October 2010 Italy Switzerland Austria Germany

Part 4: Switzerland - Austria - Germany

Around 10:am in the morning with a temperature of zero Celsius I am leaving South West Switzerland to make it all to Austria a few km after the North East border. I clean the bike from last night's ice (see last picture of part 3) load it and press the start button. Far from willing the battery tries to start the engine and manages but the latter makes hammering noises for the first seconds till the oil warms up to more sane temperatures. I've never heard that before and start riding trying not to think how bad this could be. I head North and later take the 11 which soon leads me up to the first pass, Col de Mosses. Above 1400m this is double the altitude of my starting point where I had zero degrees and it's just 30 minutes later. close to its highest point I start feeling my left middle finger numb and I immediately stop in the fear of a potential frostbite:

Fortunately after warming it up over the engine and with a little bit of rubbing it comes back to life. I try to see if the hotel in the picture has any thermometer cause my guess is that it should be around -3C there. Wondering how I will make it for the rest of the trip as I am only in the beginning of it I jump on the bike again and continue riding moving hands and feet all the way to keep them warm and I put my left hand behind the engine's radiator whenever the traffic allows me to do so. And it surely does as there's almost no other vehicle on the road on that freezing late October morning. Obviously no bikes at all. Was funny to see people's reactions as I cross snowy villages on the way. At first they go like "a biker!" and as soon as I pass I can see the look in their face go like "a Greek!" as they see my number plate in the rear. Almost an hour later I stop at a scenic gas station:

There I decide to put on a set of single use gloves they had so the drivers can keep their hands clean while refilling, hoping that this will keep a bit of extra cold away. A good way to forget the hostile weather is the stunning Swiss landscape:

It's incredible. Almost every single rural area is so pretty:

After reaching beautiful Thun I continue via Schallenberg Pass at 1167 m, again in a white dream scenery with zero traffic. Later I took the 10 that led me to Lucerne. I park my bike by the river Reuss,

And picture this nice tower at Kapellbrucke:

The city is VERY beautiful but I challenge you to find one that is not around Switzerland. However, I can't stand the penetrating cold and take more pictures no matter how much of an eye candy it is. I ride my bike and just before I leave Lucerne behind I stop for two more:

It's actually so cold that when I stop, weird as it may sound, I feel even colder! Riding on the 8 later gives me the chance to cross the beautiful Zurich lake and after 8 hours of riding I finally arrive at Dornbirn Austria where my good friend Luna waits to host me. A well travelled biker who did the whole South America solo on her bike (which by the way obliged her to change 5 pistons, all with her own hands). I know I've mentioned cold many times already and this might sound like a rant of a spoiled Mediterranean but let me add this: Hours after chatting with Luna at her living room, I decide to reach for my hard candies that I keep in a metal container. Believe it or not, though my luggage was in room temperature for several hours already it was almost untouchable.

I spend a couple of days there mostly resting from the cold hence the harvest in pictures is rather poor. Still I couldn't miss the snowy Alps,

and this totally wonderful house:

It's the end of October when me plus Luna with her BF go to attend a bikers meeting outside Mannheim Germany. I ride solo while they took their car. With a significant delay due to accident (not mine fortunately) on the Autobahn and a closed bridge a couple of km away from the venue we all meet there again. I can't miss a chance for a local dish:

A much needed campfire made us gather around at night for some more "würste":

I go to my hotel while other guys decide to camp. Next morning, after a great breakfast indoors I go to their "campsite" for a hello:

They definitely didn't look as freshened up as I was after a good night's sleep indoors and one of them says "You slept in a hotel?" and after my "Yeah" he goes semi trembling "Good move...". Another one tells me that he had to put bottles of hot water between his legs to survive so it wasn't hard to imagine how much of a 5 star experience it was.

A few of the guys plus me decide to ride around the area following a guy who is supposed to know what is what there. Really nice to experience the colours of the golden autumn while riding and making the necessary stop for beer and "würste", this time West of Oberzent:

We then ride up to the train bridge of Himbächel-Viadukt close to Marbach, an impressive tall one built in 1881:

November begins, it is my birthday and I share the delicious pastry creations of Luna with some guys around the meeting before I leave them behind to head South to Innsbruck. Another well travelled biker and goo friend there to meet: Axel. After I cross the border to Austria I capture the intense beauty of the season around Fernpass with the lake Blindsee in the background:

Axel is busy hosting the kids of his GF so he leads me to a friend of his with less commitments. And what a nice view his balcony has this time of the year:

However, the view of the cloudy sky and the snowy peaks later after sundown is not really promising for my next day's riding plans:

Yes, that's a thin layer of ice all over it. I still had to go anyway though so I put my gear on and start one of my coldest rides ever.

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