The forecast rain came as something of a relief after days of autumn sun. It’s possible to have too much honey, after all. But all this Scotch mist was making me a little homesick, as was the headline in the morning paper about our government back home: Britisches Chaos.
We had a good-humoured conversation about the UK’s parlous state with our genial guesthouse hosts. They tried to convince us that their own government was just as ideologically fixated, self-serving, incompetent, corrupt, and stark staring bonkers. They didn’t succeed. It was like an Austrian cyclist complaining about potholes.
Anyway, a short day meant a leisurely breakfast, waiting for the drizzle to abate. But like a Tory cabinet, it somehow just kept on getting worse. So we set off. Nigel bought a couple of new innertubes from Schwanenstadt’s bike shop, whose owner showed a polite indifference to our End to End.
More quiet lanes, to the accompaniment of the rain’s gentle hiss and the occasional swish of car tyres in puddles. The R4 guided us unfussily through villages and farmland, up and down gentle ups and downs, but mostly with a flat or subtly downhill trend. Churches of a Mozartian elegance and balance, surprisingly grand for a small village. Wooden storks lined up in a rural garden to celebrate a new family arrival. Coffee and cake at a trendy riverside cafe, smiling and vibrant with Saturday strollers and e-bikers.
We got to the outskirts of Linz by quarter past noon, way too early to check in. So we invested an hour and a half in a McDonald’s in a gritty, marginal part of town: wifi, toilets and dry warmth for a €1.20 burger.
Now thawed out and slightly less sodden than our pre-burger state, we rejoined the waterside bike path to Linz itself. Our hotel was a hip, young, lively, colourful place of chirpy good humour, much like me, except for the bit about being hip, young, lively and colourful.
In due course we took the long walk into the historic centre’s squares and dark Amadeus-like cobbled alleys in which you expected to meet F Murray Abraham as Salieri spooking Mozart in a mask and cloak. I calmed my nerves with a couple of Belgian dubbels in a splendid little cellar bar, and back in the hotel we watched YouTube videos about urbanism and cycle infra on the room’s big screen.
I told you the hotel was trendy. There was a tablet and an Alexa in our room.
– Alexa, play a video showing some examples of good British cycle paths.
– I’m sorry, I can’t find any examples of good British cycle paths.
.– Alexa, tell me a joke then.
– Showing videos of cycle facilities in York.
Miles today: 40
Miles since Bangs: 382