08 Feb Brenner Pass
After a relaxing night, we again wake up to beautiful blue skies and what we thought was going to be smooth cycling downhill to Innsbruck and the start of our climb towards Brenner Pass. However, we are quickly surprised to discover that as we leave our little town, we are once again climbing and the climb continues for 5 miles. With our legs already being a bit tired after climbing Fern Pass the day before, this climb seems to continue forever. Luckily for us, all things that go up, must go down and we are finally greeted with a nice and long decent into the valley that will lead us to Innsbruck.
We cycle through snow-covered fields that eventually turn to grass, as we get closer to the valley floor. The 50°F (10°C) temperature and warm sun are very surprising considering it is February and we are in the middle of the Alps, it feels so much like springtime.
Feeling somewhat refreshed following our descent and then flat cycling into Innsbruck, we decide to go ahead and start our ascent towards Brenner Pass and find a place to camp for the night along the way. The ascent from Innsbruck to Brenner is about 23 miles, so we only plan on cycling a few miles, get a good night sleep and start fresh in the morning.
After about 3 miles, we come across two houses and a huge empty field across the street from them, so we stop and ask about pitching our tent in the field. Again, just like the past several times, we are given the “you are nuts” look, but are given the OK with a smile. Believe it or not, we are about 2500ft, in the Alps, in February, and this has to be the warmest night we have had since cycling through England last August.
Once again we wake up to blue skies and cool temps, but this morning we are also greeted by some of the strongest winds we have had to cycle in. At one point, as we crossed under the Europa Bridge, a gust of wind literally stopped us and pushed us backwards. The battle with the wind continued throughout the day, but we made the best of it.
Back in the 80s we drove across and under the Europa Bridge when we made our summer vacations in Italy, but this was our first time cycling underneath it and it is an impressive structure. Although it would be nicer if we were cycling down, instead of up!
A few miles out we start to see and feel the weather changing, but we had no idea it was going to be this bad (picture below). Just a few miles ago, we were enjoying spring time conditions and now we are in deep winter!
Thank goodness we were prepared and have some winter type items with, like goggles and ski gloves. They are coming in handy and although we would rather have not needed them, it is nice that we get to use them at least once during this trip. We are hoping to exit winter as soon as we hit the bottom, but we will have to cycle down and see.
We cycled about 10 miles down and it is not looking good. The weather became so bad that we had to find another room and the way it looks outside, winter is here for a few more days. Maybe we will head back over the pass and into Austria so we can enjoy spring again.