Twelve Months, Twelve Photos

January

It all started with Dad and I driving across the UK, into France, through Belgium and Germany and ending up in a snow covered Tirolean valley. Innsbruck was now home, and we celebrated with a couple of days skiing just above the city. I couldn’t think of a better way to start living in the capital of the Alps.

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Feels like summer

It’s been really hot and humid here for the last week or so. No afternoon thunderstorms to clear the air, so we’ve been stuck with warm sticky evenings too. I’ve not had a lot to do but pedal around the beautiful Tirolean countryside. Unfortunately, my new shiny camera decided to malfunction last week, thus I’m back to some grainy mobile phone photos. Luckily I got a couple good shots before it’s demise.

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Messing about in the woods

I spent a little time messing about in the woods today. I’ve been getting over my weekend cold quickly, but I still wasn’t ready to do any kind of proper ride . Instead I pedalled up to the LanserKopfl – the little forested chunk of land right on the southern edge of town – and pedalled around for an hour or so. I rode some new trails, linked together some others that I’ve ridden a lot, and generally avoided getting too out of breathe.

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The Grand Round

I went for a longer road ride the other day. After a couple of rides on the Mountain Bike, I’d been getting a bit bored with the stop start of finding new trails, post-holing through snow, and getting turned around by Thunderstorms appearing out of nowhere. It’s absolutely certain that road biking will never produce the same buzz for me that a good trail does, but riding on the road gives some different emotions that also need expressing sometimes.

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The minor problems with paradise

Beautiful places have problems. Even the most exotic of paradises suffer from their popularity in some way; in Innsbruck its the smog. Its not that bad; it’s hardly even noticeable most of the time. The problem is that Innsbruck, or the Inn valley to be precise, is one of the busiest corridors in Europe. The beautiful limestone lined valley of ski areas, mountain streams and saw-toothed peaks is also the home of the main railway from Germany to Italy, and the most direct motorway route too. There’s lots of traffic in this valley. When you’re here, living, you hardly even notice it. It passes by, on the way to somewhere else. Munich, Verona, further afield. I can ride 10 minutes from the city and ride singletrack for the next 2 hours without seeing a soul on the paths, but the cars leave their mark in the faint haze hanging over the city.

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Scharnitzer Tal

When you look at a map of Innsbruck (something I seem to spend a lot of time doing) you notice immediately the huge chain of mountains running along the northern edge of the valley. The Nordkette (literally “north chain”) is a run of peaks reaching to 2500m, almost 2000 metres (6600 feet) from the valley below. They dominate the skyline, and also the contours on the maps. I immediately noticed a valley running parallel to the Inn, but on the back side of these peaks, and have for the last 6 months pondered what is back there. I’d drawn a pretty dotted line across the map, and planned a fantastic 50 mile ride taking in a couple of smaller climbs, then the full run of the Scharnitzer valley, before cresting a saddle to bridge back to Innsbruck. What could go wrong?

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Tiroler Alpen Bike Challenge

Race time. It’s a familiar feeling; one that my body has been craving for too long. I have neglected the competitive addiction, one that must be sated for everything to seem right in the world. The internal feelings are unmistakable; restless legs, concern for every unit of energy spent, and food constantly consumed. The external environment is new though. I hadn’t organised a lift with a friend, there was no pick up time, no packing of cars, or friendly albeit nervous banter on the drive to the race. We didn’t pull up to the car park in our own clique, and go through the motions of preparation with the support and backup of close friends.

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Treading water

Sometimes its hard to work out what happened in the time between last seeing my girlfriend. I have a record of it right here on this site, and its useful to look back and think about what I actually occupied myself with whilst so much of my mental capacity was taken up with waiting. It sounds so negative to think of a life-pause, a wait in time between seeing someone you love, but treading water isn’t always bad. Such a gap between seeing Christa really honed my mind into the fact that the feelings aren’t going to go away, it’s not something that will be over any time soon, and I better get used to the fact that life a long way from her is going to be ‘much less good’ than life with her.

Furkenpass from Bruneck, Italy (8)

The last two weeks have been a chaotic mix of seeing parents and catching up with my Lovely Lady, alongside some more ‘real’ chaos in terms of employment and the other things that I , as a certified member of western society, need to worry about.

Lago di Paio, Stelvio National Park, Italy (2)

I’ve learnt some important lessons in my search to be where I want, and the first of those things is that I sometimes need to do a little better at the old ‘letting people know whats going on’ game. Priority number one has been keeping family happy and up to date, but future goals will involve actually being a completely functioning human in all aspects of life, including such amazing talents as planning life more than two weeks in advance.

Lago di Paio, Stelvio National Park, Italy (11)

Here follows, in the next few posts, a fantastic series of adventures with both parents and Love, and the images of things that can only be seen if you step away from technology for a while (the irony of those photos appearing here is not lost on me!)