In the mountains between Lunz am See and Mariazell in Steirmark ("Ahrnold" country).   Half an hour after I took this picture I was climbing a long, 18% grade, standing up in my lowest gear, zig zagging back and forth across the road to lessen the steepness, when thunder pealed off the mountainside and lightning ripped a whole in the sky.   Wind, hail and water poured forth in a torrent and, being caught off guard, I was soaked to the bone.   Wake up call for Chuck Anderson!  Hello?!  How long have you been cycle touring?

This is the top of a mountain Pass, Zellerain, about 11 km west and above scenic Mariazell.  See the steam coming off the road?  That's from the above mentioned downpour.  This is another 18% grade that I had just finished climbing.  There is a small Gasthaus at the crest of the pass and I considered stopping to eat, dry out, and warm up.  But, as the sun had returned for a while, I was beginning to dry out and warm up, so I was not as concerned for my safety as I had been while getting here. 

I stopped at the top and put on extra clothes for the descent.  It was labeled as a 22% grade in spots and it was hard work keeping the brakes applied so that I didn't approach a runaway velocity.  As it turned out, I did not need extra clothes to ward off the chill, as it was hard work descending, and it was slow going.  This is not the fun way to descend a mountain pass.  Usually you make up for time lost during the long, arduous climb. 

As I got closer to Mariazell it began to rain again, a slow steady rain that lasted into the evening.  I rode through a rain soaked campground, full of rain soaked campers, looking for a suitable site . . . and then I left.  I spent the night at a very clean and comfortable, family run B&B in Mariazell (hosted by Frau Molnar), and had dinner at the Wirsthaus Brauerei where I was introduced to what I honestly believe is the best beer to ever pass over my lips, a barley and wheat beer brewed on site by the Familie Girrer.  

Wirsthausbrauerei Mariazell

These are the days I dream about.

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