first part of the journey

On August 20th 2022 the bike is packed,  the new passport has arrived and the weather is good enough to start a new adventure. Kathrin joins me on the first days of this journey. Together we cross the Alpine passes Albula, Bernina and the Fuorcla di Livigno. After a pretty cold night on the campground, we ride on a popular and steep MTB route up to Col Alipsella. From there a rather adventurous MTB track leads through Val Mora up to the picturesque Döss Radönt (2234m) that is fully controlled by curious marmots. From there a long gravel roads brings us down to Mustair.

From Mustair we continue on the popular bike track "Via Claudia Augusta" to Naturs on our ride to Bolzano. This bike track is well developed and takes the cyclists away from the traffic of the main roads. After Merano we leave the bike track and spend a night and half of the next day at the Voran Alp, before descending to Bolzano, where we spoil ourselves with a hotel and splendid evening in town before we have to say good bye to each other on the next morning.

Eager to make pace, eager to get on I zoom through the fantastic Dolomite mountain ranges. To avoid the main traffic, I choose a route with less famous passes. I cross the Nigerjoch and the San Pellegrino, spend a night on the idyllic Camping Eden in Falcade. It's been a big day with 75km and 2400 elevation meters, and I sleep like a stone. The next day brings me up to Passo Duran, down to Forno and then up to the Fuorcla di Cibiana.

Initially I wanted to camp for a night at the official campground at the Lago di Cadore. That campground was closed and abandoned, so I had to continue Domegge di Cadore. Lucky charms led me to a small charming pension off the main road with a lovely backyard. Tommy the host served me some well deserved Radler and we quickly started to talk about traveling, about being abroad, about everything basically. And about the rain that was predicted for tomorrow. Later, Tommys colleagues would show show up. Wed have more beers, I'd learn some Italian and eventually, have diner with the only other guest Danilo. Danilo works on some power plant in the mountains I wanted to cross next, and spent his live working on power plants all over the world.

Long story short, I enjoy a somewhat rainy rest day at Tommys place and by the end of the following day, I guess I know all his friends. One of them presents me one of his self made lucky charms dolometti. Danilo tells a about the heavy rain in the mountains and I'm fairly happy I stayed in the pension rather than on the abandoned campground. To be so welcome, to feel so invited by total strangers is such a great experience.

With a dizzy head I climb up the fantastic road to Sella Ciampigotto. It is rather cold up here, just 13°C at noon and it already feels like autumn in the alps. A young mountain biker I meet on the way spends his holidays with his tribe, yet lives in Cambridge and makes his living on molecular biology. He tells me that the locals speak an ancient German dialect here. Yet still I move on, cross a dripping tunnel and climb up to Passo Duro (and collected a lot of trash). From here I descent down to Tagliamento valley. With good luck I end up on a lovely down-to-earth campground called Ai Piopi that seems to be a famous stop over on the popular Alpe Adria bike trail. So I eventually get to see a bunch of other cyclists.

After a brief visit in Venzone I enter Val Resia and head for the Sella Carnizza, the last alpine pass before Slovenia. An sign on the road says the road is closed. I dare anyway. Almost no traffic for the entire climb. An Italian motorcyclist takes over, comes back some 20 minutes later and tells me about huge concrete blocks that block the road. I might be able to lift the bike over. No clue what comes afterwards. Luckily it works out well, and after the descent I find myself in Slovenia, and soon after in the famous Socia valley (with lots of traffic and no alternative routes for cyclists, in some stretches). By 4PM I arrive at a campground in Kobarid and enjoy a dip into the ice cold Socia river.

Hallo Welt