No folding now!
A special kind of bet – a special kind of cycle tour
Karin Wasner is a renowned author who writes for various publications. Here, she talks about a bet that changed her perception of cycling.
“It’s all downhill from here!” My sister’s birthday toast over a glass of bubbly is still ringing in my ears. Two bottles of wine and a lost bet later, I’m standing at the old train station in Kernhof. I’ve overconfidently announced my intention to conquer the Traisen Valley Cycle Trail, one of the most beautiful cycle trails in the Mostviertel region, on my folding bike.
There are 111 km of cycle trail between Mariazell, a place of pilgrimage, and the River Danube. I make up for my lack of physical fitness with good preparation: I cheat and only start in Kernhof, saving myself the most difficult section through the Walster and the challenging descent from Gscheid. My orange folding bike was built in 1970. Single-gear, 20 inch tyres, backpedal brakes. People make fun of me in the Radtramper bike bus from St. Pölten to Kernhof. “Look! She’s riding a kids’ bike!” shouts a child, so loud that even the bus driver smirks.
I start at the foot of the Gippel and the Göller highly motivated and delighted not to have to cycle up. I pedal red-faced through the narrow valley. Then my tender behind needs a break. As I try to send my sister a photo of me with my feet in the water, I drop my smartphone in and can no longer rely on technology, which makes the rest of the day even more enjoyable. My goal is Moti’s Beach Bar to boldy drink a Sex on the Beach in celebration of my successful stage. After a day of physical activity, my exhausted muscles are looking forward to bed, which – thanks to Moti – I find at the Gasthof Ebner. “Er, don’t you have a proper bike?” says Kurt, a teacher from Ottakring, in an attempt to be funny at breakfast. I can’t take a joke before the first coffee of the day. After a weak smile and a strong espresso the only thing still irritated is my backside and I sling it back into the saddle.
I bravely begin to pedal. For 25 km I cycle along the riverbank trails and minor roads, then it’s on past the waters of the Viehofner Seen, near St. Pölten for a long-awaited jump into the water. There’s also a reward waiting there for me: a deluxe picnic basket. I politely decline the offer of a pedalo. I’ve had enough of pedalling for the time being. At St. Pölten station I can step onto the train with pride. I’m already thinking of my next adventure: The Vienna Forest Cycle Trail. Kurt has told me all about it. I’ll take my sister with me. And a “proper bike”. Then things can finally go uphill!
Author: Karin Wasner