Now into mjy fifth week on the road since leaving home on Easter Day, this was one amazing day's ride. 64 miles heading east from Salzburg through Austrian pre-Alpine landscape for which the word idyllic was invented.
Stayed last night with Dart Centre friend and colleague Susan Moeller at the Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, home since 1947 of the Salzburg Seminars, but better known to most as the setting for the final scenes of The Sound of Music.
Talk about beautiful. The two shots above give just a hint at how lovely it was this morning, with the sun out at last and the sky blue, and snow stilll lying on the Unterberg mountain across the lake.
Then, up a long winding former rail track (the nicest cycling there is) from Salzburg east to the Mondsee and Attersee lakes, where we once had a fabulously picturesque holiday with the boys in 1982 (I think) when Jutta and I were living in Vienna.
With the sun out, the cyclists have also emerged. For weeks, I've been almost the only serious rider on the road. Today, Sunday, the routes were full of them. As a German farmer comnmented as I spun past the other day – Ah, the cyclists are out. It really must be spring.
Today was a chance to muse on how efficient the human body can become at doing this kind of work as long as it's appropriately fed, watered and rested.
It hasn't taken long to begin to feel very fit indeed, and heading up hills is surprisingly little trouble, if more slowly and in a lower gear (with the Rohloff hub Raven can climb almost vertically) than would have the case 20 or 30 years ago.
The left knee tendon which was so sore before setting off has been no trouble at all, to my surprise, and the keyhole surgery at Cheltenham General last December to clean up a tear on the right knee meniscus has done what the surgeon said it would. Sorted. Amazing how well these interventions can now work.
Left Achilles tendon still a bit sore – but maybe that's also got to do with banging the damn thing again and and again, until I realised what was happenig, with the left pedal. One is not as robust as one was….
Food tastes unebelievable. Bread, tomatoes, cheese and cucumber for lunch – heavenly. And as for a Greek salad at supper or sickly sweet Palatschinken for afters … Gorgeous.
And yes, there have been, briefly, bilsters in Interesting Places. All well cured by now, thanks especially to some slidey cream daughter Katharine gave me for Christmas. Too much detail, I think.
My saddle – I will take a picture tomorrow – is now exquisitly supple and smooth. Caressed and worn into shape over more than 1400 miles by determined bum bones.
The days settle into a kind of working routine. It's good to do 30 miles before lunch, and then to try not to even THINK about looking for a place to put the tent up until there are 65 or so miles on the daily clock.
Tonight, found a soft grassy spot in Schwanenstadt (av speed 10.2mph, 6:17 hours in the saddle) outside the house of a local woman who recognised the shell on my handlebar bag. and who turns out to have done the Camino de Santiago, twice.
Schwanenstadt is on the Austrian segment of the Camino, and her brother next door has just invited me in for a beer, so must rush…
Reach the Danube tomorrow. Flat. Lovely.
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