Wednesday 15th August
Passau to Linz: 5 hours 49 minutes, 118km
“The next morning, I had a closer look at my bike. It turns out the bolt attaching the rack to the right hand side of the bicycle frame had snapped. I had a spare bolt fortunately, but the problem was that a little piece of the old bolt remained embedded in the frame and needed to be drilled out. Naturally, it was a public holiday, and no bike shops would be open. I sat on the floor, calmly considering my options. As I stared at my bike, the solution jumped out at me. I’ll spare you the details, but it involved sliding the rack further back and fixing it to two further holes that exist on the frame. Being further back, it puts a bit more strain on the rack but should hold until I get to Vienna, where I can drill out the old bolt and slide it forward again. Anyway, feeling quite proud of myself for solving the problem I set off again.
Passau is known as the city of 3 rivers. These rivers all of different colours join together at one point, the lines
I walked my bike over cobblestones (afraid of putting undue pressure on my temporary fix) to the point where one can observe the rivers merge. I must admit it was fairly disappointing. While visible, the divide between the rivers was very faint and not quite as impressive as the aerial picture displayed on the board next to me.
I crossed into Austria. The exact point I will never know. I just started noticing all the boats on the Danube were flying Austrian flags and assumed I had crossed the border. They certainly got the nice part of the river. The mixing that had occurred in Passau had turned it from a muddy brown to a light teal colour. The bicycle path was well paved and hugged the river all the way along. Steeped by hills on either side, there is no room for deviation and all cyclists are forced to follow every bend in the river.
At one point I hit a dirt hiking type track. Thinking back to the time I spent pushing my bike up the side of a mountain in Germany and also worried about the rear rack, I decided to head back where I found you are required to take a ferry across.
70km in and everything was going well, until the pain came surging back into my knee. I raised the seat a little more and the pain quietened down again.
Having no plans means one can ride as far and until as late as one wants. I arrived at Linz and decided to push on until I came to a campsite. 20km later I found one. Based around a lake it seemed like a chaotic family get away, with loud boats pulling skiers and children shouting on swings. Perhaps it was the sheer noisiness of the place or maybe it was the stories Magnus and Ben had told me that inspired me to leave and look for a place to wild camp.
I found a small overgrown, grassy track that lead off one of the minor roads and made sure no one saw me as I entered. About half way down the path, I heard a scooter stop right at the point where I had entered. I was still visible but managed to duck into an alcove in the side of the path before the man on the scooter could see me. I watched through the leaves as he sat on his bike at the path entrance, smoking a cigarette. I couldn’t move further down the path as he would see me, so I just decided to wait it out. More voices and my smoking watchman was joined by a couple of friends. To my annoyance they had decided to stay at the entrance to chat. I was stuck, I had no choice but to continue waiting. All the while the sun was setting and I did not even know whether it was suitable for camping further down the path. Eventually I heard the roar of the scooter engine and the friends part ways. I continued down the path (which became quite muddy) and found what looked to be flattish land to the one side. I set up my tent virtually in the dark and settled in. Listening to the forest noises and the occasional train go by in the distant, I fell asleep.”