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Published: September 16th 2010
Und ich bin ein wiener! Having stayed in a gasthof that was effectively someone's spare room, I was on the road by 8:15am after a breakfast that included some very tasty hausgemacht marmelada. After 5 miles I was feeling great, 10 and a half hours in hand and 130 odd miles to cover, mathematically it all seemed very doable. Then I was reminded why, despite typically being able to comfortably average 18-20 miles an hour, I have never been able to make it to Manchester in a 12 hour day.
Hills (and not knowing exactly where I'm going)...
This part of the country is still a bit lumpy and while the general theme for the first 1/3 of the day was downhill, there were regular sections of 300m or so, seemingly designed to destroy what remained of my will to reach Vienna. Add to that roughly 3 hours of fairly persistant rain and all of a sudden it didn't seem quite so straight forward. I would need more than mathematics to get me there.
Setting off after lunch where I should have been having my breakfast, 85 miles remained and roughly 5.5 hours of daylight. Knowing there was
another big hill between where I was and where I ultimately wanted to be, had me feeling a bit sick as I was really beginning to start to accept failure as the most likely outcome.
Then the sun came out and I found the B17, not sure if it's possible (or even right) to express how much I love this stretch of road, but with Wien signposted from 113km out I was no longer at the mercy of my GPS. Still 4.5 hours of daylight and 8 miles the wrong side of Semmering though, which marked the top of the last proper hill I'd need to go up. As it turns out, I had very little climbing to do at all (900ft or so) as I was still at altitude from previous days. The real hill was on the other side and before I knew it I had 45 miles to go and 2.5 hours in which to do it.
It was straight, flat and with a slight tailwind which I was most grateful for. In the last 25 miles, where my left foot had decided it had had enough and served no purpose other than to keep
things looking relatively symmetrical, I had to occasionally negotiate traffic and tramtracks which were strangely welcome nuisances. Humming Beethoven's 9th as I waited at red lights I knew I'd made it, yet at the same time struggling to put it all together. Hopefully sitting on the train to Berlin, browsing through the 230 odd photos I've taken I'll have a better idea of what's just happened, or maybe I'll just sleep.
I only took 3 photos the whole day, the last of which is an awfully unclear picture of me in front of the Stephanskirche in the centre of Vienna, which I'll eventually post here. For now though, that's it. Back to real life (not before 2 days of eating myself stupid in Berlin) on Monday. A massive thankyou/merci/gracias/grazie/danke to anyone and everyone that donated and/or left messages of support, it was greatly appreciated by me and possibly even moreso by the guys at NAM.
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