Apparently the brief shower storm we mentioned in our last post was not enough to dispel the intense humidity we experienced the day before. We woke at our campsite just within the Austrian border to bright sunshine and ever rising temperatures. Our breakfast consisted of porridge and sausages (not at the same time), after Martin insisted we must use the food left from the meal last night.
Austria provided some perfect cycling for the first 20 miles. Mostly flat with some gentle rolling hills, we glided through the morning without much effort. After an early lunch we hit some roads twisting through some dense forest. As we rounded one such corner we saw a sign ahead for a steep down section; a 14% gradient. Given the previous terrain we had encountered in Austria we were expecting a short stretch, perhaps 200m of 14% at the most. We took the corner fast and the forest abruptly ended to open up to a fantastic vista of the longest stretch of steep, straight downhill we have seen so far…shortly followed by a large uphill of similar gradient. Will managed to break the group max speed record of the trip with 43.5 mph. The stop sign at the bottom of the down section was an unwelcome sight as we lost all the speed we had built up, making for a gruelling uphill. Nevertheless it was an awesome road to cycle through!
We made good time as we headed into Vienna. Although a bolt falling off one of my front pannier racks caused a small delay. We were looking forward to getting into the city, but Martin was not so impressed:
As we had time to spare we decided to search for a bike shop now so we could enjoy our rest day fully. The clicking sound on Martins bike needed attention. We tried 3 different shops who were all too full with repair quotas until we found the excellent `Star Bike`. The Star Wars theme on the outside meant it was already our favourite. Aided by the fact we didn’t know what anyone in the shop was saying, we somehow pushed to the front of the queue and managed to speak directly to the mechanic. He seemed very happy to take a look at Martins bike. He began his inspection by, I believe the technical word is, ‘shaking the bike around’ – magically he picked up where the problem was very quickly (the bottom bracket) and began taking parts off at top speed. Bolts, springs and brackets began flying off as Martin looked on from the side. Eventually, after searching for a misplaced tool, he gestured that the bottom bracket had no grease and this was the source of the problem. He picked up a large paintbrush with grease and slapped it on before re-assembling all the parts again. He half tightened the bottom bracket and then produced the worlds biggest wrench to ensure that nobody apart from him would ever be able to take this part off again. But at least the grease will stay in this time. As we cycled back to the hostel Martin confirmed the click had gone completely, so he did a good job!
We were somewhat cursing the pick of hostel in Vienna as the route took us up a ridiculous hill climb, made all the worse being at the end of a long day of cycling. After arriving though we decided it was worth it, it may be out of the way but the view of the city is stunning:
Whilst we were putting our bikes away we met a fellow cycle tourer, Jack. Out of his first year of uni he originally set out with a group cycling through Europe as far as Italy. His group returned to the UK but Jack decided to make the most of the summer and carry on solo. He made his way to Budapest from Italy (going through Slovenia and Croatia) and then from there to Vienna. He has a lot of gear and has been wild camping some of the nights – certainly an embodiment of doing the FE, full experience, as we’ve ever seen. He joined us for dinner at the local restaurant and we were able to exchange some cycling tips. From him about the route to Budapest and from us about the route to Prague where he plans to cycle to catch a coach he has booked.
Oh, and I almost forgot – we crashed a wedding party in the evening as well. They had a fireworks display in the 4* hotel just next to our hostel. We casually stood on the side and caught a strange fire display by a large Austrian man followed by lots of fireworks and music. All good fun!
Until next time,