Into Austria if I may

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Flag of Austria  , Upper Austria,
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 19, Tuesday July 13

It is still morning by the time I reach the small town of Cesky Herslak, where my map shows a trail continuing across the border into Austria. The town topographical map shows no such thing and I spend a while studying it determining which bearing I should head by should I need to wander through the fields. As I follow the bicycle path out of the village there is indeed a path going in the same general bearing and I follow it into Austria.

For the Austrian part of my trip I plan on following the Danube river to Vienna. I know there is a bicycle path the whole way along the river, and that the river is to the south of me, but that is all. I have no map or no inclination on how far I must go before I reach the Danube.

I pick a route based on the maps displayed in the villages. It follows a fairly major road but it isn’t far to a decent sized town where I should hopefully be able to find a good map and somewhere to exchange money for Euros.

In the town of Freistadt the information office gives me a couple good maps for free, and directs me to a bookstore where I hope to be able to buy the guide book for the Danube bicycle route. It is noon however and everywhere in the center is closed for an hour or two. I advantage take the break to make a quick tour around the old town and eat lunch before heading on to Linz. Linz is the regional capital and is right on the Danube. I have to go a little west to get there which is out of my way. I don’t mind though as it is a city so it is sure to have a bookstore with the guide book, and a hostel if I happen to require one.

The terrain has been getting more and more mountainous through the Czech Republic, and now in Austria I’m faced again with small mountains. That is small only in the scale of mountains, the climbs are still very long, in the range of at least half an hour to reach the peaks.

Part way up way one of the smaller mountains I take a break under a shade tree. The tape holding my rear tire together has worn through and the bead is starting to separate again.  I take the old tire off and put on the new one I bought in Freistadt. As I’m about to put the wheel back on I notice I can barely turn the axle by hand. The bearing nuts must have gotten inadvertently tightened through all theses flat changes. I wonder how long I’ve been bicycling with this extra resistance, at least since last night, but possibly much longer.

The lock nuts for the bearings take a 16 mm wrench, but all I have is a 15 mm wrench for the axle nuts. Just one more predicament I find myself in. I solve this problem by tightening both axle nuts against each other on one side. I then manage to loosen the bearing nut with my multitool pliers turning against the 15 mm wrench on the jammed wheel nuts.

Linz is right on the Danube river which means that it is also in quite the deep valley. That means a very long and fast ride into town, but it also means a long steep climb up to the hostel. As I check in the sweat is pouring off me and soaks the check-in sheet. My only question for the receptionist is where I will find the washroom to take a shower.

A note on the cycling so far; occasionally my hands will fall asleep while I’m riding, particularly the outer fingers on each hand. It normally isn’t a problem as I’ll simply adjust my hand position and circulation will return. However my left hand has been gradually getting rather weak. It has gotten to the point where simple things like undoing buckles and clipping my finger nails are next to impossible with my left hand. I wish I knew what the cause was so that I could correct it. Maybe I need to get one of those stress balls to give it some exercise.
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