Biking along Salzach and Inn

A multi-day bike tour has been on my bucket list for a long time. Maybe my plans were too ambitious (e.g. all around Austria in 4 weeks) or I was just being a perfectionist over-planning and re-thinking everything too much. Bottom line: it never happened. This year I didn’t waste much thoughts and decided to just go for it. I found a friend and colleague to join me, which also added some extra commitment not to cop out again. Without a single kilometer of biking before that in 2016 I hit the road.
The original plan was to do the classic route from Salzburg to Grado, but this would have required some in advance planning to get reasonable priced train tickets on the way back. So we went for plan B, which turned out awesome: the 310 km long Tauernradweg from Krimml to Passau.

Day 1: Krimml – Pfarrwerfen

We took a morning train from Salzburg to Krimml on our first day and biked 111 km along the Salazch river across the whole of Pinzgau, past Bischofshofen and St. Johann to Pfarrwerfen. What struck me were the slow, but clear changes in the landscape. From vast flower-packed fields along the narrow-gauge Pinzgau railway, the mountains on each side still a bit away, the Salzach valley soon starts to get narrower after Kaprun until it only accommodates the river, a railway and the road. For cars and trains there are tubes pushed through the mountains here and there. With your bike however, you’ll have to do detours, which usually require some decent climbing. Just because you’re following a river downstream (from Krimml at 1067 to Passau at 312 m high) doesn’t mean, you don’t have to do some climbing in between. A beer (non-alcoholic) and a good meal concluded the first day. There must be something about physical exercise, which makes them taste a whole lot better than usual. Sleep was immediate, deep and very relaxing.

Day 2: Pfarrwerfen- Sankt Radegund

The next day saw us passing the Pass Lueg and experiencing the first pretty cool downhill parts of the tour. Again the landscape changes dramatically after exiting the last mountainous part of the track rolling down into Golling. We went for a refreshing swim in Kuchl, an ice-cream in Hallein and a small lunch back home in Salzburg. Then we continued through the forest along the Salzach shores to Oberndorf and further into Upper Austria past Trimelkamm, Ostermiething and Tittmoning. Every town would have been worth a visit to get a closer look, for example into the past of Austria’s rather unknown coal mining history. We were looking forward to arrive at our second stop though, so we kept pushing through.

We spent the second night in a beautiful guesthouse in Sankt Radegund, a place that literally felt like the end of the world. The short, but unexpectedly sharp climb up there pushed us to the limit once again. It was again totally worth it. The sunset sky was beautiful, but already showed first signs of rain and thunderstorms. We achieved 97 km on the second day with another 100 ahead of us.

Day 3: Sankt Radegund – Passau

The third day was the final push to Passau, the sky was grey and we were certain, that we will run into rainy weather at some point. The forecast was rather bad for the whole weekend and it seemed like it was just a matter of time before all hell broke loose around us. We had some very light drops of rain on our first day in Bischofshofen, a couple of them in Sankt Radegund, but other than that it’s been almost perfect weather.

The rain started to fall, when we arrived in Braunau. It was light and not a problem at all, but to us felt like the first signs of the inevitable storm. In another stroke of luck, it turned out completely different. An hour later the sun came out and it was the sunniest and most beautiful day of the whole trip all the way to the end. After a final rest in Schärding – the goal already in sight – the last kilometers were easy. We crossed the border with Germany into Passau and ended our trip right where the Inn and Danube rivers meet.

It felt like it would be the easiest thing in the world to add another 3-4 days and follow the Danube all the way to Vienna. We decided to keep this for another time and headed for some well-deserved beers (alcoholic ones this time) before heading home by train.