A plunge to the valley floor this morning, and then a day of more green and lovely plains in warm autumn mountainscapes. And, perhaps most pleasingly, a rhubarb Streusel: sunny Austrian castle-town cafe meets gloomy Yorkshire forcing-shed.
One stretch of riverside cycle path in Bischofshofen was so good we could have turned right round and ridden it again. Which was just as well. We had to, because a bridge was closed, so a backtrack and a detour it was.
It was all pretty fast riding, assisted by a huge tailwind on a stretch of downhill road winding down a steep-sided valley, traffic-calm thanks to a parallel motorway. Elevenses was coffee and cake (that rhubarb Streusel) in Werfen, an attractive village overlooked by a castle.
There was another pass to climb over – Lueg – though much smaller than the previous two whoppers of Arlberg and Thurn.
Somehow Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Climb ev’ry mountain didn’t quite catch my mood. I wasn’t struggling, or in need of dewy-eyed inspiration from a wise old nun. I was just very happy and enjoying a pretty easy ride in gorgeous weather and landscape. I’d already found my dream. A dream completed when I could settle down with my post-ride beer.
There was more gentle downhill along beautiful smooth paths in verdant alpine levels; yes, it’s getting repetitive, but it’s a repetition that makes for perfect cycling.
In Hallein we filled our pockets with ATM cash and our stomachs with Billa bargains, and rode the last few miles alongside the grey-blue Salzach river on good tarmac, and sometimes gravel, paths to Salzburg, arriving mid-afternoon.
We’d passed through here a few weeks before on the previous leg of our Interrail trip and didn’t need to sightsee; this was purely a functional overnight, at the same lively hostel as before.
We didn’t get the same room, which meant I couldn’t check under the bed in case that’s where I left my cycling jacket. I suspect it’s somewhere on a luggage rack on a Cologne to Salzburg express.
The hostel bar offered wifi, work desks, and good-value pizza and beer, all of which we enjoyed, though perhaps not in that order.
Miles today: 46
Miles since Bangs: 287