WOW! Today was the first proper mountain stage, before going to the max with the Großglockner tomorrow. We left our nice hosts in Aibl at 9:46 sharp and instantly started climbing towards the Soboth. This gave us a nice taster of what is about to come. It went constantly uphill for 25km, sometimes it was so steep that our speed dropped to 20km/h and I had to switch the peda drive to first gear. I suppose everybody knows that we don’t have to pedal at all. The TWIKE motor is strong enough, pedalling doesn’t increase speed or acceleration at all, it only increases the range. But I can tell you that if the mountain calls we have to answer with everything we got! We are not going to be beaten by a mere hill! After 25km we reached the pass at a height of 1349m (4425ft), completely soaked and with the range dropped to 60km.
We had a short break, took some pictures, and then raced down the other side of the mointain – what a fantastic feeling after all the hard work and at the end our range had doubled to 120km thanks to regenerative braking. Therefore we didn’t have to recharge the TWIKE in Völkermarkt, but stopped there nevertheless to recharge ourselves with ice cream.
The next proper charging stop was in St. Veit, where we arrived a bit too late for the introduction to the so-called “Fuchspalast”, a hotel designed by the Austrian painter Ernst Fuchs, a very colourful building. At least we still got served our (very nice) lunch.
After St. Veit we had a stop over in Feistritz an der Drau, where we got a small snack and excellent ice cold elderflower cordial which we really enjoyed. For the evening and night we then carried on to Weissensee. We had to drive about 63 km, mostly in the flat but the last few km were another challenge: several parts with a 15% incline! I suppose that was another good test for tomorrow, we learned a lot about which speed to set the cruise control to at different steepnesses to give us the best efficiency.
Weissensee is a lake up in the mountains with lots of little villages around it, full of hotels and other touristy attractions… but actually VERY nice, as the view from our hotel balcony shows:
The evening in the town hall was very interesting. We had good food, accompanied by two boys playing accordeon (I don’t generally like this kind of music, but they were really good!), and were treated to a talk about a circumnavigation of the globe with a solar ship. The charging situation though was a bit of a mess, the fuses kept blowing, so we decided to charge at the hotel, as did about half of the other teams as well, to make sure we had a full charge for the long climb to the Großglockner.