Wiebke Lühmanns two-week bikepacking holiday, far from computers and e-mails, with no schedules or any particular destination in mind, unintentionally morphed into a mini Gravel Grand Tour. far from computers and e-mails, with no schedules or any particular destination in mind, unintentionally morphed into a mini Gravel Grand Tour.
True to the custom of the 18th century – the golden age of the Grand Tour – the route that Wiebke chose to take with her trusty Jena started from the stunning Lake Constance in the direction of another location that Germans absolutely hold dear: the Königssee, the clear, green-water lake situated within the Berchtesgaden National Park, in Bavaria.
Five days of cycling among lakes that dot the Alpine border between Germany and Austria, along roads that highlight not only the reliability on mixed terrains but also the utmost comfort over long distances of the Wilier Jena, enabled Wiebke to easily and leisurely connect these two major tourist destinations.
To do this, in part she followed the long bike path that joins Lake Constance (or Bodensee, to the native speaker) to the Königssee, while also enjoying the panoramas of some typically gravel routes that led her, over some more challenging trails, to places like Spitzingsee: a lake nestled in the heart of the Alpine forests which, like Königssee, is a photographic paradise.
Having reached the first target towards the end of week one, just like the great travelers of the 1700s the desire to turn southwards suddenly arose, taking her through Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart but also the northern end of the Alpe-Adria cycle trail, which links Salzburg to Grado.
In Austria, this thrilling cycle trail insinuates itself among the peaks of the High Tauern mountain range.
But, once again, Wiebke’s adventurous instinct took over and could not resist the idea of crossing the border into Slovenia and head directly for its symbol – Mount Triglav – and keep it well within view while descending alongside the river Sava, which from Kranjska Gora leads to Ljubljana.
Beginning there, across green and cycling-friendly Slovenia, she finally arrived at the Gulf of Trieste and the start of the Italian itinerary. From Trieste, she pedalled on to the Grado Lagoon with the exceptional beauty of its islands illuminated by the setting sun, all made even more spectacular by the perfect naturalness that bike riding allows. Then, the journey around to Aquileia, Palmanova and Udine, which allowed her to take in the picturesque roads of Italy’s north-eastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
At the close of this fourteen-day adventure, Wiebke Lühmann renamed this travel experience a “Gravelcation”. But, if observed on a map, it’s safe to say that what started out as a bikepacking itinerary did not take long to end as a mini Gravel Grand Tour.
THE BIKE OF THIS ARTICLE
Jena Tundra: Free to choose
Jena is a new carbon gravel bike, designed to give you more freedom of choice when you go out for a ride. Jena was designed to satisfy any of your needs, whether it is performance on dirt roads and single track, or adventure, exploration, and bikepacking.
Jena is a light, reactive, and easy-to-handle bike with racing-comfort geometries, and able to adapt to the multiple uses required of a gravel bike.