, which are scheduled more or less hourly, and get off at the top of the pass.

That would be sensible, so we didn’t do it.  We rode the lot.  At this stage of our trip we have ridden a lot of hills and are fit.  The day would be a killer very early in a trip, as the hard bits are at the end when you are running down on energy.

The day was a challenge.  It was also a bit strange for me as I skied in this area forty years ago, and couldn’t remember any of it, and yet looked out on ski slopes I must have skied down all those years ago.

From the pass we rode the steep downhill to the ski village of St Anton, found a spectacular hotel, whose pricing would have been modest on a Swiss budget, had the best meal so far in Europe to end another great day.

85Km for the day.

Roz says: Forgot to mention being electrocuted yesterday taking cow photos and fell down a slope through a live fence!!  Surprise, bikes conduct electricity!!  The dear cows all rushed over to see if I was OK, and stood watching while a nice man stopped and helped me return to the road.  Man rider was up the track.  Surpassed our wildest expectations today, Arlberg Pass with luggage AND honeymoon suite with six course candlelit gourmet dinner at St Antons.  Can it get any better???

The map is a bit of a mess as the GPS data did not download properly.

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