Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Biking Off More Than We Can Chew

Yes- on Monday we used the good weather to attempt a re-do of the "Von Donner Party" expedition back in late May. Mary Ann and Joss stayed (wisely) in Vienna, and the Professor headed out with Maddie, Will, and Sebi and our friend Curtis with his kids Chloe, Liam and Tomas.   

It sounded like a good idea at the time.  We started, as usual, in Melk.  While Curtis and Co. visited the mind-blowing Baroque curliqueness of the abbey, I took my kids to their favorite haunts in the village below.  We bought dried sausages and playmobile figurines.  Everybody has their own thing, that's ours in Melk.  
(Click to enlarge)
We then caught a bus to Emmersdorf and headed out on the 44-Kilometer bike ride down the Donau through the area called the Wachau.  Now, I know some of y'all like to put on the spandex and do 44 klicks before breakfast.  Cut us some slack here: We were on missionary bikes, towing our gargantuan five-year-old and his plucky side-kick, and screaming at three other kids that were swerving all over Lower Austria on their bikes (in front of cars, down riverbanks, etc).  

The Wachau is famous for its wine and its apricots.  The wine is lost on us Mormons, but we are big apricot fans.  We rode through valley after valley of orchards, stands, and amazing green landscapes.  We bought and picked apricots, and one lady just handed them out to us when we asked her for directions.  The McKids were in heaven.  
(Click to Enlarge. No, really.  Check it out)
In Spitz, we got all medieval and poked around the ruins of an old castle.  Notice that it is still early enough in the death ride that we climbed a hill and we are still smiling.  There was a spooky dark dungeon, a high tower and spectacular views of the Danube flowing by below us.  
At the next town, St. Michael, the kids poked around a church cemetery and found an old ossuary building.  Believe it or not, I took this picture through a keyhole because the windows were dirty.  You can imagine the joy that the kids had in the face of all this spookiness.  

The Danube is lined with tiny, picturesque medieval towns, and we stopped in most of them to nurse saddle sores and to find potties.  Maddie's need for a restroom led us to the Bayer Winery in this town, where we scored three big bottles of grape juice that they pressed from their own vines last year.  We sipped, swished and pronounced it "precocious, but not overbearing..with good mouth-feel, a clean finish and overtones of tar and elderberries" (Any other Mormons out there with a fascination for Karen McNeil-Fife and other wine mavens?)
Oh, my Gluties twitch with pain to see these pictures.  Gorgeous, breathtaking, and murderous if you are switching off two hulking kids in a trailer.  Will learned the sad truth about being a man and riding a bike for a long time.  It's a tough world out there, big guy.  

My question: Why do they design these little bike seats that look like cell phones?  I can't sit on that!  I asked for a big ol' grandpa seat, not one of those little black suppositories that will disappear after the first bump and have to be removed with a resounding "pop" by a trained professional.  Again: Spandex biker dudes-- you have my respect.  You must have calluses that would do the Lone Ranger proud.  
OK--Hills.  and more hills.  At this point, we realized that when we asked the rental place how long it would take us from Melk to Krems in bikes and they said "2-3 hours," they were chuckling into their little Austrian fists and saying "Oh, but vee vill come and Schkrape you off of ze road venn you finally arrive Seeex hours later!  Funny Americans viss too many damned kids!"
Forty four kilometers. Nuff said. Except for the fact that we had planned to roll back into Vienna at 7pm.  At 7pm we were still rolling through vineyards.  We made it home at 11:30 pm.  The kids were absolute troopers--heavy troopers, but oh well.  
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Lois said...

Oh my gosh, this is your funniest post yet! You should really write a book. Too hilarious.

Frau Magister said...

Sounds like it was a case of better late than never. Glad it finally worked out, for better or for worse.