I just spent an hour and a half writing about today’s ride, but when I came down to the lobby to post it, deleted it by mistake. Am too tired to recreate, will try to do it tomorrow. For now, here are some photos of the day.
UPDATE 7/9/12: We woke up to a wonderful sunrise over the Danube valley. It seemed as if we were above the clouds. As I kept watching, the scene would change every few minutes, with the rising sun and the cloud cover competing for control. This is a morning view I will long remember. (see photos).
Leaving Maria Taferl consisted of a lot of braking and very little peddling. In other words, my kind of ride. Once down to river level we had an uneventful ride along the left side of the Danube, until we hit our first snag. It seems that the bridge at the hydroelectric power stations was closed. So we had to travel a little bit longer distance and climb a lot more hills. We had to cross because we were heading to the Abbey at Melk. For some reason, when they decide to built an Abbey over here, they put it on the highest ground they can find. But the climb was well worth the experience (see photos).
After the Abbey, we went back across the Danube and spent the rest of the day on the left side of the river. I do regret leaving town without the t-shirt that I wanted, but it seems no one thought to make a shirt that reads, “Got Melk?”
On a side note, my parents asked why we keep crossing the river. It’s a very good question. Sometimes it is to see something special, like the Melk Abbey. Other times it is for safety reasons, like described on day 2. And then there are times when one side is considered. Ore beautiful than the other.
To me, the two most interesting parts of the ride was that we passed through many small towns, and we got into Austrian wine county. In the towns it wasn’t unusual to see houses that were first built in the 14th through 18th century. When I would see one of these, I thought to myself that if this was in the United States, we would put a wall around it and charge admission, like at colonial Williamsburg. Then I realized that although these building seemed very special to me, every little town had some. I guess it’s not that uncommon in Austria to live in a 600 year old house. Of course, they have added modern conveniences such as solar panels and satellite dishes (see photos).
We saw miles and miles of grapes and many were terraced up the side of the hills(see photo). They also had a lot of apricot groves, which they use to turn out apricot-flavored schnapps and brandies, among other uses.
Bob A suffered the second mishap of the day when he broke his bike pedal and had to travel the last 20 kilometers with only one pedal. Other members would assist him up some of the hills.
All this beauty was not without cost, as we climbed the most hills of the ride on this day. By the times we got into Enns, many of us were beat and just wanted dinner and bed. That’s when we found out that most businesses, even restaurants, are not open on Sundays. Four of us ended up getting dinner at a Shell station convenience store.