Sunday, September 11, 2011


Box on wheels does not make the driver invulnerable nor confer priority over those on Push/pedal bikes , yet there are elements of the population that leave their brains at home when they get behind the wheel !

Friday through Sunday has been glorious weather here in the Tirol but it has been marred each day by what some may consider trivial but could have resulted in a hospital visit at the very least .

Austria has lovely country for cycling in if you can contend with the traffic on the Bundesstrasse , the main roads that are secondary to the Autobahn system . Tirol has the “ 171 “ running from Kufstein through Innsbruck to Imst and points west . Normally no difficulty to ride this route without interference and in some areas there are bike paths alongside for the mountain biker or touring bike but the Race bike thin tyres can be subject to puncture since these paths are not always clean and the surfaces are broken up in many cases .

Between where I currently stay in the Inntal and Worgl & Kufstein there are cycle paths which form part of the “ Stephansweg ( Pilgrims route ) “ and these one track roads were primarily there for the farmers use , not often you have two tractors needing to pass each other but over the years they have been asphalt surfaced and if you stick to the middle you will not risk breaking a wheel by hitting a rut or a trench badly refilled . In some places there are tracks either side of the drainage ditch/canal affording alternative routes and thus reducing the traffic hazards .

Not sure of the speed limits that apply on these one track roads but a newly installed bridge over a ditch/canal has a 30kph sign as there are some entry points from other tracks there also .

Friday after several hours on the road I was heading west out of Kundl on one of these tracks pushing hard as I was only 15 mins from home so burning the energy . In the past I have ridden alongside another rider who reported we were doing 47kph and wanted to know if we were going fast enough . He was coming from Kitzbuhel that day and was heading into the Zillertal and Gerlos before Mittersell and home . Passing a red car that poked it’s nose on to the track causing me to avoid a collision I piled on the pace once again but about a kilo down the track it was using the klaxon . Since the road surface was broken up at that point and we were approaching the bridge I stayed where I was and went through the bridge somewhat quicker than the posted speed but the driver must have been airborne as he chased me down the road .

Further along the road takes a right towards a “ chapel with a water trough “ and so he went straight ahead . While I passed the chapel in a straight line he poked out from the left once again trying to force his will against all decency . Further along the road has grass on either side so he drove his lhs wheels onto the grass then swerved across my line forcing me onto the grass on the right . I managed to stay upright but further up the road he reached across pushed the rhs door open and then swung his door open thus blocking the one track road then came to a halt . Again I hit the grass and stayed upright but continued up the road to a pedestrian that I had seen .

On asking him what he had seen he said that he saw the car force me off the road and then throw the doors open . When the car drove up the old man got out and started raving in German , in fact the pedestrian had to step in when he threw a punch . Then the bystander told me the driver was a “ Nachbar ( neighbour ) so he could not help me even though he thought “ the fool should not be driving “ ! With this it was obvious I was unlikely to get any further help and wished like “ Cycling silk “ and others that I wore a helmet camera .

Saturday was also warm and sunny and when I found myself in a narrow road with pedestrians either side I slowed somewhat but whilst I had right of way and was on my side of the road an impatient driver pulled over so that he was heading directly at me and accelerated scattering some of the pedestrians . His wing mirror caught my hand on the handlebars raising a bruise but he continued on and there was no point to try and chase him down . One time I had a similar problem in the west of Innsbruck and had to chase several kilos before I caught the idiot but even then I got no result .

Sunday dawned warmer and with a clear blue sky I headed up the climb to Seehof and Haus as I had done in the “ Boring Eurosport “ post . Many mountain bikers dawdling up the climb but no target to chase . Arriving in the Breitenbach roundabout I saw another race bike heading over the bridge but then saw him turn west towards Kramsack and I was not about to head that direction so soon . Just then another rider appeared heading towards Kundl which suited me better .

Talk about grabbing the tail of a Tiger , this guy was driving the bike and was not looking to take prisoners ! Charging down the road without any seeming effort since he was in the middle of the cassette on the big ring and there I was pumping hard to get into and then stay in his slipstream . Slowing to take some turns in the road and then to go through a covered bridge left little time to discover his destination but eventually we were on a farm track and I was able to pull alongside and see that he was on a Carbon Simplon and grab a few words and the destination he was heading towards . For me Kufstein was a regular short trip so this suited me admirably . Only when there were narrow lanes to contend with did he ease the pace and then only to let the traffic hazard pass . Eventually we exchanged a few words as we bowled along in the 40’s and then I even got to go point a few times . At one point I even got the camera out to take a shot which is not easy when going full bore .

Today’s bike was the black alloy “Specialised “ with 55 on 11 and that he remarked seemed to be hard work . Each time I got on point I was trying to pull the pedals up as well as use the TT position and it was only as we neared Kufstein that I felt he was easing off the pace .

After parting I continued on to Rosenheim in Germany which added another couple of hours to the trip . One point the road rises on a 13% climb and there were a few other shorter climbs to cause a drop in pace . On the outskirts of Rosenheim I saw a fast moving group so spun around to join for a few kilos . When we parted I realised how much of a head wind I was going to have to contend with on the roads back to Kufstein so crossed the river to take an alternative route which I had travelled during the “ Deutschland Tour “ some years ago . This part of Germany has some nice villages with doglegs through the centre of the village .

One such village has a climb that slows me to about 25kph and then runs under an arch and then descends on a winding road to the outskirts . Coming down this hill I had an open car overtake recklessly since I was over 50 kph and there was a car coming so I was even more unsettled when a motorbike swung around in front of me then applied the brakes causing me to swing left and take the corner faster than him and so he was in my trail once again . Passing out of the village he pulled alongside and started abusing me for passing him even though I was still on the bumper bar of the white car .

Eventually he pulled back as traffic was coming and then repeated the harassment and then had the gall to suggest I should be on the cycle path which had started whilst he was endangering me . After a while my attitude got to him and I had to warn him that should he persist the motorbike would be carrying three and a bike because I was not going to allow him to force me off the road . Message seemed to get through or the woman on the pillion had had enough and he was gone . These cycle paths are generally a good idea IF they start in town and run alongside the route through the various villages but can also be dangerous when the inhabitants are about with children or unleashed dogs .

Generally as I race down the cycle paths I come across two fully loaded “ pilgrims “ side by side so call out “ Helloo “ about 100m back and again 50m which causes them to look thus I know they are aware and “ Danke “ as I pass , rarely do they refuse to allow passing . Odd occasions I have had a gaggle of touring bikes coming towards me blocking the whole road and even though they see you arriving some will even wander further onto the wrong side of the road causing the likelihood of collision , defies the imagination as to what is the reason !

Cycling Etiquette was covered about a month or so ago but only had one comment which makes me wonder why others have not contributed their thoughts on this subject .

PLEASE THINK ABOUT A CONTRIBUTION ! You can also entertain others with “ How I met Skippy “!




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