The Hunt Cycling is a full service bike-shop, independent journal and collective consisting of three cycling enthusiasts based in Halle Saale. We try to explore, document and share our experiences in the field of cycling and beyond. Besides drinking shandy, lots of riding and intellectual discusses about bike parts and stuff, we enjoy riding with friends and running our showroom and bike-shop located in the center of Halle.
After last years easy peasy annual summer bike packing trips along the baltic sea it was time for all of us to tackle new adventures. Slightly bored of sunburns, swimming in the sea, cheap beer and cosy cycling, we were dreaming about new roads and new experiences. After weeks of talking, re-thinking, checking, re-checking, drinking beer and stalking our favourite Instagram profiles, we laid down a possible route on google maps we all finally agreed upon. Somehow. The idea was to do the opposite of last years trips. Mountains and a lots of climbing! We finally planned a route from Innsbruck to Verona including two mountain passes. We were looking forward to a lot of climbing, a lot of pain and a lot of fun. And pain. And Climbing.
While getting ready for lazy holidays on bikes everyone started to got more and more excited. Suddenly the bikes slowly went from bike packing-mules to lightweight touring rigs with sprockets as big as pizzas. Everyone bought the latest performance enhancers and the smell of shamois creme already filled the air. Everyone was getting ready. Traveling with bikes is a pain in the ass. At least in Germany and if you want to go by train / Deutsche Bahn. Bicycle tickets are limited and you need to plan several months in advance to get your train ticket including your (golden) ticket for you bicycle. On top of that buying a ticket via the official DB App seems easy but someone simply forgot the option to order a bicycle ticket via the App. We managed to solve this apparently impossible task with endless waiting hours in the ticket office, tons of coffee, mental preparation and stalking our favorite Instagram profiles.
The start of our journey finally arrived and we found ourselves sitting in the train to Austria and starring on our bikes wondering how long we will survive the very first climb in the alps? Everything went smooth as sandpaper. There was only one problem. Two of our friends did not show up as planned. They were missing and we could not reach them by phone. It turned out later they overslept the departure of our train probably expecting the whole unreal journey will go wrong like Captain Marlows voyage to find Mr. Kurtz. Our initial thoughts went from „Only the strong survive“ to „The first foreseen casualties.“ We assumed the worst and tried to adjust to the new situation. Arriving in Munich we soon found out that both found a way to catch up with our train in Munich. We were reunited before even started to ride a bike.
We hopped off the train in Innsbruck welcomed by sultry warm temperatures above 25C instantly absorbing the mountain odours. It immediately started to rain and while cycling through Innsbruck the reflective streets created impressionistic vibrant Renoir-like colours. A nice welcome. For our first night we settled in a small town called Axams twenty kilometers outside of Innsbruck in a luxury private house including postcard-like views, good food and a few delicious bottles of wine. The route to our AirBNB already was a lung-collapsing experience. Combined with the high humidity everybody was sweating buckets. While enjoying our last day in “civilization” we already started looking forward to a myriad of nights in the harsh alpine wilderness, surviving blistering cold weather and wild animal attacks.
Starting early means getting up earlier. But the past taught us one thing: The more people, the longer everything takes. The next morning we finally started with a two hour delay. The temperatures already were screaming hot, the humidity did the rest and the first ascent into the Sellraintal expected us literally right in front of the door. The first few climbs were hard. Really hard. So hard and time consuming that we realized we completely miscalculated our overall time. We approximately planned over around 4h for the ascent but it soon became obvious that we would need more than six hours for climb. But shifting into a lower gear also means you get closer to the majestic mountain scenery.
A myriad of rests, several smoking breaks and hundreds of selfies with mountains later we reached the Kühtaisattel and found ourselves in a steady drizzle and cold temperatures but very happy and rooted. We definitely needed a break to recharge and as soon as the skies cleared up a bit we immediately started the thrilling and beautiful 30km descent down to the next small town on our route called Oetz. But not without fanboying a Team LottoNL-Jumbo Teamcar we found right on top of the mountaintop — #hardstyle! One sunset fade chased another and we descended on reflecting oil-painting like pavement through a surreal alpine nature looking forward to something to eat, Schnaps and a place to sleep.
Beaten by the efforts and impressions of the first day we started our next part of the route up to Sölden. The plan was to ride the Passo del Rombo, a high mountain pass that creates a link to the Ötztal Alps along the border between Austria and Italy. After a beautiful ride through the Ötztal valley up to the Gurglertal we stopped in Sölden looking for a camping place. Unfortunately the weather forecast brought us bad news and we soon found ourselves building up our tents in constant rain. The next morning wasn’t looking better either. The rain and the temperatures got worse and we started to discuss our options how to get to the top of the mountain pass. Marko‘s knees were hurting badly and after a short group discussion we decided to take the bus up to the top. This was not what we were looking for but on bicycle touring trips like this the group comes first. The bus ride worked out pretty well because each bus can only carry 5 bicycles at once.
We reached the top while it was still raining. We found shelter in the small cafe on the mountain top with the hope of better conditions constantly checking the weather. Then suddenly, after 2 hours of waiting there were a small brake in the rain and we decided to seize the opportunity for descending. Good decision! After literally working our way through walls of fog we finally got a glimpse of the breathtaking scenery we were about to ride down the next 30km. It was a blast. We started to chase down the hair-pinned road that opens up directly below us while the never ending road gave us another stunning panoramic view every few meters. After a few satisfying stops for taking pictures we finally arrived in Saltaus near the city of Meran. Even the sun came out again on our last few kilometers giving us few more scenic moments and a colorful evening.
It goes without saying that these two first days of our trip were already challenging, beautiful and a bit mind blowing. Riding mountains always gives you some higher peace of mind moments even though you constantly struggling with your inner self. Being in the nature or experience mountains is better an any 6k HD National Geographic documentation with Sir Walter Attenborough. Anyway, from now on we were on the way out of the alps, to warmer temperatures and to Italy. We cycled from Merano to Bozen on the very old cycle route “Via Claudia Auguste”, we slept in a beautiful vineyard in the region of Trentino-Aldige and got a few delicious wine bottles from the owner himself. We road through Trient, had a beautiful night under the tarp near Trento we tackled probably the smallest pass in the world – Passo S. Giovanni and arrived after a few awesome days on the bike early afternoon at Lago du Garda. We finally arrived in Verona after 8 days of cycling 420km and 6.340m of altitude from Innsbruck to Verona. The alps were challanging, the weather was crazy, Italy is awesome and Verona is beautiful! Everybody was save and the bikes were in great shape!