After the disastrous day we had yesterday we treated ourselves to a luxurious lie in until 7am this morning. I had to shoot off back to Linz to get my wonky wheel fixed whilst Zoltan took the time to chill a bit and chat with an Australian family who had been cycling for nine months with four kids. The Father was carrying three kids and packs weighing over 150kg, putting our own trip into perspective. Respect!
Today we joined up with the Romantische Strasse, a cycle path linking picturesque towns along the Danube. The combination of the beautiful ride, the almost flat terrain and spurred on by the previous days failures, we cycled hard today. However, as the day wore on, I have to admit I began to wish we had some time to just sit, relax and join the people drinking cold beer in the little towns on the banks of the Danube.
Getting into Krems late, with a fantastic sunset at our backs, we ate dinner out of a can and went to bed early.
Wednesday 24th July
Krems – Mosonmagyaróvár: Distance: 175km
This was our penultimate day and I was praying for an easy ride, hoping that my dodgy wheel would hold up. I had begun to feel that I was letting the side down by this point. Although I have to say that Zoltan has dealt with the setbacks with a lot of patience. So we both could have done with a simple day today. Of course this was impossible...
Leaving from Krems, determined to make a dent in the remaining 350km, we followed the Danube for a little while, until cutting off onto main roads. About 20km out of Vienna my wheel gave up again!!! Cycling 10km out of our way to 3 different bike shops, we eventually found Capo bikes in the centre of Vienna where we had my wheel completely rebuilt. This took time and by the time we were ready to go it was well past 4pm. We’ve figured out the total cost of the wheel is around 150 euros for the trip. An expense that I could have done without!
Another lesson learned - be completely sure about your bike. Sticking my two panniers, tent and my 95kg self onto what is essentially a road bike not built to take anywhere near that weight was an expensive error. Zoltans bike however had made it through the entire trip without a complaint, jammy bugger...
Breaking away from the Danube cycle path again, we cycled hard. By this point I was starting to struggle with Zoltans blistering pace. However we had booked a room in a Pension which gave us something to aim for and, with renewed energy we pushed into Slovakia, cycling briefly through the suburbs of Bratislava and on into Hungary.
Our experience of Slovakia basically amounts to Zoltan nearly getting hit by a car and then nearly hitting someone stood on the side of the road. We cycled into the night along the main roads, which turned out to be a little bit hairy, with us forming a convoy, Zoltan flashing at the front and me behind. We arrived at the Hungarian border with enough time to hop off our bikes to take a quick picture and then on to Mosonmagyaróvár (I still can’t say this).
Here we slept in our first bed for 5 days, which was the most amazing feeling.
One thing we have come to realise throughout the whole trip is how much we appreciate the small comforts after a hard day in the saddle. Even the prospect of shower at the end of the day is enough to push you on through the hard parts.