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Transalp 2004

David & I wanted to cross the Alps this summer but I always had to take part in one race or another and we kept procrastinating. When we finally finished our preparations and had time for a crossing it was already late September, yet  we still decided to go through with it.The forecasts were mixed but just good enough to make such a tour possible.

We took a train to Oberstdorf in the Allgäu (German Alps) on Wednesday and immediately hopped on our bikes once we got there. The weather was “fine”, i. e. it didn’t rain and it was tolerably warm. Despite the fact that my rear derailleur got caught in the spokes on the very first climb, the trip through this picturesque valley was very nice.


Having soon reached the end of the valley, we had to get over the famous 1600 m (5000 ft.) high Schrofenpass, a really bad surprise for  unsuspecting bikers who blindly follow the guidebook. David thought I was joking when I pointed out way to him.

Klick to enlarge!

Luckily I’ve also lost my fear of heights since I’m not afraid of death any more. And so I casually shouldered my bike and speedily walked up the narrow path with David following a bit more carefuly a few metres behind. Well, I was temping fate and fate was testing my reflexes a little. I slipped, grazed my shin on a rock and the next moment I was hanging just below the path by one hand, the other one still clutching my bike that was now lying on top of me. I could not move an inch without losing my grip.David, who had been 10 m behind, remained very calm and did everything right. He took care of his own bike first, then rescued my beloved KTM and then carefully offered me his ankle for support (no chance of reaching me with his hand). This took him about 90 seconds but it seemed like an eternety to me. All the time I was trying to estimate how much longer I could hold on to the slippery gravel and I really had to restrain myself from telling him something like “you’ve got about 15 seconds to rescue me”. Instead we talked about the situation very calmly and kept my cool at least outwardly. I was a bit disturbed, though, when I asked David “What’s behind me?” and he dryly answered “Nothing”. A fall down this 150-foot cliff would have hurt a lot, I think.

This is where I nearly joined the dodos. Looks less steep than it is.

Anyway - after a short rest we climbed on and soon reached the mountain pass, which is a natural border between Germany and Austria. The weather was still OK and we continued our journey on small asphalt roads for a while. In Zug it begain to rain and as we climbed the road up to Lake Formarin and the Freiburger Hütte, a house build by hikers from Freiburg in 1912. Shortly before we reached the house at 1931m / 6335 ft., the temperature dropped to 4°C and it began to snow. We were the only bikers up there and the Landlord pitied us so much that we only had to pay half price for our beds.

The best moments on Thursday morning.

Hopefully we’ll see the house like this next summer!

The next morning it rained and it was clear that it wouldn’t stop anytime soon. The forecast also predicted the onset of winter on Friday, so we decided to turn back and try to get home as quickly as possible. Five days earlier we could have still made it.

Since we’d gone uphill most of the time the day before, we could roll downhill a lot on our way back and we had a good tailwind. Still, the rain was pretty cold and our gear wasn’t really waterproof. The descent down the wet Schrofenpass was even harder than going up the day before but we were very careful this time and had no real problems. After another 6-hour trainride we reached Freiburg and our warm and cosy home.

A biker’s diary.