Editor's Blog: Mugello Road Trip - Day 2: The Rain In Austria Falls Mainly On Me

Day two of my trek to Mugello was the highlight of the trip, when seen from the comfort of the desk in my office. From southern Germany through Austria, taking in a pass or two, then on into Italy and a choice of options, depending on my mood and the time I would need to find lodgings.

Unfortunately, I had not reckoned with two things: the first was the weather; the second was my own stupidity. I had drawn up a back up route in case of poor weather, but it was different in only one aspect. I had intended on riding the Hahntennjoch in Austria, a slightly less well-known pass, but one with a reputation for being a great ride. After reading that the pass is infamous for mud and rock slides, I added a back up route in case it rained. And boy did it rain.

. There was a lot of it

Mountains sheathed in clouds look impressive. If you are sitting indoors...

It was dry as I loaded up the bike this morning, stopping to chat with a local journalist who regaled me with tales of his Triumph TR5 and BSA Gold Star. As I left Memmingen, the first drops of rain started to fall, and they continued all the way through Austria and over the Fernpass until I reached the bottom of the Reschenpass, the low mountain pass past Nauders and into Italy. My trusty BMW R1200GS displays the ambient air temperature (or rather, a wildly inaccurate version of the air temperature, usually three or more degrees centigrade out) which I use as a makeshift weather gauge. If the temperature drops then I know it's likely to rain.

The temperature did not drop. It stayed cold, and wet, for most of the day. At one point, as the A12 turned north to join the B180 at Landeck, I was overjoyed to find myself in a tunnel for 8 kilometers or so. Normally, I avoid tunnels, but the chance to be dry for a few minutes, and to warm up – ambient temperature jumped by about 10 degrees – was something I was very glad of indeed.

The fort at Nauders

At the bottom of the Reschenpass, near Mals (or Malles Venosta – South Tyrol, the northern part of Italy, is still German speaking, as the area was taken from Austria and handed to Italy after the First World War) I ran into another miscalculation. Just as I reached the roundabout where I could choose to head west over the Stelvio or east towards Merano and over the Gampenpass, a police car blocked the route. Tuesday was the day that the Giro d'Italia crossed the Stelvio pass, before heading on to the Val Martello. I happened to arrive at the bottom of the Reschenpass just as the first preparations were taking place to clear the roads for the world's elite cyclists.

Small comfort: I was not the only one forced to wait

It proved to be a long wait, fortunately in front of a restaurant serving coffee. It was a very damp and bedraggled lot who had made it over the Stelvio (preceded by the Gavia, both passes well over 2600 meters), and passed in front of us. The field was very strung out, taking the best part of 40 minutes to pass. Never have I admired human determination more than seeing the faces of those riders in the face of such miserable conditions. When I found out that it had been snowing up on both the Gavia and Stelvio, I found it was possible to admire them more.

The peleton, looking bedraggled.

Their passing made my decision easy. If I was to make it to my hotel before the reception closed and left me stranded – it has happened to me once before, at Brno, and I was only saved by the good graces of the ever-generous Andrew Wheeler – there was no time for me to make it over the Stelvio. Given the prevailing conditions, of which I had no idea at that time, it was probably a good thing.

The peloton took the rain clouds with them to the west, and the sun broke out just as I started on the final leg of my journey to Lake Garda. Two hours riding in the sunshine feels an awful lot better when you spent the first four or so in the pouring rain...

Riva Del Garda

Tomorrow, I head to Florence, and the last leg of my journey, for the moment at least.

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David, thanks for taking us along.

Getting wet on a MC and pushing onward separates the riders from the posers.

You were able to see a race, although briefly, on your way to the race. Excellent!

Nothing better than a motorcycle road trip (to Mugello) and thanks for sharing Dave, but hopefully it was warm rain!

makes me feel like I am riding along with you. Been following the Giro, and it is funny that you would run into the race as you are heading to Mugello. This one and the one before are great reading. Looking forward to hearing more of your adventure.

Reminds me of last year (in a car thankfully) when the plan was to leave Borgo Panigale after the Ducati factory and museum tour and go over the famous Futa Pass. March 2013 had us sliding around in SNOW! But soon enough you'll be in Tuscany enjoying a proper Florentine beefsteak and Sangiovese wine. Great roads around there based on my bicycle experience, we used to ride close enough to Mugello to look at the track through the fence. One of these days seeing MOTOGP there is in the cards. As they say in Italy, BUON DIVERTIMENTO!

Yeah, yeah, like everyone else says, very nice. I'm jealous.
Thanks for the great pictures. Now where's the race preview?!

This is Rossi's 300th start, at his home track, and his form is coming good. Jorge is desperate for a good result, and this would seem to be the venue for it. Marquez is coming to the track as an older, wiser man, looking to make amends for last year. Bautista wants to continue his form. Ducati want a good result at home. They tested here recently, looking for an advantage. Pol wants to continue his form. Brad wants to beat Pol. Bradl wants to beat Bautista. Etc., etc.

This race is ripe for hype.
I need the kind of race buildup that only you can deliver :-)

Race isn't till Sunday. Plenty of time yet! I'll be writing a preview of sorts on Thursday. As you say, plenty to look forward to.