Wow, what a thunderstorm, the best I’ve ever experienced. It seemed to go on all night, it was overhead at times but rattled around the mountains. You could hear it slowly moving away until it was a distant rumble miles away causing chaos somewhere else. Truly amazing and a great experience.
Today we were travelling to Slovenia, it was planned to be about 350 miles or even more because of the detours we would have to take during the day. We didn’t know at the time that the Stelvio was closed as it should have been a straightforward route.
The day started badly, we asked for a cooked breakfast and 40 minutes later we were still waiting. We had decided on an early start, up at 06.30am – breakfast at 7.30am and away for 08.00am. But at 08.20am we decided to have a continental breakfast instead of bacon and egg (even after asking a number of times).
We were ready half an hour later than planned, so we set off to ride the rest of the Stelvio Pass. Enroute we saw the sign that said pass closed, so we stopped half way up as Ginge went to the top to check things out. It wasn’t long before he gave us the bad news – pass closed!
They had blocked the road with snow to stop anyone going through, an avalanche the night before in the thunderstorms had put paid to any passage. If we would have gone yesterday, we would have been fine. It was also a winter wonderland up there with people skiing.
So yet again, we were back tracking. But now we had to reroute by a long way as the Stelvio was giving us the most direct route to Austria and then Slovenia. We looked at the map and in true ‘alternative route’ style we reverted to leapfrogging each other by selecting set points to aim for on the sat nav. Totally unplanned and by map reading alone, with luck we were on our way with a newly made up route.
The going was good until we hit an untrodden pass, it was an unclassified road that was used mainly by cyclists. The pass took us up to 1,852 meters above sea level and was pretty cold up the top, the descent was awful – bad road conditions with a poor surface of leaves and tree debris from the heavy rain we managed to avoid.
Then we were on the main road again, the going was good as we climbed more passes and encountered many ski resorts that you’d never find in the brochure. The Italians keep the best ones for themselves, it was an eye opener to see the ski resorts this close up (one for the bucket list – I must try skiing before the end of my days).
We did a stretch on the motorway, where they relieved us of a few coins and then into Austria. The roads were great but very slow going because of the volume of traffic, they must have had the same problems as us finding alternative routes because most of the Alpine passes were closed.
As we rode alongside the Dolomites, it was a spectacular sight to see. It just looked so inviting but with the storms last night it was not on our mind to ride through any passes today. The journey continued towards Slovenia, slowly but surely we were nearing the destination. The weather reached 30 degrees as the day wore on but we kept up a good pace once we started to clear the Alps, we were making up for lost time earlier on.
The Slovenian border was upon us as we meandered our way up the last pass before reaching the hotel. Arriving late because of the huge detour we checked in, got a well deserved beer and booked a table for the evening meal in the hotel restaurant. It was late, so going wandering was not an option! We also missed the opportunity to have a sauna and use the fabulous spa facilities too.
The evening meal was like the Laurel and Hardy show, a coach load of chinese people turned up and like a plague of locusts cleared the buffet in one sweep. The only funny thing about it was they were in the wrong hotel and we booted out once the chaos had been rectified. It didn’t help us as there was fuck all left!
At least we were all there safe after the last three days of extended riding and navigating the closed passes through the width of the Alps. Some hot food in our bellies, a beer or two and some water was well needed and deserved. It wasn’t long before we hit the sack and went to bed. Again I was sharing with Ginge and his snoring would not keep me awake tonight.
Tomorrow is a new day and we have a choice of the Trenta Pass or lake Bled, the group has chosen the sweeping roads of lake Bled instead of the Pass. So on paper it’s an easier day’s riding. Tomorrow we head to Croatia and the beautiful Dalmatian coast.