The city-wide slosh of tourists starting to change in Vienna. The 14,000 conference geeks are being replaced with 41,000 runners and of course, there are also their families, support teams etc. for the Vienna marathon on 13/14 April. Undoubtedly the mood on the street will be a nervous, early to bed, careful diet crowd until the race then it will be a crowd of aerobically partying thin people and the night sports may be a little more robust. Weather permitting, I will have departed town by then and should be winding my way through central Austria.
Holy crap - I just heard about the Boston Marathon explosions. That is rough.
Today I took a short 150 km warm up loop down to Baden and up into the hills to see forestry operations, recreation camps, even a “Spirit Camp with a ropes course and teepees. I had been warned that the Austrio-Germanic culture loves their Native Americans. It is almost a cult produced by an early set of books by a German writer named Karl May. Of course they were totally fabricated in the Grey Owl mold but they captured the fancy and started a tradition that persists as most 12 year old German Boys want to be Winnetou or old Shatterhand characters. I see this Indian fascination and actual knowledge all over my travels here. For example:
A funny thing happened on the bike. I pulled onto a deserted, clean pavement road, gassed it up in second gear and felt the back end slide out. Instinct took over and a quick countersteer put things straight but this bike does not have the power to do that so I stopped and looked and sure enough, it was the newness of the rear tire and showed the distinctive slide marks on the side edge of the tread. Rookie mistake.
I am looking now to slowly scrub these suckers in. I also found that after 5 hours of nearly non-stop towns, traffic, stoplights, my clutch hand showed some mild tendon soreness, a new phenomenon for me.
Sometimes you see a bike and you just want to know the story behind it. This old Captain America Yamaha Tenere was just sitting there rusting and it had been there a long time. Vines growing up the spokes from last year, no scratches on the body, wedged in between non-running cars in the parking lot.
Vienna is a bit schizoid for motorcyclists. First, they are supportive, allowing us to park free anywhere so long as we don’t occupy a full car slot; 2-strokes are common and OK, and today after 4 days, I saw, rather heard, my first Harley. Clearly a different complexion to the European riders. The downside is mostly logistical in that cobblestone still pops up in towns and it is old, polished and an uncertain surface on which to ride.
The public transit system here often employs a lot of surface rail trains that share roadways with cars and bikes so edge-traps abound for two wheelers.
Finally, being energy efficient and having dwellings stacked 5 stories high throughout the city means that there are a lot of darkened city streets which is an adjustment for night riding. All of this is overwhelmingly minimized by the awareness and lack of animosity that car drivers here seem to have for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Very refreshing.
The Advrider site is a goldmine once again. Josef (Seppo) lives about 75 km west of Vienna, he is busy farming but has e-mailed me great routes and will meet me for a beer after work to show me where the really good roads reside. Local knowledge, can’t beat it.
Here he is on the left at the bar getting paid back in ADV bucks for his intel. He didn't seem to mind that I was the same age as his dad.
He also turned me on to some greatl riding roads at about 50 km distance from town and “Cold Kitchen” that is a biker destination/hangout akin to Alices restaurant or the Skyline Drive restaurant. Apparently full of “Pirates and posters” according to my intel. Can’t wait to see what drags up. I am guessing a bunch of clip-ons, rat bikes, Big GS’s, Super Teneres, and some custom scoots which seem to be a growing fad here. Incidentally, scooters make a lot of sense if one is well off the main public transit line here in towns where parking is free, gas expensive, weather moderate and distances not too great.
Off and riding now. The roads are wet, still have winter gravel in patches, snow melts across the road in the hairpins. Lets face it, it would be treacherous for fast transit sport riding. I am concentrating on being smooth and trying to get the turns perfectly executed in the upper 1/3 of what is safe. It has its own satisfactions. There is no traffic and the twisty curvy road out of Pieste has high camber tight radius turns with woodlands, rock falls and little deer stands overlooking fields, sometimes with shooting lanes over the road. That would be a rude awakening to have a 7.2 x 69 rifle roar over your helmet.
There are the usual deer warning signs and some specifically geared to motorcyclists
I can’t read the words but the message is clear.
But there are also some warning signs for Kroten? WTF? I was not sure what Kroten actually were, but with a name like that, I knew if I ran over one, I wanted to be sure it was dead. Finally the dreaded kroten was accompanied by an illustration – kroten are frogs. I stopped to look at one and it was actually a toad and indeed there were plenty of them along the river road. Well, mostly former frogs. This is the time of year kroken come out onto the road to act like more developed animals like chickens. Unfortunately, playing chicken with motor vehicles yields numerous kroten splats. Did you know that a kroken shaped like an frisbee is surprisingly slippery? I felt a distinct front tire krotensplatt slide at one point.
Home and Jet lagged now. More later as I sort pix.