Could not be lucky during the whole trip and today started with heavy rain. I just slept on, but had to go up while breakfast was still served. Borrowed an umbrella to get over to the breakfast house. Then I still had to take things very slow while hoping the rain would stop and it actually did close to 12:00 and I was on my way again (slowly).
I just continued according to plan, while leaving out going to Magdalensberg and Diex as I had originally planned. I had many time thought to go to Eisenkappler Hütte/Kapelska koča (1551m) (a BIG climb), but had for various reasons shelved those plans, but now it was one of the places I should not leave out and up I went. Nice views in the gloomy weather early on and it was fairly steep in some places.
As I stopped for a photo as I just had a flat on an intermediate high point, from where there is a short descent if taking the first of the two roads up there, the rain started and it came down heavily, so I was running with the bike back to the high point and a house above there where I could take shelter and fix the flat. Nearly got all soaked on those 150m or so. I carefully fixed the flat and could stay out of the rain. (I did not see any at the house, but think they were at home somewhere as a car was there.)
All went well and the rain stopped again in not such a long time. Down to the start of the road where cars had to pay to go up. The climb was not so hard, but I was worried all the time of new rain coming in as it did not look good and now there were no houses to hide at along the road.
I got up at last and the restaurant at the top was luckily open, but had to walk around seas of water on the parking to get there. I had a good beer and an apfelstrudel with ice cream. It was not terribly warm, but nice. There were a little rain while staying there, but it stopped again and then the weather got better.
Here I am close to the high point of the road on the way back and one could see how bad weather has just recently visited the area.
Another photo and maybe the best view up here – now I was finally starting to feel a bit better about the day and felt lucky I got some views up here.
I stopped for water on the way down the other road and occasionally the road was dry now, but then it was a bit wet in the gorge down the Ebriach valley separating the two roads up there. This was a very nice section and I was going down here in 2004, but did not quite remember how the road looked. I was soon at last back to Bad Eisenkappel/Zelezna Kapla and had a coffee (and sun cream on) in the village before continuing up another side valley in the opposite direction (east) and now it was nice Summer weather and hoped it was staying that way for the rest of the day, but unfortunately that was not so.
The road up to Luschasattel/Sedlo Luža (1303m) is really a very nice one and it starts very easy, but eventually one has a steep ramp and then down into a side valley and now the road becomes quite narrow, twisty and quite steep. This is really one of the best climbs in the area and I think a better climb than Eisenkappler Hütte. I said to myself that this is really the holy grail of climbs in this part of Austria and all road cyclists should do it if they come by here.
Unfortunately the weather got worse again as I was reaching the pass (the road turns to gravel shortly before the high point and the pass itself is maybe located a short while after the high point (all fine with a road bike, but in the woods). I had planned to go down the other side (at earlier attempts to plan in this pass I had thought to climb up the bad gravel side, which might have been a bit difficult in retrospect).
Here I am at the road height and still no rain so I just continued on.
The road is quite steep in serpentines down the other side too, but rideable (at least down) and fairly soon I got pavement (rough) and was hoping I was lucky and that it would be all paved from there down and took a photo to document (get the coordinates) just where the pavement started again (as seen here). It was very wooded and I could not see much on the way down about where the weather was bad and not.
When getting out of the woods the gravel returned and it was then basically gravel all the way down to just before Globasnitz/Globasnica. I stopped for a photo where the road was flat for a while and it looked like the weather would get better ahead again maybe. I met an MTB rider looking bothered and maybe I would have been too if I had looked behind me.
I did not get more than a kilometre from the place in the photo before it started to rain heavily and the thunder I could hear earlier in the distance was now right over me. I could only stop under some trees that soon started to leak and eventually I had to move on when the rain was not as torrential. I reached the asphalt and was happy and then just a 100m on I had a flat again (not sure if related to the previous flat in the day). Is that not typical, after conquering a lot of bad gravel one comes to fine asphalt and then get a flat! That sort of made me tired and I was rather wet now. I decided to simply walk down to Globasnitz/Globasnica as it was almost not raining now and hoped to find an open café or some shop where I could get warm and wash my hands after fixing the flat again.
Stopping to look back up the valley I had descended and it did not exactly look inviting. It looked more like from horror movie. At least I was out of the mountains, but I could not find any open restaurant or anything in Globasnitz/Globasnica.
I got down to the tiny castle house in the centre and walked to a closed Spar grocery shop where I had to take shelter again from the rain. I was not in the mood for more cycling and consulted my map to see if I could possibly take a train somewhere near that I ideally could walk to. Maybe I should just have fixed the flat, but was cold and just wanted to move on. I walked down to the main road (short distance) and decided I could maybe fetch a bus there to the train station or get a hike to the train station (which was not so very far away either).
I got a hike within 10 minutes (in a nice car even, but was a bit worried as my bike was not so clean now) and they took me to the train station (St. Michael ob Bleiburg, or Bleiburg). I there could borrow the toilet and got tickets in good time for the departure to Wolfsberg, where I was going to meet the others at a hotel outside the city. I called Hans, who again was nice to collect me at the train station (I could have walked, but then I would have been a bit late for joining them at dinner). We all (6?) shared a big bedroom where they also had spent the previous night.