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73km Vojka to Petronell-Carnuntum

Posted July 19th, 2007

Bikes at sunsetAs the song goes, “mama said there’d be days like this”. Today we hit bottom. Continuous days of intense heat have worn us down, to the point where this evening as we were cycling the last few kilometers to a campsite, both of us felt like we wanted to end the trip. It was past 6pm but the sun was still beating down on our heads. We could have brewed tea in our water bottles, they were so warm. We were on a busy road with trucks and cars flying by too close, waves of heat were coming off the pavement and our efforts to rest in the afternoon meant we were cycling late and hungry. For a few minutes, we seriously asked ourselves what in the world we were doing on our bicycles. Of course this was just a temporary feeling — once we’d had a cold shower, rested and eaten we felt better — but those few moments of despair really showed us how much the heat was affecting us. Later on our radio we heard there is a heatwave on in central and southern Europe, causing forest fires in Greece. Here in Austria we are definitely feeling it! Our day started much better. We’d gotten up early and cruised into Bratislava well before midday. We took a few hours to see the well kept and beautiful city centre and we went out for lunch, a rare treat. After feasting on two hearty plates of perogies and dumplings (they don’t do “summer” food in this part of the world), we went to a local park to sit under the trees for a few hours. We felt good as we left Bratislava but obviously we miscalculated because even late in the afternoon the sun was too much for us and by the time we entered Austria a few kilometers later our energy was starting to fade. This wasn’t helped by the cycle path. It is very clearly marked and in great condition here, but not many trees grow along the path so it’s a bit like cycling on an airport runway. Hot! We’re now trying to recalculate how we go forward from here. We want to keep going, but equally we don’t want to cycle so badly that we feel miserable and sick of the sun at the end of the day. The obvious answer is to go much more slowly but we’ve cycled a steady 60-70km a day for the past 11 months with hardly any problems, so it’s hard to accept that maybe we have to do only half that to stay happy. Maybe just a little more ice cream consumption would help? Make ours chocolate.

86km Komárom to Vojka

Posted July 18th, 2007

A long, straight pathAnother day, another eight hours of scorching sun. Our recipe for getting through the heat includes an early start, a long lunchtime nap, stops at every cemetery to refill our bottles with cold water and wet our t-shirts and the occasional beer. With this combination we manage to stay on our bikes for quite a few kilometers, although we continue to be amazed at how much the heat builds and how long it sticks around. Even now, as the sun is setting, we still find it too warm to go to sleep. Happily we have a nice view to admire as we wait for the temperature to drop. We spent the last stretch of our day on the Danube Cycle Trail – yes, we finally found it! We crossed its path late in the afternoon and followed the paved bike path along the Danube river for about an hour before we set up camp on the canal bank. As we cycled we watched many barges making their way up and down the river, carrying their loads through huge sets of locks. Farms made up the main sights earlier in the day, along with the seemingly endless fields of sunflowers and wheat. Most of the hay has been cut now and farmers are out great numbers shaping the hay into bales.