Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Greifenstein - Hadersfeld Climb

I didn't know it was possible, but two weeks ago I discovered a new favorite climb near Vienna. I had passed the start of the climb a hundred times before riding along the Donau bike path without ever noticing the road leading up into the woods. The valley leading up the mountain is pretty deep and heavily wooded which makes the road almost impossible to spot. I had seen the Burg Greifenstein, the old abandoned castle poking out from the trees many times and always wondered how to get there, but never ventured to find out. It wasn't until a few weeks ago when I finally got a gps device and started using Strava that I found this climb, and wow, what a climb. It's not very long, only 2.4 km, but it averages a healthy and consistent 9.3% with ramps over 11-12%. It's pretty hard to find a climb with that gradient longer than a kilometer without heading 60-70km west into the real foothills of the alps.

The climb itself starts in the small town of Greifenstein on the Donau river, a stones throw from the bikepath. To get there from the bikepath you have to cross through a small passage under the LH118 road and continue to a stop light at the base of the climb. From the light it kicks up straight away with some of the steepest sections of the climb. Compared to the lower sections of the climb up to Kahlenberg these gradients are pretty tame and its relatively easy to keep a steady tempo without going into the red. Shortly after the steeper sections you pass the road leading to the Burg Greifenstein, at this point the houses stop, you join up with a creek on your right side and the trees thicken overhead. Thanks to the thick tree coverage this climb is very sheltered from the wind. This shelter creates an incredibly peaceful ambiance as you climb along a relatively steep gradient, rounding swithbacks as you follow the canyon up the mountain, listening to the leaves ruffling in the wind above and watching the road snake ahead and out of sight. This is a relatively remote road on the fringes of the Wienerwald which means there isn't much traffic, and yet it has still been recently resurfaced with fresh tarmac (at least until about 500 meters from the top, which happens to be a good place to start lifting the pace to drop any of your buddies who have managed to hold your wheel up to this point in the climb). Of the two times I have ridden this climb, I've passed only a handful of cars.

The climb tops out in the small village of Hadersfeld, right next to their fire station. Unlike other climbs in the area, the road does not 'taper' flat, rather there is a distinct feeling the climb is over when you reach the top as it flattens off and starts downhill quickly. The road rolls along the ridge of the mountain for a few kilometers providing some spectacular views of the Wienerwald before descending an 18% road into Klosterneuburg. At some point I will have to reverse this route and tackle the 18% climb, but as I said earlier, at that gradient it can't last for more than a kilometer before it flattens out. I'm not usually a fan of those violent gradients, but some days I feel like testing my lungs.

For those of you in the area who would like to take a ride from Greifenstein to Hadersfeld in Niederösterreich (Lower Austria), here is the Strava section:

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