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Garmisch - Florence ´97

By Dieter Greipl, (


We (Juergen Schott, Carsten Buckenauer, Dieter Greipl) started on Sep-29 in Garmisch.
Day 1:  Reschen
Day 2:  St. Felix 
Day 3:  Idro
Day 4:  Cremona
Day 5:  Bologna
Day 6:  Firenze


Our usual bike tour to Firenze started late in September this year. We use race bikes (e.g. SPECIALIZED ALLEZ, Shimano 105, STI) and have our baggage in a backpack (app. 6 kg). Our baggage follows the recommendations of Jobst Brands minimal checklist for a bike tour. We - that is Carsten Buckenauer, Juergen Schott and myself - bike up to five-thousand km per year. Usually we go to the Alps several times per year and ride passes.  This year our condition was very different which caused us some problems during the ride.
We sleep in hotels and cheaper "Pensionen". Enjoying Italian dishes includes of course red and white wines and "caffee corretto". So we try to keep our trip in a balance between sport and holidays.

Day 1: Garmisch - Reschen (137km)

This year we met in Munich on September 28 and took our race bikes on the train to Garmisch, where we started into a sunny day at 9:00.  After two hours we climbed the Fernpaß and took our usual "Schweinebraten mit Weißbier" at the summit restaurant. We headed on to Landeck and biked the old street through Prutz, Tösens and Pfunds. The final stage of the day was the ascent to the Reschenpaß (1510m, 9%) - a wonderful narrow road, which looses steepness towards the Reschensee. Our initial plan was to sleep in Graun, but shortly after Pfunds a spoke of Carstens bike broke. In Reschen we know a big sportshop, which had helped us three years ago with a broken spoke of my bike, and so we stopped there and asked for help. Within half an hour Carstens bike was repaired. Since it was already getting dark, we looked for an accomodation for the night and finally stayed in Reschen in a "Gasthof" with swimming pool and a wonderful view over the Reschensee. After a long shower we felt to tired for the pool and had a good dinner in the restaurant.

Day 2, : Reschen - St. Felix (108 km)

Our second day started with cold but dry weather. We flew down to the Vinschgau with a strong, cold tailwind, which caused us to be careful and reduce a little bit from full speed. I remember, when we biked that road some years ago during summer with a short bike dress - a wonderful road. After a short discussion we decided to bike through the Vinschgau bypassing the Stilfser Joch, which we climbed in 1994. This year we felt not sure enough, wether we all are able to climb that giant ascent. It became warmer and warmer and when we had a bottle of white wine  in Lana (300m, south to Merano), we could take a sun bath. The day had still one climb reserved for  us: the Passo d. Palade (1518). The one and only time I climbed that pass was in 1993 and I could not remember his character. But after two kilometers the recall was more or less total. This is a hard one - and I realized that I had been better off without any wine. Staring on the asphalt and seeing my sweat running down I tried not to break the golden rule for passes: no stop during ascent. I finally made it and was very happy to see Juergen and Carsten coming after some time. Especially Carsten looked very tired. We promised him that this was the last ascent of the day and rolled on looking for a "Gasthof". We got rooms in the "Gasthof Pfitscher" (~1450m) near St. Felix and enjoyed the sundown with a Campari-Orange.

Day 3: St. Felix - Idro (136 km)

During breakfast we compared the status of our legs with the demands of the planned route southward  to the Lago d´Idro (~300m). Carsten felt not too good and was not excited about our idea to bike through Madonna di Campiglio over the Passo di Campo Carlo Magno (1682m). Finally he decided to take the route Cles (~550m) - Mezzocorona (~230m) - Trento (192) - Sarche - Tione (565m), which seemed to be longer, but without any hard climb.
So we started into a cold morning and went down from our Gasthof to Fondo (988m), where rising temperature and lower altitude allowed us to change to short clothes. In Cles wished Carsten all the best for his tour - Juergen and myself rolled on to Dimaro (766m) where we headed southward to the Passo Campo Carlo Magno. As the day before up to the Reschenpaß our climb changed slowly to an uphill race: both of us tried to keep pace or even increase speed when the other one seemed to be in difficulties.  My Polar heart rate monitor clearly indicated that I had entered my "red zone" but there was really no possibilty to ride that pass slower...
We took a short Cappuccino at the summit restaurant and enjoyed the great view of the Gruppo di Brenta. After some kilometers we reached Madonna di Campiglio (1500m), where we had a great lunch and relaxed in the hot autumn sun. This was our first tour where we had our mobile phones with us and we called Carsten to hear that everything is ok After app. two hours we started again and rolled down to Tione, our meeting point, where we saw Carsten relaxing in a bar. He looked a little bit stressed and needed some good arguments to continue down to Idro instead of looking for an accomodation directly in Tione.
Our way down to Idro was not as spectacular as biking through the Brenta Group and a strong headwind made each kilometer a hard one. In the previous years we enjoyed sleeping in hotels near the north italian lagos as the Lago di Como and Lago d´Iseo, and so we looked forward to the Lago d´Idro. But because of the end of the summer season we had some problems finding a hotel, and finally it was nearly getting dark when we found a cheap, unspectacular accomodation. But beds where hard, showers warm and ourselves tired and so we did not care. After dinner we watched the champions league game Juventus Turin -  Manchester United before we found an early way to bed.

Day 4: Idro - Cremona (121km)

After a good nights sleep we started early and rolled on two Salo at the Lago di Garda for a Cappuchino and a "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" and prepared mentally for the boring ride through the Po-Area, where we knew what expected us: flat streets and lots of traffic.
We passed Desenzano, Montichiari and  Leno and moved on southward to Cremona after crossing the highway A21. There where only left some kilometers to Cremona, when Juergen felt again problems with his Achillessehne, that had caused him difficulties already in the last years tour. He was able to go on to Cremona, but he was not sure, wether he could continue to bike the next day.
In Cremona we had again difficulties in finding a hotel. Everywhere they told us, that there is a music festival and all hotels are totally sold out. In the meantime it was slowly getting dark and we were afraid that we have to spend the night somewhere under the stars. Everybodies recommendation was to go on to Piacenza, what was impossible. Finally I asked a young guy, Salvatore Moschella, in a violine shop, whom I expected to understand our problem. It took him one phone call and we had a sleeping room in a nearby hotel, which was obviously not prepared to be rented, but we definitely did not care about that. Everything was better than sleeping at a train station. Thank you, Salvatore!

Day 5: Cremona - Bologna (166 km)

After breakfast Juergens injury turned out to be so serious, that the end of the tour had come for him. Carsten, who felt tired after the last days, decided to accompany Juergen in the train to Bologna, our next station. Therefore I started alone and left Cremona towards Sospiero and approached Parma. My initial plan was to visit the downtown of Parma, Reggio and Modena, but biking into the center of Parma took me such a long time, that I decided to bypass the cities. In Reggio I really had enough of the busy street with bad air and dangerous Lastwagen and rolled into teh Appenin through Scandiano, Sassuolo and Maranello, where the Ferrari headqarter is located. I got a call from Carsten and we fixed a meeting point in the heart of Bologna. They had been lucky to get a room there, because of another festival or whatever took place there.
A little bit tired after such a long ride I met my friends 5 pm. Bologna is a great city and we enjoyed a wonderful evening there. Carsten had recovered and decided to ignore the rail-connection to Firenze to make the Königsetappe on bike.

Day 6: Bologna - Firenze (107 km)

There is not much to say to that wonderful and hard tour to Firenze following the SS65 through Pianoro and Loiano. After a hard climb to app. 700m the street wins altitude very smoothly to the Passo di Raticosa (968m). When we made that tour the first time in August 1993 the guy in the hotel mentioned the nickname "Passo di Faticosa" and we did not understand what he meant. We do so now! Before reaching the pass, there is the wonderful, lonely trattoria "Al bel Minghen". It is a must to stop there for lunch. We never miss a Campari at the summit restaurant of the Raticosa. It is full of pictures and other memories of the Giro stages over the pass. The Futa Pass can be reached after making some meters again and is not really a pass. After the last ascent to Pratolino one can "feel" Firenze and suddenly the cuppola of the duomo shows in a great view. We always stop there and enjoy the emotions of beeing only some minutes away from that great city...


We spent two more days in Firenze and took the overnight train back to Munich. For the first time we could take our bikes with us on the train.
Juergens problems turned out to be same as the year before ("Achillessehnenreizung"). Obviously a consequence of his reduced training program.
The only technical problem was Carstens broken spoke.