Listened to the rain falling in the early hours. It wasn’t comforting or encouraging. I tried to eat a good breakfast but I felt sick, I was nervous about the trip. We cycled out to St Stephans Cathedral, it was amazing, and the organ was mind boggling. We carried on towards the bridge past beautifully painted buildings wearing our rain jackets as a little drizzle was falling. Other cyclists were suiting up by the road. I spotted a cycle store by the bridge, the guy was lovely, he straightened my front wheel and repaired Lou’s handlebars, then wished us luck.
We crossed the bridge over the Danube and cycled on the smooth, wide cycle track. We were rolling along and the rain was pouring down. Weirdly the Danube and Inn rivers were very different colours and the two sides of the river stayed different colours for miles. The overall effect was more muddy brown than blue. Joining tributaries added new dark brown colours.
We were on the German side of the river looking across to Austria, we were up against the steep rocky face of a nature reserve but all we saw were slugs and snails enjoying the rain. It was easy riding with no other cyclists for 10km.
We stopped at Erlau to change the map over. The cycling guides are very detailed, but each section is really short, so they need changing often. We cycled on to Obernzell where there was a pretty parish church with a weird Mary grotto at the back. We had coffee at a grocers to dry out and warm up.
We cycled on to Haus am Strom where there was a cyclist station at the dam where we could pee. There was a strange jiggle in the road which would be easy to miss, but we stayed on the route. We crossed into Austria over a very unimpressive rickety wooden bridge over a drainage ditch. We were overtaken by four middle aged German men and followed them through the rain. It was cold and there was a strong headwind, which combined with the rain was very wearing.
We got to the ferry crossing at Au where there were two Irish women who were also following the John Higginson guide having done the Camino. They hated him too, but still followed the route! There was no ferry so we went to the next stop, where the bloke said the next one would be an hour if it came at all. We went back to Au and waited. When the ferry came the surface was slippery and it was hard to handle a bike with panniers. We cycled on in yet more rain along narrow roads, shouting ‘Auto’ to warn each other of oncoming cars.
We pedaled grimly on through beautiful countryside getting very cold and wet. At 50km we finally spotted a roadside cafe. We left our bikes in the downpour, stripped off in the hallway then sat down. Our German chums from earlier in the day were already tucking into pasta. We ordered coffee and I drank mine with milk and sugar – horrid, but I wanted the calories. The pasta was soggy with bottled sauce and economy mild cheese. It was great.
I put on my arm warmers which I’d forgotten. They were dry, I’d forgotten how that felt. Despite the rain the scenery was beautiful and we were on a levee with no traffic around. We rolled a few miles more when I realised I was really hungry, I wanted to stop but I lost concentration as I did and fell. It hurt. Lou rushed to get the first aid kit, but I wanted her to help me get the bike off me. My bum hurt at the hip but my knee was bleeding profusely. It was full of gravel and EPO thick. It looked gross. Lou’s antiseptic wipes cleared some gravel and blood, it took a few to get the gravel and dirt out, but the blood kept coming. I painted second skin on liberally all over the top of the blood to try and stem the flow. It looked ghastly but it didn’t hurt, I just felt dizzy and sick. I got back on and cycled slowly for another km before I remembered to eat the snack I’d stopped for.
The German men from earlier stopped to see if they could help. I was fine, but noticed my sock was blood soaked. We kept going towards Ottensheim where Higginson had promised us a crypt full of skeletons and a mummified woman. The tourist office was closed, our German friends were stying here but we were pressing on to Linz, after seeing a weird grooto but no mummies.
The roads were cobbled which bobbled more blood from my knee. We met up with the Irish girls from eirlier, they laughed at our crypt mission. A group of AMerican teens stopped to gawk at my knee and offer plasters, I pointed out my ‘second skin’, and the pre-med student amongst them said I needed third and fourth skin.
The cycleway became a pavement at the side of a major road into Linz. The paving was sprayed with ads for Linz 09, a music festival. The road got busy and trams joined the traffic, making it tricky, although the hot air outlets from offices felt good. At Hauplatz we found a tourist office and Lou booked a room whilst I went to a pharmacy to stock up.
We walked through town to our hotel. Shoppers were heading home and staring at my knee. Some looked and quickly turned away, some clucked sympathetically, most just stared, one or two made vomiting noises. Lou was walking behind me and the politer folk saved their horrified faces for her. The staring was beginning to annoy me. I might have found it funny if I wasn’t sore, hungry, wet and tired.
The hotel was clean and dry, wonderfully dry. I took off my clothes and unpacked my panniers, even the clothes in their were damp. When I got in the shower I sat down to peel off the second skin and clean out the dirt. It stung but looked much better without all the dried blood. I had gummed up the drain though. The I realised I couldn’t stand, my knee and hip had seized up. I had to fall sideways onto the floor then straighten out before I could get up. Classy.
We went out for food. The Cathedral was closed for restoration, which iced my cake of self pity. Most restaurants seemed closed except all you can eat Chinese buffets which just don’t agree with me. We had Baguettes at Bug’s Bar in the main square. The waiter was lovely and spoke English, well, he said ‘Yes of course’ in answer to all questions and statement, but he brought me food and beer so I loved him.
We had a stroll about then a slice of pizza and some juice from a shop window before bed.
On to Day 2 – Linz
Back to Day 1 – Home to Passau