Cycling Europe Day 39: Hit In the Face by a Mountain

Today I realized that I’ve been cycling through the Alps for the past couple of days.

The picture does the view no justice at all.

The picture does the view no justice at all.

I remember when I was in Spain, I was looking at my maps one morning to figure out my route. I wrote a post on Facebook saying matter-of-factly that most of that day’s cycling would be at 1200 meters. I was already at that altitude. A few minutes after posting that I thought, “Wait a minute. When the heck did I climb up to 1200 meters??”

I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of climbs. There are the sudden, very steep climbs that are almost always followed by sudden, very steep descents. Then there are the very gradual ascents. You barely notice them. You see that the mountains that were in front of you two days ago now surround you. Your legs feel that the ground is not flat beneath them, yet your eyes can’t exactly see the ascent. You cycle like this for one, maybe two days, sometimes three, and then suddenly you find yourself at the top of a mountain. And just as suddenly, like today, you find yourself coasting rapidly, almost back down to sea level. It is the strangest thing.

At the top of today’s mountain I cycled through beautiful little skiing villages. The ski

My view while writing this blog post.

My view while writing this blog post.

slopes were completely green. But as I crossed to the other side, I could see a snow capped mountain in front of me. The sight made me gasp.

The mountainous part of today’s cycle was the best. I’m going to definitely have to come back to Austria some day. Then, as always with big cities, as I got nearer to Vienna, the navigation became more difficult and the roads more crowded and scary.


I’ve Offended the Mountain

July 10, 10 am on the train from Torino to Aosta

“Where is the logic?” I’ve been asking myself these past couple of weeks.

First sight of Mont Blanc amidst lush green mountains

Ahhh, the madness that comes of fearing the unknown.

As I sit here on this train with rapid Alpine rivers rolling below me and lush green mountains towering above, I feel something I only rarely feel: I’m coming home.