After getting off the route because of lagging behind on my first full day of cycling through the Czech Republic, yesterday I determined to stay with the front of the pack - a decision that led to a grueling 4.5 mile steady uphill climb. Yes, my trip-mates took a wrong turn from the start, and nearly the entire group followed. But half the "sheep" were rescued by one member having a bike malfunction. When one of the guides came to help, he sent that group the right way, but didn't realize that 6 of us were heading up, up, up the mountain.
We realized the route was considerably harder than a "beginner" trail, but - well - I had thrown in my lot with the competitive, overachiever faction. We ended up having to retrace the entire 4.5 miles back down, which was obviously faster...but then we still had 15 miles to go for lunch - along the flat scenic river route. I did manage to get a photo of a spectacular mushroom.
As soon as we crossed the border into Germany the landscape changed from forest into neatly manicured farmland, which was so picture-perfect I felt like I was in a Playskool diorama. After lunch I was exhausted and took the so-called "van of shame." I was glad I did, because even the most fit of our group admitted the last stretch had punishingly intense hills. I would not have made it!
At this morning's pre-ride briefing, I finally asked the questions I should have asked on day one and learned how to properly read the daily cue sheet we get that explains the route. The one young couple in our group were the only ones who followed the directions correctly the previous day, and I realized that meticulous following of directions really matters.
Today was our "easy" day - biking along the Inn River along the German side from Passau, and returning along the Austrian side after crossing at Scharding. I was proud of myself for not getting lost once!
I spent the afternoon wandering through Passau. Being Saturday there was a flea market, which had the usual assortment of interesting antiques and outright junk. I felt proud that my initial beginnings of conversation with vendors led to long German explanations as to the great value of the objects I'd enquired about. While I couldn't understand what they were saying, my accent seemed to be good enough that they thought I could - that is until I admitted, "Ich verstehe nur ein bisschen Deutsch."
I also took advantage of the opportunity to ease my tired muscles with another fabulous massage, though I admit my muscles still feel weary.
Tomorrow we start the day with a barge down the Danube, and then cycle through Austria, from Schlogen to Linz - and I plan to read my cue sheet with care.