Grossglockner

For your riding pleasure only!

It’s strange that a mountain you don’t see most of the time becomes so well known that people all over the world are familiar with its name. And by only mentioning its name you see sparkles in the eyes of car/bike aficionados. 

We admit. It wasn’t until a while ago that we too found out about this road; as soon as we arrived at the bottom tollgate we knew we were in for something special. By turn 6 we were completely in awe.

Unfortunately on that last day of August 2010 turn 15 surprised us with early snow so we rushed down to the south gate without seeing the full road. However, there was a promise that we would be back. 

It took us till 2018 to come back; this time we spent almost a week between the tollgates, becoming close friends with the 26 hairpins, and all the corners in between. And in those 5 days the Grossglockner High Alpine road managed to find its way to our hearts.

The Grossglockner road counts 36 hairpins.  That is what most people will remember, but the many ‘nameless’ corners in between have left a bigger mark on us than we could imagine. Like the blanks between the words in a book or the silence between the words. I was taught to read between the lines. Then you will understand. The Grossglockner Strasse proved to be all that. This spring there’s a lot of road works, executed with a speed that puts regular roads works to shame. Efficiency is what counts here. The toll road needs to earn its costs. No less than 7 stretches are being resurfaced this spring. Ready to welcome the big crowds of summer. Cyclist, mopeds, bikes, cars, caravans, busses, whatever, every tourist seems to be attracted to this road…

Early bird catches the bend.

The many gates at the north tollbooth tell you to be an early bird to enjoy the road to the fullest. At 6 am you’re allowed to enter. We’re at the end of May. There is not a single soul in sight. A series of long curves - not even corners - between the trees and an often cold en humid surface welcome us with a light warning. The road is long. Don’t spoil it before number 1. Now we’re really off! 2, 3 and 4 follow in fast succession. Then we accelerate with a bit more confidence. Left, left, right, left left, right right…  Souvenir shop, parking and speed trap… all possible dangers nicely grouped together and from there on the trees are less dense and the first views to the surrounding mountains get to you. Before you know it you pass 5 and 6 and even if there is no space in 6 the view from over the fence surprised us just like it did 8 years ago. Spring grass, hairpin, trees, and high alpine peaks still covered in snow.

When we reach 7 we have left the trees behind; pylons support the upcoming combination of corners so we float in the air - so to speak. The snow in the long left after 8 is reclining fast these days. We’re only early June but the last days the temperature has upped to summer levels. This brings us up to pace with fluent combinations before and after 9 with 10 following close. 10 is a favourite. Hairpin, but one of a slightly larger kind. And it’s one of the most photogenic corners on the entire road. 11 offers great views to the northern valley and from here its fast up, the 2nd left closing more then you expect so handle with care, and after that there’s a little rest, just enough time to be amazed by the view on the right. After the parking and the entrance of the museum it gets technical. The corners may seem friendlier, but making the full stretch until number 14 in a fluent line asks some practice. During the evening hours the light is amazing here. Stop and absorb the spectacle…

 

Climb!

We’re not turning of to the Edelweiss Spitze for the moment. Nor do we stop for the non-view to the Grossglockner as it’s basically hidden by another alpine top and if you get the right angle to see it there’s most likely a cloud hiding the top… For the first time we’re going downhill and the full section up to 15 should makes you smile under your helmet. The view in the first downhill right is great but short-lived as a little hill quickly blocks the view while we accelerate towards Fuscherlacke. Stop for a minute and you may catch a glimpse of Herbert and his marmots.

We’re climbing again and the early morning strong wind rolls down from the right side; it chases the clouds over the tops in front of us. After the first tunnel this becomes even more spectacular. Take the time to enjoy the play of the clouds and the thermal winds before you get to the next series of hairpins. 16/17 are beautiful from every angle and without any tourists around at this hour we accelerate into the highest tunnel only to be baffled by another amazing view on the other side.

If you ask us what is the best section of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse to ride, we would say it’s this part: from 18 to 25. Yet, we are not absolutely sure, since  it would be unjust to prefer it to the other sections… Anyway, our favourite corner is the longer right-hander down 2 corners down 18. We couldn’t stop riding up and down and this part. Anyway there’s plenty of others that we like in this section. From the right hander up to the 19 required a precise line, after which we just continued to smile. Another detail: When you come up from the south gate – upon approaching 20 – you’ll see nothing until the full skyline pops up. It’s pure wow scenery. We know, we’re different.

After the ski slopes we’re up fast to 22-25 which require again our utmost attention. We doubt if this section is better up or down… We still haven’t decided. Shortly after 26  we come across the roundabout that asks you to choose for the valley or the view of the glacier and, yes, the Gossglockner itself. The smooth sweeping road to the busy parking is a waltz, the final hairpins the icing on the cake. The force of the waterfalls, the blue of the artificial lakes, the almost melted glacier and the famous mountain top only occasionally showing its peak - a little disappointment there. Yes, riding this road also contributes to the destruction of it, or at least to the environment in which it was created.

We would like to thank the architects, the builders who created this riding road and the people that keep it in the most wonderful condition from the first of May until  autumn. Ride it. Enjoy it. Respect the road, enjoy the views, stop and stand in awe. This is surely one of Europe’s greatest riding roads!


Watch our full movie on the Grossglockner
 


Find the link to the Grossglockner road here.

www.grossglockner.at

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