The theme for day 2 of Lockton Cycle to EXPO REAL is rain and climbing. At 7:30am we roll out into the rain from Bregenz. The group stays together for the first 30k, riding south from Bregenz and up, with views back over Lake Constance as we turn east.
There’s more up for the next 20k as the group climbs at its own pace up to the ski station at Grasgehren, a mix of long drags and flat sections until the final 10k or so when the road ramps up into switch backs. Luckily there’s apple strudel and custard at the top which goes a little way to reviving the group before they have to head out again - this time for a chilly, fast and wet 10k descent to the valley bottom followed by a 15k flat run.
As anyone riding in a group in heavy rain will know, the rain doesn’t just come from above, but also from the wheels in front and the tarmac below. So it is 20 very wet cyclists who tackle the final shorter climb and roll into lunch, somewhere in Germany (having started the day in Austria). They sit in blankets (Club Peloton’s finest) to warm up while tucking into enormous bowls of pasta and risotto.
It’s still raining just as hard as we head out for the afternoon. We ride alongside a lake, reminiscent of Loch Lomond, before rising up to take a cliff road hugging the side steep valley. The rain continues relentlessly but the group works hard as they head back into Austria and make their way alongside a stunning lake for a coffee stop, complete with blankets and another excellent selection of local cakes.
The final 28k of the day sees the group descending more hairpin bends as they cross the border into Germany again, taking a road along the valley bottom lined with mountains whose summits remain shrouded in cloud. Despite 277k, 4,100m of climbing and a significant amount of rainfall, there has not been a single puncture in two days: testament to the smooth, clean roads of Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
The pace on the final run in is speedy as everyone is keen to get the hotel and, before long, the group arrives in picturesque Oberammergau and a well-deserved hot shower and a beer.