May 21 – Linz to Aschach an der Danau
Flamin’ Nora, it’s still raining!
We looked out the window this morning to see grey and distinct and visible rain plonks leaving their ripples in puddles below us. Rain. Again. Another day of being wet.
We faffed about quite a bit this morning, leaving later than usual in the hopes the rain might ease up, then pedalling into the centre of Linz to find a camping store that might have gas canisters. Our Trangia stove uses metho, but the equivalent of that can be hard to find here and sometimes ridiculously expensive, (the equivalent of $14 for our last bottle). So we always try and have a little propane canister on hand too, in case we can’t get metho or we don’t want to pay that sort of money for basic ol’ methylated spirits. We found a store and managed to see a bit of Linz central in the process, which was quite nice. We also stopped by a supermarket to get a few supplies for the road and to take shelter under the shopping centre frontage, as the rain continued to fall.
By the time we fiddled about getting gas and then supplies, it was getting on for elevenses before we’d even left the city. Get a move on you pair of dawdlers! Enough procrastinating over rain…and which bread to choose today…and do I want one punnet of raspberries or two…and will I have rice cakes or dinkel cakes…and…just get on and ride in the darn rain!
We rode out on a bike path which was again beside a busy road. Not so much fun. Then out along some quieter roads until we made it into trees and the river. We passed some other cyclists and once again exchanged waves and greetings. We even passed a couple on a tandem. Hats off to them!
We saw not a bus shelter, but a train shelter and stopped for a quick elevenses, before getting a move on again. At least it wasn’t too cold. It had hit 11C, so at least we had double digits.
The rain actually stopped, which was great, but it had only stopped to let the wind have a turn with us now. It started blowing and it was a full head wind and it was hard going. The path might have been flat, but the downside was it had no shelter at all from the wind. It started as we were leaving Linz and when we had to ride over a bridge, I was swerving and fishtailing because the wind was pushing me around so much. Now that we were out on the flat beside the river it was blowing with all its might. At least the rain and wind were taking turns playing with us and not playing at the same time, which would have definitely been unpleasant and just plain unfair. We ploughed along the path, with the grey sky and the grey river surrounding us, but it was nice to be away from traffic and have some greenery around us too.
We rode along a road that had an electronic speed register sign and as we went past, it showed our speed and gave us a smile. “Let’s do that again for a snap,” I called to Steve. Around we went and Steve took a great long run up and took off to see what he could do.
We started scouting for places to have lunch, with the benches beside the path a bit wet and exposed to the elements, and we were feeling in need of some respite from such elements. Off the path we spotted a park and on further investigation, found the kiosk to be closed, but all their outside tables and chairs still available. So we took shelter under the kiosk awning, commandeered a couple of chairs to sit on, under cover and had a bite to eat looking out at the lake. The temperature dropped, I was wet and shivering and we both added a fourth layer before pedalling on.
We rode along the river in that very rude wind and then the rain decided it wanted in on the act again too, so for a while we had some rain and wind playing a power duet together. We rode through some little towns and we passed some strawberry pickers in the fields in their ponchos. It was so nice to see the fields of strawberries because at home, the strawberry fields are just acres and acres of poly tunnels, but what I saw today, were acres of strawberry plants growing in the open air. Lovely.
I also saw a very public announcement for the birth of a new baby. We’ve seen this in a few small towns in Europe and sometimes it’s blue or pink streamers or bunting decorating a house, but this one was the most elaborate I’ve seen. Stork signs, streamers, the baby’s name, Jonas, spelled out in a banner and a sign announcing the birth date, the baby’s name and weight. I think things like this just show what a strong sense of community a small place must have, that a new baby becomes a public, community celebration.
As the rain began to get heavier, we rode across the bridge into Aschach an der Donau and found the guesthouse that would be our pit stop and shelter from the rain. We are in a room within a Renaissance building that’s actually a castle dating from 1539. It also turns out, as it changed hands at different points in history, one of its former owners owned the car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a passenger when he was assassinated and the owner of the car was also present when that happened. So many connections with historic events across places we’ve been so far!
We took a short roam through the village, along the river and through the town, looking at the lovely coloured buildings and dates displayed on walls, dating from the 1400’s. It’s another small, tucked away place that we’re glad we’ve been able to discover. It’s one of the reasons we like to travel on the bikes, because we get to the smaller, out of the way places, that we wouldn’t necessarily discover if we were in a car.
So that was another day. Another day in the rain, so another short ride to get some rest from the wet and the wind. But…who’s this Nora I’m asking you to meet, you may be wondering? Well, since we are maintaining a 50% strike rate with rain, that red raincoat has earned a place on the team. On our last trip, my blue raincoat was such a permanent fixture in photos, that it became one of the team, with a name of it’s own. It was Ira, which was of course an acronym for It’s Raining Again. Well, when that raincoat became spectacularly non-waterproof after doing such hard yakka on the last trip, it was replaced with the current red one. So…meet Nora, Ira’s replacement. That red coat has already become such a regular sight in our photos, that it’s now an official member of Team Tassie, Nora too, is named for the weather it finds itself in so often. Nora has been named for Not ‘Orrible Rain Again! Also, it means I can exclaim Flamin’ Nora when I see those drops from the sky again and it’ll be yet another indication that Nora has to go into action. Although, after yesterday’s pelting of rain, Nora didn’t exactly perform at its best. I was soaked to the skin. Steve was dry as dry in his Orange Wonder, although I’d like to think he would be, since that coat cost the equivalent of a small hatchback car. Nora on the other hand, well, not so waterproof at all. Last night Steve tackled it with the tent spray, to see if that would add some better protection, but Nora is a new coat and shouldn’t be experiencing performance anxiety this early in the trip after just a few weeks at work in the wet. Not happy Kathmandu!
Last night we also finally decided on our next course for this trip and it has involved quite a significant change of plan. We were originally going to leave Linz and head straight up into the Czech Republic to Prague, then into Germany to Dresden, Berlin and up to Denmark. After speaking to Terry on the road the other day, he gave us some info about the ride from Linz to Prague that had us questioning whether to do that. Steve sat looking at maps and routes last night before declaring with a mopping of his brow, “I don’t know what to do! We can go up to Prague, or we can keep following the Danube or we can…”
“Well,” I said, “I guess you just have to decide if you’re ready to leave the river yet.”
“I’d like to stay on the rivers forever,” came the swift reply.
So after much back and forth and consulting of maps, we have decided to abandon the Prague plan and return to a plan we hatched many years ago. When we first started thinking about this trip, we talked about riding along the Danube and the Rhine, so that’s now what we’re going to do. We’ll keep following the Danube for a while, then take a turn and join up with the Rhine and ride that North. This will, of course, be a lot longer and take a lot more time, so we may have to hop on a train again at some point if it looks like we’re missing our deadline to get out of the Schengen Zone and catch our ferry to England, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
So…we will be on the rivers for a while yet, exploring the little towns and villages we pass through, rather than seeing the big major cities that we would have with our other plan. We’ll still see some of the bigger places and some cities, but not so much the drawcard “big ticket” places perhaps. We’re fine with that. We like the hidden gems, the little places that we get to on two wheels that may be unheralded or unheard of in the grand tourism scheme of things. So that’s where we’re heading now, riding the rivers, roaming some riverside towns and hopefully, some more great runs along river banks and paths. There’s more rain to come though, so that much won’t change! C’mon Nora, there’s work to be done!
Distance ridden: 37.2 km
Time in the saddle: 2 hours 51 minutes
Distance roamed: 3.8 km
Weather: chilly, rain, wind, grey, 12C