Arts and Entertainment

Traveler’s Journal: All over Austria

Bike touring on the Danube.  - Photo by Chet Rideout
Bike touring on the Danube.
— image credit: Photo by Chet Rideout

by Chet Rideout

For the Sequim Gazette

In September of 2013, my wife Lynn and I embarked on a great adventure in Austria. Boxing our bikes and hauling full panniers onto the airplane, we flew from Seattle to Munich, Germany.

Once we unboxed and assembled the bikes we took a train to Innsbruck to join our biking friend from Italy, Piero Tassinari. I’ve bike toured thousands of miles with Piero, but this trip (meant to be my 70th birthday adventure) was quite different than earlier expeditions. Instead of camping, we planned to stay at bed and breakfasts (gasthaus and privat zimmers), and as Lynn was joining us we planned to cover less ground (only 25 miles/day rather than our normal 50).

Also, we were riding this flat route along the shores of rivers for a change, rather than aggressive mountain riding. We were all using recumbent bikes, which are much more comfortable on a bike tour, and we used panniers rather than trailers to haul our stuff. After visiting the old part of Innsbruck we crossed a covered bridge and headed east on the trail along the river, the Innradweg. This is a well-traveled route, but mostly in summer months; just as camping drops off after Labor Day, the tourists are fewer in number during September. As a result we did not have any problem finding lodging without reservations, but the weather was variable and we had cool rainy days during a full week of our three-week trip.

Our travels took us to Schwaz and its old town and 15th century church, the amazing Esterhammer Gasthaus in Jenbach, spectacular Kufstein with its magnificent fortress and Rosenheim in Bavaria. From there we left the river for a while, and the trail, which was sandy gravel, became challenging because of the hilly terrain and rather continuous rain. Passau was delightful and one of the cities we enjoyed the most. Lynn and I visited St. Steven’s Cathedral (originally constructed in 997 A.D.) to hear a recital performed on the largest organ in the world.

From there we rode along the Danube, on a first-rate paved trail. Our highlights on the way to Vienna included the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, the beautiful city of Linz, Melk and its amazing Benedictine Abbey, and the Wachau Valley with its orderly vineyards, castle ruins and Krems wine.

Along the south bank of the Danube we rolled into Vienna, hunting down the bed and breakfast where we would spend two nights. Piero and I joined a bicycle tour of Vienna with other English-speaking tourists, one of the highlights of the trip.

The Danube bike tour, ridden each year by 300,000 cycle tourists, is perhaps the most famous part of the EuroVelo bike routes, which includes 14 trails and a total of almost 43,000 miles crisscrossing Europe. We were thrilled to have this chance to roll along the shores of these two spectacular rivers.

Saying our goodbyes to Piero at the Vienna station, Lynn and I boarded a train to Munich, and eventually flew on the big bird back to the states.

About the presenter:

Chet Rideout: “My earliest travels consisted of a year spent with my family in India and in my teens I also did some camping with my dad and friends. My first love in college was biology and for my doctoral study I radio-tracked mountain goats in Montana. During my teaching, both high school and college, I always found time for backpacking, downhill skiing and ski touring and canoeing of lakes and rivers in Colorado with my wife, kids and friends. During these activities I also spent a lot of time with another hobby: nature photography.

“In the late 1980s I discovered recumbent bikes and bike toured in the U.S., France, Canada and Italy. After retirement I also took up kayak touring, exploring the San Juans, Sechelt Inlet and the Broken Island Group. My Austrian adventure is my most recent bicycle tour but I’m hoping there will be many more!”

About the presentation:

Traveler’s Journal is a presentation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition. All of the money raised is used to buy project supplies and food for volunteers working on Olympic Discovery Trail projects.

This presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, in the Sequim High School cafeteria, 601 N. Sequim Ave. (Note the change of venue). The cafeteria benches are hard and people should bring their own cushions.

Suggested donation is $5 for adults. Attendees 18 and younger are free.

One selected photo enlargement will be given away each week as a door prize. Creative Framing is donating the matting and shrink-wrapping of the door prize.

This is the last presentation in the 2014 Traveler’s Journal series. Now it’s your turn. Blow the dust off your Baedeker, check the dates on your passport, resole those boots and hit the road. Take notes and lots of pictures and come back refreshed and prepared to share your adventures with us all in 2015 …

Call Dave Shreffler at 683-1734 for more information.


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