About Gradients, Floods and Ulrich Seidel

On Friday, we (Marie-Luise, Samuel and me) started from Landshut down the river Isar. Cycling down a river is rather nice. First of all it can be really beautiful, downhill (most of the time) and last but not least you always find your way. No more searching for the right directions because it is clear.

On this day, we made 130km from Landshut to Passau more or less on flat roads with one small exception. The Youth Hostel in Passau is located in the castle on top of the hill and the road leading to it has a 22% gradient. A real killer after a long day of cycling.

After this challenge, we had a great last evening with Marie-Luise. She was leaving the following day to Zürich where she was preparing to go to Nairobi for 9 months for her studies in development aid.

The good thing about the steep road to the Youth Hostel: You get a good thrill in the morning when you want to leave. On this day we cycled along the Donau to Linz through the famous “Donau-Schlinge”. It is probably the nicest place to cycle along the Donau especially this time of the year with just a few hard core cyclists and local Sunday riders around. It must be very crowded in summer. Unfortunately we had head wind which was quite annoying. To keep moral and stamina up, Sam and me startet drafting in each others slip stream. Like this we could keep our speed reasonable and had a good time.

In Linz we could sleep at Maria’s place whom we contacted via the Warm Showers online community. A very strong woman who fights for the rights of cyclist around the town of Linz and is organising the monthly “critical mass”. After the next critical mass event, they are going to watch Ovarian Psycos, a documentary movie on women in a LA bicycle gang.

From Linz we started early again down the Donau. This stage was a very interesting one. Along the way, we saw the marks of floods from 2002 and 2013 in this area. Whole communities like Mitterkirchen were surrounded by dams that were build after the 2002 flood and saved them in the 2013 floods. Other communities were hit twice and signs of destruction and renovation are still visible. Abandoned malls and missing paths. It is crazy to think about the water touching the ceiling while eating your Gulasch in a nice lokal restaurant.

We ended up in Melk, a very wealthy looking community. The most prominent building in Melk is the massiv abbey. Samuel read about the history of Melk and told me a lot of things but really only one fact stuck with me. The Benedictines have been living in Melk for about 1000 years nonstop. No wonder they had time to build such a colossal monument.

Samuel and I couldn’t stand the head wind along the Donau anymore. We decided with the help of the general weather situation that we could avoid the wind by going straight East over the hills to Vienna. The ride wasn't anything interesting but the lunch was. For whatever reason, we ended up in a ordinary road side restaurant in Untern-Oberndorf. Only after entering a smoky, dimly lit saloon, we realised that this place wasn’t a gourmet temple. What did we expect? We ate some deep fried undefined vegetables and meat with a leaf of salad, a piece of tomato and a slice of cucumber. It tasted horrible but it was not the worst part. It was the vibe of the place and the people sitting in there. Mostly elderly couples with a very low conversational potential energy. Over the whole lunch time, we felt like bystanders in a Ulrich Seidel movie. If you haven’t heard of Ulrich Seidel you should watch one of his movies - maybe then you can understand how we felt.

After rolling down the last 30 km through the Wienerwald and along the Wienerflussanlage, we stayed at a nice place close to the city center of Vienna. Klara hosted us in her old shared flat with extremely high ceilings and uncountable posters and stickers on the walls. She took us out to her favourite place which is a cooperative restaurant very much connected to the bike culture in Vienna.