Vienna looms - Jimmy Carter thinks I'm a sinner - CycleBlaze

April 29, 2007

Vienna looms

A lot of people rave about this Danube bike path. I'm afraid I'm not among them. Don't get me wrong: it is almost all attractive, it is often beautiful and for the first hours out of Passau it was simply stunning.

But... It is dreadfully flat and there are long stretches, sometimes hours, with little to do but sit and pedal. You could spend your day in cafes and bars along the route, of course, but then you'd be on a cafe-and-bar holiday and it would be those that you were enjoying rather than the riding. And when you ride, it is like being drawn by a string around the bends and along the straight lines that take you along yet another kilometre of river.

I'll say again that it is rarely less than pretty and now and then amazing. But it is heavy on the saddle and draining of the brain as you have yet another route-making decision taken from you. Maybe what makes this worse

At its best, the Danube trail is paradise on wheels. But flat roads make it bum-numbing and following arrows makes you yearn to think for yourself once more.
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is that in Austria, compared to the German, Swiss and French sections, the ride rarely takes you through a village or town. In the way you do when you see life from the slow lane of a bicycle tour, we have some light grasp of how daily life works in those parts of Germany and Switzerland we have seen; in Austria, this isn't at all the case because the path is in much better state and therefore there are a lot more cyclists of all abilities and therefore the Danube has become a corridor of the tourist trade. I could work out how many guesthouses there are per kilometre that catch your eye with "Hallo Radler!" signs and how many bars describe themselves as "bike stations" but I couldn't begin to tell you anything about Austria and the Austrians.

Tomorrow, though, we will be in Vienna. Vienna will be different from anywhere else in Austria, we're promised. We'll have a day off there, maybe two, and drink coffee and, well, enjoy Vienna. After that we'll come to a decision about how to continue the journey, whether to follow the path on to Bratislava and country number five or find a cross-country route that doesn't soar into the clouds, a factor which has kept us nailed to the Danube all through Austria.

I hope this doesn't sound like moaning. It's not. The only thing I could grumble about is that I have now had 28 consecutive days of headwind, but of the ride itself I have nothing to moan about: it's great! A bit too flat and limiting, but great!

"I have now had 28 consecutive days of headwind..." - clearly, I have an angel of death looking over me
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Time is on my side...
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