Early morning escapades

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 21, Thursday July 15

The high winds wake me up at 5 in the morning. I get up and go for a quick barefoot walk to watch the sun rising over the Danube. When I’m all packed up and leaving the camp site the other cyclist has just gotten up. I head up into the town to try and find a good view of the large palace on the hill. There’s no unobstructed view from the opposite hill in town so I hop a small fence into an apartment complex’s small yard which has an excellent view.

As I head up the hill to get a closer look at the palace I pass a cafe which is not yet open in these very early morning hours. I plan on getting some breakfast there once it’s a more reasonable time. The palace grounds are not open yet either and I have to scale the garden walls to get in. The gardeners are about doing the early morning work but do not to seem to take notice that I’m here well before opening hours. By the time I get back to the cafe I meet yet again the other cyclist from the campground. He is just finishing breakfast and we acknowledge each other as he leaves.

The early morning wind is still strong which makes short work of the distance to the hill which the Aggstein castle ruins are on. Here however is where some serious work begins as it is a 20% grade up to the top. The greatest marked grade up to now has been only 14%. I only manage to go a few meters before I need to get off and push. Which in and of itself is no easy task when you have at least 30 kg of bicycle and gear wanting so dearly to go the other direction. Of course I could leave the bike at the bottom and walk up but then I wouldn’t get to ride down at extreme speed.

At the top there is a big rock formation above the ruins. It looks like it would be impossible to climb up without any climbing gear but the view would be amazing so I go to give a try. I have to crawl through some crevices but there are no vertical sections longer than I can reach from top to bottom.

The steep hill is a challenge for my brakes going back down. Stops need to be planned well in advance. Disk brakes would really make the most sense on a składak. The small wheels mean lower braking power and faster wheel speeds that test the capabilities of traditional brakes.

The wind has died down in the afternoon but the trail is still flat as it wanders between the river and fields of wheat, corn, and sunflowers. The myth about sunflowers following the sun certainly isn’t true here in Austria, they are all facing directly away. The sun is too hot for even them to handle.

About 30 km before Vienna there is a McDonalds and I stop to use the wifi in order to find myself a place to stay for the night. It isn’t the weekend yet, but it seems almost everywhere is booked up. Finally after a phone call I find one place that has one bed left, but then my phone battery dies. I call them back on Skype and work everything out. Now I just have a 30 km bike ride to Vienna, not a very long distance, but it is already after 7.

I peddle off at high speed, into what is an increasingly strong head wind of an approaching storm. I am rather surprised at how I am able to maintain this high speed, late in the evening of the 7th straight day of cycling.  I pause twice just long enough to devour the last of my bananas and buns.

I manage to find the hostel with little trouble, which is quite surprising as I only had a general idea of where it was and no map of Vienna. It’s a tiny little place, a converted apartment to be exact, but very appealing. I wash and then head out in search of some good food, a challenge when it is already after 10 and only the fast food joints are open in the mall. On the top floor I find a Chinese buffet, a little better. I stuff myself with way too much food and then head back to rest.
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