My new "dashboard" with, camera holder, computer, Vertec, map holder and compass

I made an important addition to my bicycle while I was in Tulln. I added a compass mounted on the front of the front fender/rack-hoop. I've had one mounted on my handlebars before, and I've had one hanging from one of the zipper pulls on my handlebar bag. My new camera mount interfered with the former, and the latter fell off on the Blueridge Parkway a few weeks ago, so I started this tour compass-less. That was fine on the Danau Radweg, but would have been a real problem today. Fortunately I was able to buy a nice compass in Vienna yesterday and, with a little help from a broken pedal reflector someone had left by my hotel's "bike stable" and my usual mounting method, Goop, I mounted it parallel to the ground and aligned with my front wheel. I can see, just in front of my handlebar bag, as I ride. Since today was cloudy, and the roads follow the lands topography, I often ended totally confused about whoch direction I was going, and quick looks at the compass saved me for several routing mistakes!

Leaving the Donau Radweg and starting the Heldenbergweg

I headed north across the Danube from Tulln, then, instead of following the Donau Radweg east, I continued north on the Helenburgweg. I didn't know the Helenburgweg existed, but when I found it, and saw that it led to Grossweikersdorf, I followed it. Now Grossweikersdorf was not on my planned route, but it was in the right direction (nice compass...) and it was a "path" mostly on small rural roads. I know a good deal when I see one, and this was close to perfect.

Small rural road on the way to Grossweikersdorf

Todays riding should have been easy, but yesterday in Vienna and today in northern Austria, the wind was blowing out of the east at 10 to 20 mph with higher gusts. I was heading N-NE. The temperature was about 65 F and, because of the windchill and total lack of sun to warm me, I rode with my windvest on all day. When I got to CZ, it had started to rain lightly, and all of my riding in CZ today was in light to fairly heavy (thunderstorm) rain with gusty winds. An easy day became a fairly hard one.

The ride to Grossweikersdorf was pretty good with small roads and interesting villages along the way. It was quite a bit hillier than the Danau Radweg, but the wind was more of a problem than the hills.

An Image from Stettledorf with multiple Austrian Icons

There are small shrines everywhere along the roads

In Grossweikersdorf. I stopped to look at my map and a fellow came up to ask about my bike. His English wasn't as good as he thought it was, although it was far better than my German, so we had some trouble communicating, but basically he told me to go right at the next fork in the road. I did and I found myself on a continuation of the weg going to Hollabrunn. This took me back to my planned route, but it climbed over a pretty good hill in the process. I had routed to follow valleys, but using the Heldenbergweg put me one valley over from Hollabrunn. The climb was 150 meters or so and some of it was steep enough to require my lowest gear.

Climbing the hill to Hollabrunn

Descending towards Hollabrunn - note the wind and the wild poppies

I stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant in Hollabrunn, then headed out on my planned route to Laa an der Thaya. I got throughly lost in Hollabrunn, but with my computer map and my compass I was able to figure out where to go. It was hilly and windy riding from Hollabrunn to Stronsdorf, then just windy the rest of the way to Laa.

Halfway between Tulln and Laa - the first sign for Laa

A steep hill with a bad crosswind after leaving Hollabrunn!

I rode both roads and a bike path - which isn't on my mapping software - to get to Laa. Looking at the map I see that some of my route must have been circular, or the map is bad, because I remember going through Unterstinkenbrunn (what anglophone would forget that name!) and, later, riding north out of Stronsdorf which is before Unterstinkenbrunn on the route. That, plus a neat bike path that some men in Wolzeshofen told me to take, took me somewhat out of the way. Ah well, I enjoyed the ride! This part of Austria and South Moravia, is a very fertile farming area with big farm. Those fields go on for miles, with weat, corn, soybeans, and other crops farmed in alternating strips.

Fields in northern Austria

A big farm on the bike path

When I got to Laa an der Thaya, I stopped at a bike shop. My gloves are wearing out and I though this might be a good place to get a new pair. It was and it was a good place to visit with owner and a customer who was building a nice road bike with a Czech frame, Shimano shifters, fancy Mavic wheels, and Ritchey Logic for almost everything else. The shop carried lots of MTB stuff, including Thudbuster suspension posts that are made about ten miles from my home. After leaving the shop, I rode downtown and bought some snack stuff at a supermarket. When I came out from that store, it was starting to rain, so I put my camera into my waterproof messenger bag.

The customer buying the bike parts had suggested an alternate route to Mikulov, going east in Austria. However, the rain seemed to be heavier in the east, so I headed north into CZ instead. Customs was a little strange with a customs stop to check passports and a police stop to check for contraband (I assume). The CZ police made some joke about checking my bags (again, I assume since they were speaking Czech) and let me through without further problems. Both the customs fellow and the police seemed surprised at my US passport.

The rain increased as I rode north and I soon had to put on my rain gear. I stopped once at a bar to check on directions - I ended up bring my computer in and pointing at the map - and rode on increasing rain. The trip to Mikulov was about 20 mile and probably took me more than two hours because of heavy rain and wind. I think the ride would be quite pleasant in better weather, but today it was more a matter of endurance. My rain cape worked well, but riding in it high winds is hard work. The lightning was mostly to the south - where I would have been if I had taken the Austrian route - although one strike did hit a smoke stack a few hundred yards in front of me.

When I finally got to Mikulov, the rain had stopped. It was about 6:30 which meant that lots of stuff, including the tourist info place was closed for the day. I took off my rain cape and rode around town - it is a neat town - stopping when I saw a snack-shop/bar that was open. I went in and asked the lady there to help me find an ATM (bankomat) We had a hard, but good, time communicating. Then I walked my bike to the bankomat - the streets were wet cobblestone - got some money, and went back to order some expresso and a banana split. She couldn't do the banana split, so I settled for a banana drink and then got a piece of pie. While I ate, I listened to American gospel music that was playing on the stereo. It was a bit surreal, but nice.

The I asked for the WC (toilet) - that was hard too, so I finally pointed to the Czech word for toilet on my PDA. The sign on the door said WC, but my pronunciation (vee-say) wasn't good enough for her to understand. I had had that same problem at the bar where I asked for direction: it took me several tries to say Mikulov in a way they could understand.

Then I went looking for a hotel. That took three tries. I don't know if the first two didn't want to deal with a wet bicycle or if they were really full. Anyway, the second hotel helped me find a room and I am comfortably ensconced. I'm sure, by US standards, the room is inexpensive.

Mikulov is definitely a tourist place. I've heard more English here than I heard anywhere in Austria other than when I was at the dock where a Danube river tour boat was loading. There aren't as many people out and about here as there were in the towns along the Danube, but a higher percentage of them are speaking English. At the first hotel, as I walked my bike up to the door, there were two young men standing by the door. An older man walked up and addressed them in southern US English. He sounded like a Baptist preacher. After I failed to get a room there, I spoke with the young men. They were Czech, and he was a Baptist preacher from South Carolina. I think they were helping his group of tourists - they said they were here for five or six days.

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