#RoadsFromRome Day 6 - Timmelsjoch and Hahntennjoch

Today was as close to bike touring perfection as they come. Beautiful climbs, amazing views, and a superb start and end point to the ride.

My day started in the luxury of the Hotel Terme Merano. Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed relaxing in the Sky Spa, then a four course meal, followed by a 10 hour sleep, and a huge breakfast this morning. I started the day feeling rejuvenated and eager to ride.

Straight out from Merano I was into the ascent of Timmelsjoch. Gradual at first, it rolls up the valley floor, and then with 35 kilometres to go it begins to ramp up.

Round broad hairpins, through forested stretches, and then out onto the open slopes. The views of the snow sprinkled summit were enough to keep me looking skywards rather than staring at my stem; while the feeling of fresher legs and a full stomach kept me pedalling strong.

By the summit it was gone midday, and the sun was beating down. It lit up the winding hairpins I had just scaled, and meant even the descent from the 2509 metre height was warm.

The descent went on for quite literally hours. Steep at first, it saw me reach a butt clenching 82kph without even realising it. Then things levelled out, and a strong headwind meant I needed to pedal quite hard despite the downhill slope.

At 16:00 I was well into the valley, and had reached the town of Imst. Here started my second pass of the day - Hahntennjoch.

I needed coffee first, though. So I pulled into a beautiful little café off the the town square, and enjoyed a great Austrian long black. Sat in the shade, away from the 33 Celsius heat, I tried to pluck up the muscle for the final climb.

Hahntennjoch begins with an 18 percent ramp out of the town. That came as a shock, especially with the heat. Sweat poured off me.

Luckily within a few kilometres I was into the shade of the forest, and the setting sun was seeing the temperature drop.

The climb turned out to be one of the most incredible roads I have ever ridden on. Through deep scree slopes, and hanging to the edge of the cliff, the deserted road was a piece of heaven in the late afternoon sun.

By the summit I had some serious elevation in my legs, and they were ready to call it a day. I rolled down the twisting and turning single-track descent in the fading light.

Halfway down I spotted a potential camp, and followed the dirt track around a corner to find the perfect flat area of grass on top of a road tunnel, overlooking the mountains.

I set up camp and watched the sun set over the mountains while eating dinner. What a beautiful day.

Catch up with the day's photos on Instagram: @tim_wiggins1


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