The Better I Used to Be
Tuesday September 28
We had a room with a view, and what a view – with a blue sky. After yesterday this turnabout in the weather was hard to believe but the promising start for the day didn’t disappoint us. We had glorious weather from beginning to end.
From Algund we temporarily left the banks of the Etsch and after a few kilometers we were in the center of Meran, located on the Passer River with a beautiful backdrop of mountains. What a treat to have views of mountains all day long but not have to climb them. Meran, Bozen, Auer – I’ve passed through these towns many times by train or by car, but I’m finally riding my bike here. Come to think of it, I did ride my bike here once, many years ago. But more on that later.
The Etsch Valley bike path is almost perfect. Seldom did we have to share a road with cars, only once in a while was a bike path sign not obvious, and the views… But I say “almost” because the path isn’t perfect. It doesn’t pass through towns or villages, no shops or restaurants or cafes along the way, no people – in short no local atmosphere. As is the case in narrow valleys, industry and busy roads are squeezed into a small space. The only side roads end in the moutains. This is not favorable for cycling. So how can you object to a bike path that avoids the busy roads that go through the towns?
Some time around noon we had to leave the bike path to find something to eat. Where were we, in Vipiano? I no longer remember, but the pizza we had was memorable.
Auer, where we stopped for the night, is a few kilometers off the bicycle path, away from the river at the foot of the mountains which rise steeply. From here you can see the road that leaves the Etsch Valley as it winds up the mountainside in I don’t know how many switchbacks.
Once upon a time, I think it must have been about 100 years ago, at any rate a long time ago – but in this lifetime – I cycled up to the Passo Rolle from here. I can no longer imagine cycling up the road I see leading away from the valley. Maybe it was 200 years ago. But I know I did it.
To Passo Rolle from Auer it’s 60 kilometers and a total of 2,770 vertical meters – and the gears on my bike weren’t as good as the gears I have now. In those days I didn’t have the means to calculate daily distances and altitude gained. But now I do and I know that I could never ride up that road today and can hardly believe that I ever did it. Or as the saying goes: “The older I get, the better I used to be.”