This day started a bit like the day before ended, with cloudy weather and no heat, which is always welcome (apart from not getting so good photos then). The first climb of the day starts at once from Alt St. Johann (890m). The climb keeps you warm at least up to Underschwendi (1272m) when the road is fairly steep. Then it is flat and a little downhill as the road winds its way around the mountain here and then climbs up again to Oberstofel Neuenalp/Rietegg (1415m).
Here looking back.
The views up here are great and this is a nice little round tour up here from either direction.
Further down the views ahead are just as splendid. It looks lonely up here, but just passed by some ladies working up here and met some people here and there along the road. But very few cars up here.
A last looking backing up the Rietegg pass.
From here and ca one kilometre ahead/down, the road is terribly steep at ca. 20% all the time and therefore a little feared by some road cyclists (I believe), but as it is never extremely steep it should not be a big problem getting up here in low gears. One has to be careful not speeding up when going down.
Further down the road is nice and easy again and with great views across the valley of the Churfirsten mountain tops separating us from the Walensee on the other side. I continued a little bit further toward Unterwasser, but soon turned off on a road climbing a bit before it descends to Lisighaus (1050m) (which is the actual pass height in this valley, but nearby Wildhaus on the main road is marked as the passhöhe as it is the highest point on that road at 1090m). I was searching for a bicycle shop to get some more air in my front tube to be able to descend faster and more securely on the fast and nice road down from Waldhaus to Liechtenstein.
The sport shop here on the main road did not have a bicycle pump, but a guy there suggested I went down to a place on the plain below where they fixed farming machines and everything, and although they were very nice and really tried to find their pump it was nowhere to be found and I just had to take it easy down the big road to Gams (478m). There I stopped and had a sandwich, yoghurt and coca-cola. Then continued on the long, narrow and perfectly straight Haagstrasse. Just a bit further on was indeed a bicycle shop they told me about at the agricultural machinery workshop. Got a new tube and had the tyre inflated properly (though they first thought I wanted to buy a foot pump rather than just borrow it – yeah people usually cycle around the Alps with foot pumps on their backs, right … ).
Then further on I crossed over into Liechtenstein and now I only also wanted to get the bicycle look good again after the bad weather down the Klausenpass, so found a car wash along this curious road that apparently had everything you needed. It was a small gas station and only place for one car at the self-service washing. Now, I did end the tour with an accident in Liechtenstein, but that was not the only mishap in this little country this year.
I was a bit careless when taking up the high-pressure washing nozzle and despite sensing that it was not quite right I pressed the start button while only lightly holding on with the other hand and … oh well. I guess there must be Youtube videos of people doing this for fun, but it was not all that fun as the nozzle kept swinging around very wildly in a totally unpredictable manner and it was a mere matter of time before it could know me out och destroy the bicycle, so after some deliberation I had to sort of go on attack and battle it into compliance and happily succeeded without getting hurt. I washed the bicycle, but was myself looking a bit dirty now as it had thrown up dirt all around.
Curiously no one outside had noticed anything nor heard anything, likely due to the busy road next by, despite that they were sitting outside just next to where I was putting on a show. Relieved I continued out of Liechtenstein and then took a short-cut on the first road to the right in Austria, where one climbs a hill with lots of houses. This is a somewhat steep short-cut, so not sure one gains much time on using it. Now it started to get warm again as the clouds had mostly disappeared. I stopped near Nenzing at a boring road-side café and then continued in good speed up to Bludenz.
After Bludenz, I stopped by a gas station to oil the chain that had dried up since long now and then all felt good as I continued up the busy road to Schruns (690m). From here I had long planned to climb the Kristbergsattel (1486m) in the Silbertal. One could go via Bartholomäberg, but then one has to handle a short stretch of gravel road at one point (not sure how long this section is), but that is likely the easiest road even with the gravel part (but not sure!). I took the surely asphalted one, both as it was asphalted and since it seemed more of a challenge, even though the other road probably offers better views.
Both photos above are from the Kristberg and the pass. The road from Silbertal/Innertal (877m) and up is terribly steep! This is a hard and uneven climb on a very twisty and narrow road. The road only becomes a little less steep as it meets the aforementioned gravel road near the top (where I noticed some mountain bikers came from). By the last trees before reaching the Kristberg I had another flat and now started a long series of flats that really made me a bit tired at some points, and that only came to an end like a week later, so bear with me.
I took off the wheel to change the tube and noted there were a scar in the tyre (not sure if that happened there, but guess so). I noticed that the only thing this year that I had forgotten to take with me was some patches of cut-outs of a used tyre sidewall, that I always try and bring with me since I had a similar thing happen, but even worse up on the horrible Sandjöchl (2065m) road in Italy (near the Brennerpass) in 2003 and was luckily helped out by two mountain bikers just passing by at that moment, who had thought of this. Now a lady came in a car and stopped to aks if she could take me to the Kristberg as I might have an easier time fixing the bicycle there. Since it was apparently quite nearby I said okay as she was nice to stop and offer me help. I thanked her, but first decided to have a nice apfelstrudel with ice cream and a radler to drink (see photo above).
Now that I had regained some energy I noticed I forgot my water bottle in the lady’s car and she were nowhere to be found. Alright, then time to try and fix the flat somehow. The scar in the tyre was not big and possibly I could somewhat safely had ignored it but it would be more of a problem the better I inflated the tyre, so it was no good. After discussing possible solutions with the man running the Kristberg gasthaus, I came up with what seemed as a brilliant McGywer-type of solution. I asked the man for a scissor and a matchbox. Then I cut off a bit of one of the straps holding my Deuter backpack in place as I didn’t need a long piece that was not a problem and I “secured” the strap by melting it at the new edge (that I had trimmed down a lot earlier as they make them into virtual lashes that are painful and unnecessarily long).
Now this seemed like a good solution and worked fine as far as I could tell for the rest of that day, so felt really good about having fixed it that way (which I later was not so happy about eventually … ). The road from the restaurant to the pass was not asphalted as one Club des Cent Cols friend had suggested it was and I also didn’t quite believe it from what I had read/seen before. It was also bad enough for trying to climb on a road bike, esp. just after having had a flat fixed.
I still walked up to the pass and took the grassy slope down to save my bicycle shoes. Great views from up here in lovely weather. It was quite hot down in Schruns now however. I managed to find help with a pump at the sports shop in the village and got a new tube again, but they had no water bottles, so just bought something more to drink and went ahead up the valley.
I had originally planned to climb via Zeinisjoch (1842m) as the road there is all asphalted now since some years ago, but it is quite steep on this side. I had also thought about climbing up to Heilbronner Hütte (2307m) on a gravel road, but will have to look into that another time as there was no time for this and I was not interested in more gravel roads. I needed to be down in Italy the next day already for an event the day after again.
After the toll both above Partenen, the real climb to Bielerhöhe (2037m) starts. When one reach after a series of nice hairpins the Vermunt Stausee (1751m) one wants to think one is close to the pass, but there is almost 300 more height metres to climb. There were a lot of trucks around here working on the dams (whatever the were doing) even though they should be done for the day now when I arrived just while the sun was still out.
It is normally quite lovely up here, but now I had to avoid catching work vehicles in the photos as it very much looked just like a working area. Looking a bit tired as I had to try many times to get a decently good selfie here ;-). Not easy to hold that iPhone 6 without a cover properly. I had cut off two small pieces of plaster that I fastened on the side of the iPhone for improved grip as I do not much like to have a cover (even though it is advisable with that slippery new design (even worse than with earlier models)). I did not drop it once though, but the plaster did not quite want to stay on at the end of my trip.
Here is a lovely view, but it could have been a bit sunnier (too late).
A last photo before hurrying down the long, long valley to Landeck. The girl in the toll both saw me coming down and nicely opened the bar so I did not have to slow down as I passed her by – I frozenly waved thanks and continued down. Zeinisjoch (1842m) is actually the original pass here and is also the shorter and lower passage. The reason people use the Bielerhöhe today instead I most likely because the road was too steep over the Zeinisjoch so they built this instead and guess it was built also for the dams, of course.
I really wanted to get out of Landeck and starting out on the way up to Reschenpass before the end of the day, so even though it was pretty much starting to get dark in Landeck, I continued and decided to stay at the first best place along the road. So I found a road-side hotel that looked kind of simple and so it was. It was not expensive, nor really cheap, but it was absolutely terrible. Only a few more guests at the place (some German motorcyclists). Had a simple wienerschnitzel, that was the simplest I have ever seen and no signs of any vegetables or anything really. I almost felt a bit sorry for the people running the place, who seemed to have given up on the business. The room was very dirty and the toilet was not cleaned this last century. It looked like blood had dried up along the uncleaned door to the balcony in evening and I took some time before I fell asleep. In the morning I saw that it was luckily only looking like that on the balcony door.