Friday, August 19, 2011

April 20th: What Have I Got Myself Into....

So our time in Austria wasn`t so much about exploring cities as it was about experiencing the outdoor activities that the Tyrol region is known for. And somehow I talked myself into joining the morning mountain bike ride.

Have I mentioned that I hadn`t been on a bike in at least ten years? Or maybe fifteen? That seems like an important piece of information to get across. :)

It all started out well and good, getting helmets fitted and being given bikes. Admittedly, the initial pedaling around the drive of the guest house was a bit wobbly, but then we headed out along this road through a grass valley with the sun shining on us and it all seemed like a great idea. We were encouraged to go along at our own pace, which meant I ended up near the back with my lack of need-for-speed, and my slight nervousness at being on a bicycle again.

We stopped at this point above for a brief break and were told that this was our last chance to turn around. Feeling good, I decided to keep on pedaling.

Of course, nice, peaceful meadow riding turned into up-the-gravel-road riding. We were on mountain bikes after all. That should have been my first sign.

I kept pedaling along at my own speed. Hampered by my congested lungs/sore throat and my lack of physical ability. (By this point in the trip a majority of us had caught some illness or another. The coughing up your lungs thing spread quickly with us all stuck on a bus every other day.) I did manage to ride up the whole way though. No walking the bike, which I was proud of. :)

The stream looked like a lovely place to stop and cool off as a couple people did, but I was worried that if I stopped for too long, I wouldn't get started again!

One of our biking guides stopped at this map to explain where we were from the guest house and how far up we rode. None of which I remember. I do remember having a massive coughing fit in the middle of it though. While all were quiet trying to listen to her talk. Strange what we end up remembering. :)

Eventually we hit the mid-point of our route and started heading (mostly) back downhill.

If you look at the picture below, that curving road at the bottom was the same road we were on near the beginning of the ride. Proof that we actually did a lot of uphill climbing!

The downhill half was the best part of the ride.....obviously! Lots of coasting past cute little chalets perched on the hillside and through woody forested areas, back down to the same flat road through the valley that we were riding on in the first picture of this post.

This picture below amuses me. We were asked to walk our bikes around this sharp corner as there was lots of traffic and not much room to ride. The bit of blueish building through the trees on the left side of the road is the guest house we were staying in.

We had a barbeque lunch after the ride. Heavy on sausage and potato salad. I tried some Almdudler. Funny name, but basically tastes like gingerale.

After lunch. Paragliding.

After driving in a van up an incredibly switch-backy road, we arrived at the top of this meadow. Far, far above the valley below. (Actually, it looked further down from here than it did when standing in the valley looking back up the hill. Why is that?)

The group of us got ourselves strapped into our harnesses....

And the guides got our parachutes ready...

And then we had to run downhill, and not stop running until we were well off the ground.

Slight mess-up at this point. My guide and I had a bit of communication issue, he thought we were running....I wasn't quite ready....lost my footing....not the greatest takeoff ever apparently. But we made it. I shouldn`t dwell on it, haha. He did tell me later, after a smooth landing, that I was much better at landing than I was at that`s something I suppose. :)

It was very relaxing being up in the air even being as high up as we were. Lazily floating along in the sunshine enjoying the view was great.

Also great was the roller coaster-y part where my guide whipped the parachute (glider?) around in a bunch of quick, tight circles. Felt just like a roller coaster, which was so much fun.

After paragliding, we headed back to the guest house. I ended up heading back to my room and climbing up onto my bunk where I attempted to update my trip notes on my laptop. (I was aiming to take notes for every day of the trip but I failed. I was either too tired or didn't have enough time or was trying to send emails home, so it was low on my priority list. Although if I'm honest with myself, I hadn't expected that I would make it though whole way through. :) I've always been great at starting journals....not so great at finishing them. Hmm....something like my progress with updating my blog? Lol.)

I had plugged my headphones in and was listening to music so as to not disturb a couple of my roommates who were napping. And I ended up napping too. For a couple hours.

It was heavenly. :)

After my lengthy nap, and dinner, a smaller group of us ended up in the common room watching a movie. Not that I can remember what it was now... but it was a nice quiet way to unwind and relax after the day.

And in the morning we would be leaving Austria to head for Germany. Tomorrow would be a busy day!


1 comment:

  1. My Gawd, two posts in two days!
    What a fun day that was:) As you know, I do have a bike that you borrow anytime, but I'm a little low on parachutes at the moment!