In the mountains between Lunz am See and Mariazell in Steirmark
("Ahrnold" country). Half an hour after I took this
picture I was climbing a long, 18% grade, standing up in my
lowest gear, zig zagging back and forth across the road to
lessen the steepness, when thunder pealed off the mountainside
and lightning ripped a whole in the sky. Wind, hail and
water poured forth in a torrent and, being caught off guard, I
was soaked to the bone. Wake up call for Chuck Anderson!
Hello?! How long have you been cycle touring?
This is the top of a mountain Pass, Zellerain, about 11 km west and above scenic Mariazell. See the steam coming off the road? That's from the above mentioned downpour. This is another 18% grade that I had just finished climbing. There is a small Gasthaus at the crest of the pass and I considered stopping to eat, dry out, and warm up. But, as the sun had returned for a while, I was beginning to dry out and warm up, so I was not as concerned for my safety as I had been while getting here.
I stopped at the top and put on extra clothes for the descent. It was labeled as a 22% grade in spots and it was hard work keeping the brakes applied so that I didn't approach a runaway velocity. As it turned out, I did not need extra clothes to ward off the chill, as it was hard work descending, and it was slow going. This is not the fun way to descend a mountain pass. Usually you make up for time lost during the long, arduous climb.
As I got closer to Mariazell it began to rain again, a slow steady rain that lasted into the evening. I rode through a rain soaked campground, full of rain soaked campers, looking for a suitable site . . . and then I left. I spent the night at a very clean and comfortable, family run B&B in Mariazell (hosted by Frau Molnar), and had dinner at the Wirsthaus Brauerei where I was introduced to what I honestly believe is the best beer to ever pass over my lips, a barley and wheat beer brewed on site by the Familie Girrer.
These are the days I dream about.