All posts by Alex Laird

Day 15 – to Mestre/Venice – by Barb Mathies

93 kms on flat terrain

Final briefing from Alen

This resort area also closed up and quiet

What?  It’s over?!  93 kms and ready ferry over to walk through Venice

The Moses Project, Damir stated, to enclose the Venice lagoon only in times of high winds coupled with high tides. 

The infamous Bridge of Sighs
The infamous crowds
San Marco Plaza

The three course farewell dinner
David sings as we requested
Rick thanks Damir and Alen for our truly well-run and much enjoyed four country tour

David’s gift to Alen

No more food!  Rick purchased a rose for each lady.  Awww.  
So.  It has been a great group, with glorious cycling, ending in new friendships and memories.  Thanks for reading our blog, and to Max for making it possible!

Final Day – Into Venice

It was a long and busy day from Babione into Venice.  93.2 kilometres with a mere 106 meters of elevation gain.  We got of a half hour early because of the long day.  The 93.2 kilometres only took us to Sabbioni.  From there we took boat to Venice proper.  

We landed near San Marco square and mingled with the horde of other tourists we made our way through Venice toward our hotel in Maestro.

After many speeches, more than a few drinks, a very fine dinner and many songs (some of them even in English) we all said our farewells to a very fine trip.  


Day 14 – Udine to Bibione – by Barb Mathias


82 kms mostly flat

All but one cyclist got past the barricade. I fell sideways slipping off my pedal.

The walled city of Pama something. Much like Lucca.



A bug day. Clouds of flying ants smacking our faces and bodies. Kept our mouths shut.

Rustling leaves of huge fields of dried corn. The hard kind for cornmeal and flour, we supposed.

Time out as Damir fixed another flat

Arrival at our near the beach hotel


Trish’s first Apercol spritz

Delores came back from her swim commenting on the sea of umbrellas.
She didn’t exaggerate.

The Adriatic Sea

The wonderful fine sand patterns

Imagining the crowds if all umbrellas were taken. But the crowds had left.

Mosquitos attacked for the first time here, but the seafood was delicious!

Day 13 – Kobarid to Udine

It was a short and easy ride today.  Only 53.4 kilometres with an elevation gain of 161 meters.  However it was a day of dramatically changing geography.  We rode for about 10 kilometres to get to the Italian boarder.  

During that time we continued to ride in the deep valleys typical of Slovenia.  As we got further into Italy opened up and eventually became quite flat by the time that we reached Udine.  Also gone was the rich black soil of Germany and Austria.  The light brown rocky soil of Italy is distinctly different.

Udine is a large (approximately 100,000 residents) and very old city.  It is distinctly not tourist oriented.  It is a industrial and economic centre for the region.  None the less it has some amazing architecture. For example this Venetian Villa on the main town square.

Tomorrow is another easy day across the flat countryside, but distinctly longer at over 80 kilometers.

Day 12 – Bled to Kobarid – by Barb Mathias


Typical old barn construction

Oh, yes, seeing lots of these…



Fender innovation

Beautiful greens and blue waters

Bean and cabbage soup

Cottage Cheese and apple strudel

Second train day showing the CarTrain

Yoga moves became a push-up competition. Both were strong but David lasted.

Bike loading

Damir had to stay with the van

At Napoleon Bridge above Kobarid. No sport jumping today – 21 metre drop

Jota. Famous bean sauerkraut soup

Jazbec Hotel, warm hospitality, gave all of us a black cycling head scarf

Day 12 – Bled to Kobarid

We awoke to a light but steady drizzle in Bled.  We got underway as usual at about 9:00 headed for the train station in Bohinjska Bistrica.  Our original plan was to catch the train before lunch.  However the train with the bicycle car was not available until 1:25.  So we rode to Bohinjska Bistrica where most of us added a few extra kilometers with a nice ride over to the picturesque lake of Bohinjsko Jezero.  

After lunch at the local super market we headed for the train station and our trip through the mountains to the Soca river valley.  The railway trip was an experience in itself.  The track was laid in 1903, I believe.  It doesn’t look like a lot has changed since then.  Complete with a conductor with his head and red flag out the window to communicate with the engine.

After our train ride it was a quick 20k to our hotel on the outskirts of the historic town of Kobarid.  Some busy local roads, but mostly idyllic lanes that wound through one tiny little village after another.

Tomorrow only 10k to the Italian border.

Day 10 – Villach to Bled – by Barb Mathias


Heavy fog over the river Drau to start

The sun will appear

First detour off river cycle path

Uncommon longhaired horned cattle

Looks and feels like Fall. Wikipedia claims that Slovenia is the most water-rich country in the world.

Damir and Ray consulting with a local cyclist about the detour suggested

Any guesses?  Charlotte told us this is a field of buckwheat.

This is it, the start of the serious climbing.

A map suggests, it does not tell the whole tale. From C to K took over 1.5 hours. Cool air and shadows helped.

(Only two, Damir and Larry, cycled the whole way).


Oh gawd it is slow. Hm, that patch reminds me of the British Isles…

Good van support. Alen offered rides to any requesting relief, and carried our day packs to the summit.

Out of the fog.

There’s always botany while pushing up an 18% grade…

Past history looking towards Austria

And we made it to Slovenia!  Third country of the tour.  
And the cycling day is only half done.

Rorschach asphalt blot comparison

Yay. In beautiful Slovenia with earned downhill cycling ahead. Flying down smoothly paved roads, wind in the helmet rigging, yahoo.

Lunch outside at this famous ski resort town


The Slovenian wooden racks are puzzling.

Lots of selective logging throughout the tour so far. Most homes have huge amounts of split wood stored nearby.

The cycle paths are remarkably well done in all three countries. Paved or well-packed gravel, separated from vehicles, well-signed.

Aha. Finally evident. Hay drying.

Nearing Bled


And in our new room

Lake Bled and the local oar-powered boat for rent

And finally, a local dish – Cepachcîcî. Or something like that…


Day 8 – Mallnitz

Today we rode from St. Johann to Mallnitz.  A relatively short day at only 47.9 kilometers, but a wee bit of climbing with a total elevation gain of 1039 meters.  In the process we crossed to the southern side of the alps.

We started the day with gentle meandering along the river.  It didn’t take long before the grade picked up as we ascended to the very interesting reservoir show below. 

Most of the day today was on country roads rather than bike trail.  But much of that had very little traffic.  Below is David on one of these beautiful stretches.

Although there was no threat of rain today, most people were wrapped up because of the temperature as we gained in altitude.

This is a fairly heavily travelled biking route.  At one point we were chatting with a couple who introduced themselves as coming from a country called Canada.  We pointed out that yes we had heard of Canada.  It turns out that they are from Salt Springs Island.  They are riding their recumbent tandem on a 3 month tour of Europe.  Barry & Mary Ellen Bartlet.  You can read all about their adventure on their blog.

Although we had been climbing most of the day, the serious stuff came after lunch in the town of Bad Gastein.  It is a beautiful old resort town.


It’s most interesting feature is the waterfall right in the middle of town.  We rode alongside the falls as we climbed.  I stopped about half way up to take a picture of what we had just climbed and another of what we had yet to look forward to.

Finally! The train station at the top.  From here all the cars and all the bikes board a very nice electric train that takes you through a tunnel to southern side of the alps.

We spend the night in Mallnitz, just a couple of kilometres from the mouth of the tunnel.  It is a very small town, more of ski resort really.  It won’t be too long before it springs to life as the snow creeps further down the mountain.


Day 7 – Salzburg to Sankt Johann – by Barb Mathias


Starting out wet in Salzburg

And 7° C

Alongside the Salzach river

And our first sight of snow

The sole construction delay

Stopping to choose to check out a castle, versus moving along.

Alen pointed out that one castle is much like another…and the road is drying so we opted to cycle

Lunch stop in a resort town

63 kms done; found this comfortable hotel ready for us

The view looked good

And life got better

One highlight was spotting this salamander en route as it wambled across the bike path. Turns out it is considered to be pretty special in Austria, featured on a stamp and on a train.

And the view and weather improved.

Wiener schnitzel is everywhere, but there are other options, like this Turkish platter

 And so Day 7 ends, with a promise of a decent day ahead.

Day 6 – Salzburg Rest Day – by Barb Mathias

There were 17 stories in this rainy Austrian city. “This is just one of them”…

Inside the massive Dom in the plaza

One can recline on the wooden bench to listen to the acoustics generated by this machine, reverberating through the cathedral

Strolling along the Salzach river under awesome trees

Rick is gazing at the commanding fortress high above Salzburg

We chanced upon a Mausoleum in centre of the city where such rich and notable persons like Paracelus are entombed.

A sea of umbrellas.  A day to be off bikes.

Our hotel is on the other side of this imposing rock wall

Accessed via this pedestrian/cycle tunnel.

The top is accessible by a lift or funicular for a good view

With luck we will have a dry cycling day tomorrow.

Day 5 – Traunstein to Salzburg – by Barb Mathias

Park Hotel is an updated classic

 Lots of selective logging activity in the forests but this is the only truck so far

 The pavement and bike paths are impressive

The crowing rooster
Lots of gear changing on this weather-fractious day


Look for this town’s activities

 Could be the upper Bow River in Alberta

 Larry Wilson checking out the ducks and hunting blind

 Pizza for Max, Delorus, Rick and David

Andrew and Allen top up

 26% grade?!  Happily short

 The wending path

 Edelweiss stems for sale

 Considering fat tire merits

 Datura plantings and dirdl costumes. The vest alone can be €259…

 Fading Artichoke blooms 

 A long day. Seventy kms done, only eleven more, plus rain and one flat tire. 


 Our rest day. Phbbbt. 

Day 4 – Neubeuern to Traunstein – by Barb Mathias



Just another beautiful town in Bavaria

Even the slugs are tidy

A gondola town

Lunch service

These poles showcase the activities and economies of the town

We trailed behind him as he took up the width of the path but at 22 kms/hr…

Van support

Lovely hotel. Unloading the van.

An intelligent gaze…

Bavarian lobby decor

Outside the Hofbräuhaus I spotted a Sphinx moth at the top of the Lantana planting. Often confused with hummingbirds as their wings blur and the tongue is long.

Ah, the dark bier!