Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Black Sea or Bust - Day 12 - Krems to Vienna (82km)
A sunny Sunday, with a long freewheel down from Senftenberg to Krems. With this addition to my scheduled kilometerage this makes the ride to Vienna 90 km. I take a couple of false turns leaving Krems but eventually get on track and most of the day's ride is right on the banks of the Danube. Doris is making hideous noises and eventually I work out that if I wedge a piece of wood in the right place and only use the lower gear ratios then the chain will stop trying to grind its way through the guide. Those who have worked with me on stage will understand my approach to the problem.
Pedalling relatively silently I am delighted to meet a French couple who I haven't seen for a couple of days. We stop and chat in prep-school French, later I meet a Dutch couple that I have been playing leapfrog with along the Path for several days. Apart from them the path is relatively deserted and the scenery no more than pleasant, certainly not spectacular as it was the day before. Then we get to Tulln which is famous for two things, the painter Egon Schiele was born there and in legend, in The Song of the Nibelungs, Kriemhild meets Attila. There is a museum to commemorate the former and a sculpture to illustrate the latter. It is a very literal imagining of the occasion showing a pretty medieval maiden picking up her skirts, stepping forward to meet her husband. Behind the happy couple are groups of faithful retainers. Nearly every town that I have passed through have these kitsch sculptural groups, a sweet little girl being presented with a letter by the postman, a pair of chubby peasants chasing a pig and depressingly they are all relatively new. I do stop to visit the Schiele museum which is tiny but interesting. In the first room, relating to his childhood, there is a glass case containing late nineteenth century model trains. Excellent and it turns out that Schiele came from a long line of railwaymen and if he hadn't decided to dedicate his life to painting full frontal portraits with rather too much attention to genitalia he might have ended up managing some section of the Austro-Hungarian railway system. Apart from the trains there are some very early works but also a good leaflet describing his youthful ups and downs including his short time in jail for painting under age nude girls. I am a fan and look forward to seeing more of his work in Vienna.
From Tulln to Vienna is about 40 km and after about 15 km I find that my front tyre is flat. I pump it up again and keep going for about 5 km before it needs to be pumped up. I have a slow puncture. I have two spare inner tubes with me but decide to press on with regular pumping partly because I don't want to be too late in Vienna and partly because I have never changed an inner tube in my life.
Doris and I limp into Vienna along the Danube canal which delivers us, somewhat disorientatingly, to the very centre of the city, the Ringstrasse. After twelve days cycling along a nearly deserted Danube Path in rural surroundings suddenly we are weaving past trams and trying to follow a maze of cycle tracks to the hotel. We succeed and the hotel is basic but convenient and the first question I ask the receptionist is "Is there a laundromat nearby?" Of course there is. Three streets away and if I had thought about it beforehand I would have stripped down to just my lycra shorts and got someone to take a photo of me sitting in front of the dryers like the bloke in his boxers in the old Levis (?) commercial. Sadly that fundraising opportunity for the Alzheimer's Society was missed. After an eternity of tumble drying I follow the receptionist's advice and eat at Schilling's on the corner fifty metres from the hotel. An experience to be described tomorrow. A cliffhanger at last.