Category Archives: Austria

Crossing the Alps

Thursday started off freezing.  Wednesday night was our first night in the tent, and while it was a balmy +15 degreees when we pulled into Liechtenstein late on Wednesday afternoon, it was icy when we woke in the campground the next morning.  The sort of damp cold that penetrates everything.  Even our super warm Khyam sleeping bags were unable to cope with this damp sub zero cold and I had no choice by to head for the showers at 6am, frozen to the core, for a half hour long scalding hot shower just to warm up.

We packed up camp and hit the road eventually about 10:30 all set to face the Arlberg region of Austria.  It was still only 1 degree above freezing.  We had two passes to deal with today:  the Brenner Pass was the main one.  At 1370 metres its one of the lowest but most important crossings in the whole Alps.  We had been stopped and told by a swiss motorcyclist the previous day that passes over 1400 metres still have snow and ice on the road surfaces.  But the Brenner was so important to European commerce that it was bound to be open.  We were less certain about the Arlberg Pass.  At 1800 metres, we thought it would be closed and we would have to pay the big bucks and use the Arlberg tunnel to cross from the Rhine basin to the Danube basin.  But we were in luck. Austrian alpine signs proclaimed the pass open, and I said to Jonathan that if the pass was open, it behooved Sibirsky Extreme to take it on.

And so we did.  Long before we got to the pass we passed the village of Stuben, at around 1300 metres on the west side of the pass.  Stuben is a ski resort village part of the whole Arlberg complex, and sure enough we were riding passed stunned skiers, staring wide eyed as we rode up the mountain while they skied down it 5 metres away from us.  The pass was clear at 1800 metres and at that point we were a full 500 metres above the bustling ski resort of St Anton.  We descended the Eastern side of the pass only to find someone had already Sibirsky Extremed the St Anton sign!  Damn, we were too late again!

A couple of hour later, atop the Brenner Pass,  Jonathan stopped for a chat with Humphrey, an English cyclist who was off to China … it had taken him a whole month to get to the Brenner.  Good luck Humphrey.

Then it was Italy, and country number 10.  Weather was instantly shite on the Italian side.  Moist air pushing up on the alps … we pressed on in light rain to Lake Garda, where we found a bike friendly Hotel for the night.  We were in luck for there was a cheezy Tex-Mex place across the road and we feasted on Burritos and long overdue beers.  The idea of camping in the rain kinda sucked – so to find a bike friendly hotel where we could park the bikes in an underground garage was a nice end to the day.


It was 1 degree when we left Enzklosterle this morning, but we have managed to end the day in warm sunshine in Austria, having entered our 9th country.  So far GB, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and now Austria have been visited by the Sibirsky Extreme motorcycling bandwagon. (I dont think Wales counts as a separate country does it??)

Tomorrow, Italy should be country number 10.

We are camped in the Rhine valley, surrounded by Alps on all sides here … so far we have avoided the mountains (though there was plenty of snow in the Schwarzwald this morning above 600 metres … we did a lot of riding 800-900 metres amsl) but tomorrow does worry mee a bit.  We cross the Alps at one of the lowest points, the Brenner Pass (about 1300 metres from memory) but we have to get through the Arlberg first.  The Arlberg pass is still closed I think so we have to pay the big bucks and use the tunnel.

Someone seems to have got wind of our little project and we have been finding Sibirsky Extreme stickers all along our route, including border crossings and customs buildings!  I cant believe people would do such a thing!.