Thursday, 30 August 2007

Thursday 23rd August (Day 37): Ybbs to Wilhering (94km)

After a very quiet night, with deep, uninterrupted sleep, we set off alongside the heavily wooded Donau. It felt as though around every corner there was a castle turret or schloss perched on a high peak overlooking the river. The wind was also following us at this point, so we were as happy as. We ended up with 30kms under our belts by 10am, and 50kms by 12 noon - including a cake stop (delicious sort of marzipan crumble cake).

Gradually we headed into farmland and away from the river. Loads of apple, prear, and plum trees as well as elderberry bushes in abundance. The ubiquitous fields of sweetcorn were broken up into small, odd-shaped fields surrounded by small copses or hedged with poplars. Idyllic - except for the now head winds which meant pedalling was rather hard work.

We crossed the bridge at Mauthausen (bad idea as I will explain in a moment) instead of taking the ycle bridge at Abwinden. The bridge across to Mauthausen is vusy, has a very narrow path (not god with wide luggage), and has steps down to the cycle path. Luckily we didn't spot the steps, and hurtled down onto the busy road. We then spotted the cycle path through a hedge and decided on some cross-country adventure which meant bashing through some trees and a ditch with our bikes. All in all, easier than getting our bikes down the steps. Our cockiness lessened as we set off through uninspiring new villages and towns, often alongside or on busy roads. Worse was to come though, as, when we popped out of dullsville, we were faced with something resembling Middle Earth (also known as Linz). If you happen to be over this way, avoid it like the plague. Huge chimney stacks deposit acrid smoke into the air making your eyes sting and your throat feel scoured. Other cyclists we met complained of headaches and respiratory problems. Huge piles of ore, coal, and gravel and pushed around, while machinery calnks and hisses. We almost expected Orcs to come bursting out to push us off the bikes! We quickly decided to jetison the plan to camp near Linz, and pushed on 25km toWilhering.

Alas, the 25km were mostly on a cycle path beside a busy main road. But we just pushed on, and were rewarded with a lovely ferry ride, and a peaceful little campsite for the night.

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