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Cycling down the Danube

After about an hour of cycling I began to wonder why I decided to put myself in this situation.

Why did I think spending 14 days cycling was going to be fun?

From Zürich I took the train to Passau, where I collected my bike, so I’m ready to head off in the morning.

About an hour into the ride, my body starts reminding me that I haven’t been on a bike since December.

My neck is stiff, my knees creak and most of all, my bum is sore!

The Danube route is dead flat, so much so it makes for constant peddling, which is a bit exhausting when you don’t have any bike fitness. I’d like a little hill right now, so I can get a rest on the way down.

As I contemplate what I had committed myself to, the kilometers slipped by and a couple of hours later I arrived in Schlögen, my first stop.

Aside from it being stinking hot, it was a relatively easy ride. Schlögen is a tiny hamlet where the one and only hotel dominates the landscape.

The days quickly become routine; cycle, shower, eat and sleep.

I don’t think I had a day under 35 degrees, so I would be on my bike by 8am to avoid the heat.

This meant I usually arrived at my destination before the designated check-in time (2-3 pm). You would think given the number of people cycling, an activity most people do early, the hotels would be ready for this?

Hot, sweaty and tired I resorted to finding a comfy spot to have a cool drink and put my feet up.

Day three was the toughest day to get back on my bike. The day before had been a long, hot 68km and I was facing another 60. My muscles ached and my bum didn’t want to get back on that seat!

I actually looked up the train schedule from Linz to Grein…but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Climbing back on, I took it easy, stopping every 20km or so. From Linz onwards the route passes through towns and villages more frequently. I found this made the ride more interesting and the kilometers pass unnoticed.

Traveling solo, I often fell victim to hotels putting me in a tiny single-bed room, in an out-of-the-way corner of the hotel.

The hotel in Grein is 5km out of town, a lovely forest setting and promotes itself as a resort-style spa hotel.

Once again, I find my room is in an out-of-the-way corner of the building. I open my door to a small single bed (of course), overlooking the roof between two buildings, I didn’t even get a view of the car park!

The heat reflecting off the roof made the room temperature feel 40 degrees plus. After a brief discussion I was given another room.

The days passed quickly and everyday got a little easier.  It’s certainly a great way to get your fitness up and if I did it again I would add a few extra nights to enjoy towns like Linz and the Wachau wine region.

With a sense of triumph I arrived in Vienna early afternoon on my sixth day of cycling. The temperature was soaring towards 40 degrees and I was feeling hot and tired.

After a long cool shower I ventured out with intention of exploring Vienna.  The heat hit me like a brick wall, I walked about 100 meters down the street before I changed my mind.  I would be coming back to Vienna in about a weeks time; it could wait.

Stopping at a small supermarket I stocked up on snacks, headed back to my air-conditioned hotel, curled-up in bed and watched movies on Netflix.

Day 1: Passau to Schlögen 44km
Day 2: Schlögen to Linz 68km
Day 3: Linz to Grein 61km
Day 4: Grein to Emmersdorf 67km
Day 5: Emmersdorf to Traismauer 57km
Day 6: Traismauer to Vienna 75km

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