WAVE 2013: Day 4 – Weissensee to Neukirchen (via Großglockner)

Today was THE DAY… The best day so far! And we did it: WE TWIKED THE GROSSGLOCKNER!!!

I can’t describe how that feels. Within only 20 or 30km we covered an altitude diffence of 1400 metres and we pedalled our TW1009 ALL THE WAY UP.

The first stage was from Weissensee to Heiligenblut, so we first had to go down the steep hill from last night so at the bottom of that my range gauge showed a rather optimistic 494km. This was slowly reduced to more realistic values until we reached the mountain road to Heiligenblut and the Großglockner. We had to climb about 700m over only a few kilometers. We quickly settled into a steady pace of about 25 to 30km/h, pedalling in second gear. Of course we were overtaken frequently, but we got lots of thumbs-up, got photographed and filmed, and we had a fantastic time! Our charging stop Heiligenblut turned out to be a pretty little village, a bit over-run by tourism because of the Großglockner:

Charging in Heiligenblut

At about 1pm we decided to do a little detour of 7km one way (and 400m up) to the Emperor Franz Josef Glacier, although we were not quite sure about our range and the time it would take. I am SO glad that we did this: the view of the glacier was absolutely incredible. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I tried a panorama shot with Autostich and having seen the real thing, it brings back the feeling of the place straight away:

The Emperor Franz Josef Glacier

After taking part in the group photo, we left for the real challenge: we went back the 7km (and 400m down) to start the climb to the Großglockner Mountain Pass. Driving and pedalling were fully automatic now and we could concentrate on the incredible scenery around us. Every few metres and every hairpin bend the view changed and we completely forgot about the pain in our legs. It was one smooth ride to the top and the feeling of achievement when we got to the Hochtor at 2505m was really great:

 

At the Hochtor on 2505m

 

The Hochtor at the Großglockner

The temperature was 7.5 degrees, there was snow everywhere, in the tunnel there were frozen water falls on the walls, but we were happy and didn’t feel at all cold. On the other side of the tunnel was another car park with a great view over the mountain tops around us.

Frozen waterfalls in the Hochtor tunnel

Then came the loooong way down, with lots of regenerative braking. I think I only touched the mechanical brakes five times, the rest of the surplus energy all went back into the batteries. A few times I thought something might be wrong with the TWIKE because a horrible smell wafted through the cabin. But it turned out that this was the smell of the burnt brakes of other cars and motorbikes! What a waste of energy…

The looong way down

On the Großglockner Road

We went on to Neukirchen, where we will spend the night in the sports hotel Wildkogel and share a room with Gordon and Leora of Team Green Motor Sport.  It has been a fantastic day, which we will never forget!

 

Andreas

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