Today we left our campsite after a lovely sleep. It was very quiet but if you read the blog for yesterday that I wrote this morning you will know we narrowly avoided a vicious storm again.
Today we rode from 10k just before Tulln, went through Vienna and we are now in a town called Orth. We are having to stop in a guest house at 75 euros for bed and breakfast as camping from Vienna all the way to Budapest does not exist really. Looking at the guide there are a few camping places but they all exist within one or two stages, so we might hit one of them if we are lucky.
The wind is blowing from the east and it is a heavy head wind. As it is blowing hot air at us it is a double whammy. It was 40 degrees again today. It is crazy hot!
Tomorrow the wind is blowing from the west so we should have a tail wind, but our day will be short as they are predicting a lot of storms tomorrow with the change in wind direction. On the plus side the temp for the next couple of days looks a bit cooler. The storms are meant to come in the afternoon so we are going to get a move on straight after breakfast.
This morning as we were riding along we saw the corn fields shake like in the UFO films when aliens are charging through the farmland after a crash landing. Then out came two deer full belt straight across the road in front of us. They continued on in full view a round a trimmed field before daring into another field of head high corn. It was a lovely sight.
Vienna looks an interesting city, we could just pass through though. If it was cooler or we had more time in the itinerary I might have had the energy for a bit of sight-seeing. But if you don’t know your way around or you have not spent enough time somewhere to get your bearings it all becomes a bit stressful and the urge to get back on the road takes over. But my uncle was correct, there is graffiti art everyway! every part of stone, concreate and glass was covered when we travelled through one area of the city.
We did 86.6km today and it was enough. We are just about 30km from Bratislava the capital of Slovakia so we will be defo crossing the border tomorrow and hopefully doing another 40-50km when over the border.
We are going to get some pizza and bring it back to our room as we think it must be the only air-conditioned bedroom in the whole of Germany and Austria. Supermarkets and banks tend to be a good place to waste some time!
The Germans do like to get up early and this has been signified in the past when the church bells have rung out at 0700. Rachael did not appreciate it this morning when I bellowed in her ear “Do you fancy some coffee?” as the church bells this morning rang out at 0600. This got the camp into its usual frenzy of a race to see who can pack up and get off camp first.
We were probably the second group off camp but we backtracked a couple of k for a bought breakfast and coffee from a bakery as we were out of supplies. The temp was back up to its normal 36-39 degrees but we still managed to get 87km done.
When we found a campsite 10km from Passau we had our usual beer before doing anything. As we had our beer we saw that all the same people from the last camp had also decided that the extra 10km to Passau was way too much in this heat and also decided to call this their home for the night.
This campsite is really nice, not new, in fact very dated, but it does have an indoor pool and there will be fresh bread and buns available at 0730 in the morning.
Tomorrow after riding about 19km we will leave Germany behind and we will be crossing the border into Austria. I am sure we will not notice a difference at first but it is a significant moment and one that is a good tick off point and motivator for the rest of the trip.
Rachael would also like you to know that we saw a super cute baby Shetland Pony.
This morning we made Regenburg and it is a really nice town/city. We got up at 0800 and had breakfast. When we were loading the bikes we could tell there was a different feeling in the air. There were clouds and it was cooler than normal at that time. When on the bikes we noticed that it was not really changing as the day progressed. We required less stops and I only had one cola today. The temp still reached 30 but there was a cooler breeze and it made a massive difference to our attitude and kilometres completed.
We stopped just briefly all day to rest the bum for lunch we saw a picnic table and made boiled egg buttys.
It makes so much difference being a little bit cooler, we felt like we could have ridden all day. The only problem we face at the moment because of the heat is we have fallen a day behind. I am hoping if the cooler temp continues we may be able to make this up.
We ended up in a city campsite in Straubing at it is lovely, so quiet and peaceful even though the centre is only a km away.
After a bit too much beer last night I was surprised to be getting up the earliest we have done so far. This was mainly because you could hear all the zips of the other tourers opening as they were all trying to set off in the relative coolness of the morning (28 degrees).
The route today had three massive climbs but they came in the afternoon when the temp was back up to the norm of 34. At the top of each climb the sweat was just dripping from our heads. I did my usual coping mechanism of litres and litres of coke every time we pass a shop.
As we had breakfast really early and we were off camp at about 0815 I did start to feel peckish at about 1100 so we stopped for pastries with the coffee I had prepared at breakfast and kept warm in our flasks. On one of the coke stops at about 1200 we decided to have lunch in the restaurant instead of stopping a bit further down the road to eat peanut butter and jam sarnies. It was a really nice resturant, we got a salad from the buffet and a plate of fries to share.
I knew our end target for the day so checked on google for campsites in the area, one that stood out was a really nice site by a lake and it had a variety of glamping pods and what they call bike towers. Just by chance Booking.com was showing one biking tower available for 54 euros a night so I pressed buy! This gave us the incentive to keep the pedals moving.
When we got to about 22km to go though we had a break and not long after you could hear the thunder. It was a very big storm as the thunder was quite long. We could see the grey clouds approaching and we thought there could be a good chance we would miss it if we just kept going. In the end we were lucky, we only felt a few drops of rain but as we progressed with the ride we could see the places we were travelling through were not as lucky.
When we got to the site we checked in and it is in a really nice place, it has bars and restaurants, crazy golf, tennis, table tennis and boat hire for the lake. As we had food and now gas we made our own tea and went for a little walk. The bike tower is cool. We have a table and benches underneath, a double bed and they have provided all the bedding. It has electricity so I can charge the GPS etc. Tomorrows route is split into two stages we do 45km then a 5km ferry ride then another 37km. A long day but nothing like the 95km we had to do today.
This was always going to be a tough day. We knew it was going to be hot, but we also knew that we had to make up a stage after going one behind on the first day having gone over the 1100m mountain from Triberg.
The terrain was getting less lumping but the shade was getting few and far between. We were on exposed field roads for the most part and you have nowhere to run when the going is getting just a little but too sweaty. On the Garmin GPS unit that I use the temp in the shade was 36 degrees but in the sun it was showing 43-46 degress and there was no let up.
We took the opportunity to wet our heads in the river when there was a banking that would let us get down down. At one location we took our tops off soaked them in the river and jumped on the bikes again before they dried out. The river was teaming with little fish, hundreds of them!
On this stretch we have seen the usual amount of Herons, but we have been introduced to large Storks wandering through fields. The other birds we have seen have been large Kites that circle overhead and cast large shadows over you like a scene from a Jurassic film.
The tourist highlight for today was the Bautopf cave system. It is massive and surfaces with what I have been calling the blue lagoon. Crazy to think that there is no base to the lagoon and it just continues in to a massive cave system.
Our host for this evening has been Lotte. I got in touch through the bike hosting site Warm Showers http://www.warmshowers.org. Basically, if you are a cycle touring, fellow cycle tourers will put you up and try to help you out as much as possible on your trip. I used the site for the first time when riding from Canada to Mexico four years ago. Lotte met us at her house and let us use the shower and get ourselves feeling human again. She made us a beautiful tea of pasta with a an amazing creamy veg sauce with scrummy bread. Her generosity has been amazing, she is showing us a shop tomorrow that will hopefully sell GAS! Lotte has been to many places on her bike and she is a huge inspiration for just getting out there and living life how you should, wild and free! Forget the holiday reps trying to sell you a package of fake adventure. See the bits the reps don’t even know about have a bit of fear as that is what makes us who we are WILD ANIMALS 🙂
Tomorrow we set off on our tour of the River Danube. As we are restricted on time we are doing half of the official 1800 mile long route. So we are doing 900 miles from the Black Forest in Germany through Austria, Slovakia then finishing in Budapest the capital of Hungary. The route goes through many beautiful villages and cities including Vienna. You can see the official website for the route here: https://www.danube-cycle-path.com/
An image of some of the gorges we will be navigating
The plan: We have our bikes and bags packed up in boxes and tomorrow we make our way to Manchester Airport. From there we fly to Stuttgart and the get a train to Triburg. Triburg is a very attractive village in the Black Forest about 12km from the start of the route.
We have about 500m of climbing to do before we reach the route. As we are starting at the source in the mountains the route generally follows a downward slope, but as we will want to get to the top of some of the gorges for views and villages there are bound to be some hills which will keep me happy 🙂
We are camping along the route with a couple of hotels in the cities even though you could if you wanted to camp in the city as well. I have also got in touch with some hosts on the cycle hospitality site WarmShowers. I used these in American and Canada and the hosts were amazing. If you are looking at doing some touring and want to try staying with a cycle hosts the website is: https://www.warmshowers.org/
We are doing the route on Bromptons. I will have a rucksack that will sit on the back rack vertically and attached at the seat. Images of this will follow once we get to Triburg and set up the bikes. I got the idea to pack this way off another cycle touring site, ‘Path Less Pedaled’ www.pathlesspedaled.com/ It is a good site full of reviews and touring tips. I have weighed the bags and the front bag is about 15kg the rucksack is 20kg and the bike is 13kg and I weigh about 75kg. So a total weight of 123kg I will need to drag up the hills. If you have seen my previous tours you will know that this is quite a lot less than what I have hauled in the past. The fully loaded tandem with trailer plus 9 year old from Spain springs to mind 🙂
An image of a Brompton set up like ours will be is below.
I have the Bromptons on a three-month hire as I wanted a long-term test to see if they were able to join the stable of bikes I have. I can say we are both very impressed with the bikes and we will be getting some of our own. As they are hire bikes they do not have the full touring spec that I will get on the ones we will buy. The ones we will get will have the -12% gearing, dynamo lights and the touring P type bar with a raw finish. Like the one below but with dynamo lights.
So we are excited by the trip and we are getting the last of the bits together. I will try and keep a daily blog update of the trip with images and hopefully some video (depends on wifi and data limits). So our boxes and bags are nearly packed.