Lienz - St. Candido: let’s go for a walk with the roller skis    Versione italiana

The alarm clock wakes me up at 5 o’clock sharp. I would have rather stayed in bed a little longer, the rucksack has already been packed and the roller skis are already in my car, but preparing something to eat for Virgolino, Marta, Teresa and Pallina (our cats) is something quite demanding for Alberta and myself. We leave Castello di Aviano at 6 o’clock, Valeria and Ivo, who has just run the Venice Marathon in 3:06’48’’ one week ago, are waiting for us in Sacile.

I have been dreaming about doing this experience for a long time. But for various problems we had always been obliged to delay it. Then unexpectedly Roberto calls me on Friday, November 1st and asks me to join him for this walk with the roller skis… of course I immediately cancel all my previous appointments for the next day and enthusiastically accept. As the weatherman forecast, Saturday morning in Sacile the weather seems to be nice, therefore Roberto, Alberta, Ivo and I will surely spend a beautiful day in every sense! We leave Sacile.

At this time in the morning there is no traffic at all. We reach Dobbiaco train station at 8.20. This is the place of the meeting with our friends from Vicenza, the train will leave at 9.20. Unfortunately the ticket office is closed and in the automatic tickets distributor Lienz destination is missing. Therefore we decide to move to St. Candido station and take the train from there at 9.29. We try to call Armando to tell him that the meeting point has changed but his mobile rings with no answer. Luckily entering Dobbiaco we meet Gianni in his car with Armando and Wilma. Together we move to St. Candido train station.

Wilma, Armando and Gianni are waiting for us in St. Candido and like us, they are very exited: they have given up the deserved rest of this long week end to come with us and go for a walk with the roller skis. The weather here is rather ugly, it is cold, it is very cold indeed and the rain is approaching, but our desire to do this experience is so strong that we do not even notice this…
The schedule for the day is the following: reach Lienz (by train) and go back roller skiing to St. Candido, which will be our arrival point.

The day is grey and it is rather cold, but we have enough time to buy the tickets and have a cup of hot coffee, then the train arrives on due time. During the journey, we can see the cycle path which connects Lienz to Dobbiaco and that will be our track for this marvellous experience. Then it comes the ticket collector, a funny man with these moustaches which makes him look like Franz Joseph the last emperor of the Habsburg dinasty. He greets us very politely and ask to see the ladies tickets first.

At 9.29 the train leaves the station to reach Lienz… we spend the journey talking about old stories and new ones, from the train window we can see some parts of the cycle path, on which we will soon roller skiing … wow! Thinking that I will use the roller skis to move from one place to another makes me so exited: how wonderful it would be if I could do the same where I live! I recall the faces of the people we meet when we go out with the roller skis along our usual training tracks, their expressions which hide thoughts such as: "Where the hell are these guys coming from?" And my mother who perhaps would rather close me in a prison cell!!! I go back to reality just in time to hear Gianni telling that when he announced to his wife that tomorrow he will have come with us from Lienz to Dobbiaco with the roller skis, she asked him: "Is there any cycle path around here!?"

We finally arrive to Lienz at 10.14, the day has become clearer and the sun is coming out. As soon as we get off the train we ask the directions to reach the cycle path, which is 300 meters away from the station. Everyone will use competition roller skis with 2 wheels, except for Ivo who wants to test his self-built rollerskis with inline roller wheels.

We finally arrive to Lienz, it is still cold and very wet. We get ready to start… I will use my brand new "cobra" roller skis for the first time… I hope that everything will be alright, I am really very excited. And off we go!

We start at 10.40, the first kilometres are great, with the Autumn colours which turns the landscape into a magic world. The slightly uphill track follows the Drava river direction and the sound of the water will be with us for the first 26 kilometres. The Drava river which is 720 kilometres long, goes through 5 states before flowing into Danubio, it rises and flows for the first kilometres in Italy. Some parts of the track are covered with leaves and pine needles moistened by the humidity coming from the river, making the path very slippery. I take this chance to try my best and use the closed double pulling. Every now and then the path goes downhill but there is no danger even if it is wet. We meet some cyclists who are cold after so many kilometres downhill.

Of course, since the Austrian are very precise, the 45 km long track is well paved, regular, with no holes or things like that: I immediately realise that my sticks are slipping when they touch the ground, there is not a good grip, therefore I ask Roberto to explain me why. He tells me that perhaps this problem is due to the quality of the asphalt which is consumed and wet. We are going through long parts of the track which are wet and I think that it will be a very positive experience for me, because I will have to try my best and use the straight skating technique to avoid losing control of my roller skis.

Sometimes Armando sprints and I can hardly manage to keep his pace, but after some kilometres we slow down and wait for the rest of the group. The Austrian part of the track is very well indicated: we can read the kilometric indications every 500 metres. Of course this will not happen after we cross the borderline with Italy.

After I have managed to overcome these problems, I find the right position. There is a leaden sky, it is cold and the wind makes our progression difficult: it is necessary to stay very close to the others. It takes me all my best will to be able to properly control my sticks, which otherwise would be pushed by the wind between my roller skis with disastrous results! The path which sometimes goes through the wood is covered by dead leaves and pine needles, which are a constant danger for us, because we cannot avoid them without the risk to fall… but we do not care because the holy fire of sport is burning inside of us!!

After 27 kilometres and a short descent, the valley opens up and the path is almost flat. Unfortunately a strong wind blowing against us makes our progression even more difficult. We meet some flocks which graze at the side of the path. Because of the movement of the flocks and the recent manuring of the fields, the path is now rather dirty. At least is not raining, not yet…

The track is rather flat. Every now and then it goes sharply uphill, to go back to flatness with short and easy descents: it is funny, because we can always check how many kilometres we have run just reading the kilometric indications painted on the path floor. Our group moves in close formation, watching the landscape with the snow on the mountains tops, the wood with its beautiful autumn colours which announce that the magic winter is coming once again and the cross country ski season opening is approaching!!

On our right we can see the Loacker company and the strong and cold wind which continues to blows against us, makes us feel the lack of a bar along the track where we can buy these great biscuits and a hot cup of chocolate. Just a few kilometres away from the Italian borderline the rain begins to fall, at first just few drops, then it grows persistent. The track is very dirty and none of us is wearing the protections on the roller skis…

Despite the proverbial cleanliness of the cities in Austria, sometimes the track is rather dirty and covered by cows and sheep droppings… and any of our techniques can overcome this kind of obstacle! But we do not care: I think that my "cobra" have been properly christened. Surely, landing over one of these obstacles was not very funny… but they say that if you step on it, it brings you luck, therefore you should be even luckier if you sit on it!!

The borderline is something that you cannot really see, but suddenly we realise that the kilometric indications on the path floor have disappeared and the asphalt has become disjointed: I am completely soaked and my shoes are full of water, the strong wind which continues to blow against us makes me feel very cold. Luckily St Candido is getting closer.

We are just 10 kilometres from the Italian borderline: it is getting colder and colder and the rain begins to fall, but since we have run many kilometres and we are all drenched with every kind of organic and non-organic substance, this does not bother us. On the contrary! I am sad because our adventure is coming to an end and I will have to take off my roller skis, which have already become part of my body, because now I can easily move around with them.

We enter the centre of the town in close formation and follow the directions to reach the train station, trying to avoid the deeper puddles of water the rain is forming. We meet some drivers, who seem not very surprised to see us roller skiing in the rain, soaked and with the rucksacks on our backs.

We reach St. Candido around 14.30: it is raining cats and dogs and we find ourselves looking for the train station… still roller skiing! We are astonished: for the first time since I practice this sport, I realise people are not looking at us as we were Martians, which is something that always happens when we go roller skiing in our home town. We have parked our car near the police station and even the policemen kindly ask us how our ride has gone: it is unbelievable.

We stop in front of the local police station, where one of our cars is parked: it is 14.30. A lady shows at the window of the first floor of the building and ask us if we want something to eat. She has probably taken us for policemen. Unfortunately this misunderstanding is soon clarified and our stomach remains empty. We are hoping to find a restaurant which is still opened.

I believe that this has been our last roller skis walk for this year, but we have close the season in a very good way. I envy the people who live here a lot, because they have such a beautiful and long track to ride on (why I cannot live here?). I hope I can repeat this experience very soon… maybe also stopping at Loacker company (which was some kilometres before the borderline) to taste the delicious biscuits

Before taking off her roller skis Valeria, who soon will get her degree at the university and wants to become a policewoman, takes a picture in front of the local police station, while a policeman asks her if she is a colleague.
We look for a dry and sheltered place to take off our wet clothes, we would like also to eat something, but at this time in the afternoon the restaurants are all closed. We decide to go towards Cortina and finally we manage to have some sandwiches and pizzas in Carbonin. Next stop is Morotto shop, just to bring this beautiful day to a triumphal end.

Roberto & Valeria

More pics of the way
(click on the icon)

The number:


km m.s.l.m.
  Lienz 0 673
  Sillian 32 1080
  limit of Italy-Austria 35 1113
  S. Candido 45 1175