I didn’t have much time to settle my stomach before it was time to move west through the Czech Republic and then south in Germany towards Lindau. First off I got a ride with the Monros to the train station in Karlovy Vary which was a bit of a relic from the Czechoslovakian era. To the Czech’s credit although it was a bit run down looking like most of the stuff around there it hadn’t been shown much attention in the last few years as they looked to be planning a new station. The train and rail cars were still functional and although a little slow still allowed me to make my connection to get to Germany. The German train was slightly different, high-tech looking and quite new. Once on the train on the way through there was a fairly abrupt change as we went from Czech to Germany, everything was tidy, clean and well manicured all of a sudden.
Once in germany it was change of train after change of train until I missed one connection which had me quite confused and eventually I was lucky enough to be met by Cris Lovell-Smith just after midnight in Lindau. He kindly carried all my gear on his bike while I jogged alongside to get the 3.5km to his place. I had a day to look around Lindau which is a pretty cool little town centre on an island in lake constance which boarders Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it must come quite close to France also. It seemed to be an are of high wealth too!
Saturday Cris and I caught a train up to Immenstad about 50mins north of Lindau to go for a run. Cris managed to get chatting to some guy with a whole lot of climbing gear and was very friendly. I think Cris was glad to get off the train at that point! Before heading off we went in search of food and found some pretty nice looking Mandirin and quark chesse cake looking thing. Unforunately although it tasted really good it wasn’t quite as good as it looked. As we stuffed our faces and were pretty full we started just walking up the hill. It didn’t take too long to get out of the valley as it was steep and we gained height fast. It wasn’t too long before we got up onto the ridge was was pretty narrow with steep drop offs on both sides lending to awesome views of the valleys below and back across Germany.
We had a short lunch break but were pretty full from our morning tea stop in Immenstad and soon started to make our way along the ridge. The ridge didn’t appear to be all that hard going but Cris reckoned to get to the gondola station it would probably be two hours. I didn’t believe him especially as he had said it took him only a few hours to get there and back plus another hill in the race that he did. It was though, very hard work and after each of the 5-6 peaks we climbed up there was around 200-300 vertical climb in between!
The closer we got to the Gondola station the more peaks it seemed like we needed to climb to get there! Eventually we got there but Cris was quite worried that according to the advice given by Cris’s friend on the train we were possibly only halfway. I quick check of the map showed that we were about where we wanted to be to get to Oberschaft to catch the train back.
Both Cris and I were feeling a bit stuffed and it had taken us around 4 hours to get to this point. I was quite happy to take the gondola down and Cris was leaning in that direction too, so we decided to fuel up and check the price of the Gondola ticket. In the 10minutes we were inside the station the weather that was supposed to arrive the next day closed in very quickly. So quickly that there was an annoucement made that if anyone was wanting to take the gondola down we should go now. After a check check of the weather conditions outside we quickly decided to take the gondola. Unfortunetly we were not quite quick enough getting there and due to winds the Gondola stopped running. We waited for quite some time while the gondola operater shifted cars around and made it look like something was going on but after about an hour they sent us to wait in the station maybe 1, 2 or 3 hours until the wind died down.
There was some deliberation as we checked the outside weather conditions again. We chickened out on the idea while a guy outside tried to convince his very grumpy girlfriend that it was a good idea to walk down in the cold and the rain. We only had to wait another 15min or so and were lightfooted enough (just!) to make it to the first gondola car down. Then as the car exited the station we heard the operater yell out to send us down fast as the wind was coming up again! Once outside the gondola was completely surrounded in Mist and we couldn’t see anything but white. Thanks to some perfect timing pretty much as soon as we arrived at the station the bus turned up to take us to the train station, and it was just a short ride back to Lindau.
The weather was as predicted not so great on Sunday with thunderstorms and showers rolling on through most of the morning. Eventually in the early afternoon I decided I needed to fit in a run so Cris suggested we run up the TV tower he had been telling me about the day before I arrived.
We jumped on bikes and rode them into Austria on the outskirts of Bregenz. It wasn’t until we looked back up the lake before we started running that we noticed that the weather was closing in and another shower was making its way in our direction. After 10mins of running the worst of it hit just as we emerged from the forest. Luckily there was a some church like structure with some seats that we sort refuge in. It was about 10mins of hiding from the rain before it became evident that we were going to get wet so we kept going. At the top it was de-ja-vu again with mist encapsulating the tower and the top of the hill. The conditions did not inspire much hanging around and we quickly headed back down. Bregenz didn’t seem to have much to offer in terms of scenery so after some ice cream to make sure we were sufficiently cold on the inside as well as the outside it was back to Germany and Lindau in the sunshine which had somehow pushed through the clouds.
The following day I was out the door with Cris as he headed to work and I made my way to the Val di fiemme in Italy. The ride from Bregenz to Innsbruk was fairly spectacular but Im not sure about the ride from Innsbruck to Bolzano as it was standing room only on the train. From there I was met by some of the team and lucky enough to get a ride up and over the hill (1800m) and there was enough time to go for a long 30min run!
NOTE: Pictures to come later…sorry…