Last Day on the Inn Trail
The closer we got to the Danube, the more people were saw along the trail here. When we headed out in the
morning, we quickly passed a couple groups who had beat us out this morning. One of them was a large group of middle-aged guys of varying
cycling ability. The stronger of the guys were probably faster than us, but they were riding mountain or city bikes with bigger tires than ours.
They tried to keep up with us for quite a while, lingering in our wind draft as we passed away the morning kilometers. At some point they
stopped to wait up for their friends, and not long after, we turned off the trail and took a shortcut to the east.
The shortcut was something I dreamed up when planning the trip and adding in more destinations like the Bodensee and
Liechtenstein. In order to save time on the second part of the ride, I thought we could cut straight east from around Braunau and pick up the
Danube trail around Linz. I had a bike map that showed part of the way, and I expected to make up the rest as I went. Of course, during the last
week of river trail-riding I had forgotten how difficult navigation can be out on random country roads. We did all right for a while, but it seemed
like the signs for the local bike trail were meant to take people in a loop and show them the countryside, while we simply wanted to cut across
this quiet farm country and emerge on the cycling superhighway. At one of the more lost points of the day, when I was really just going on
general intuition and solar navigation, mom looked up and pointed out a funny sign. This one easy takes the prize for the craziest sign we saw
on the whole trip. Strangely, not long afterwards, we found our way along a small river that was leading us back to
Just when I was sure that we were home-free, mom got a flat on her rear tire again. This one was fatal though. Her
tires were so warn from days of riding on the gravel Inn trail, that the tread gave-out and produced a pretty good-sized hole. Of course, we were
not carrying any extra tires (only extra tubes), and there was no bike shop nearby, so we were in a bit of a bind. I switched the wounded tire to
the front and bandaged it with a repair patch on the inside and outside of the tire and pumped it up as far as possible without blowing the thing
out again. Mom road on it pretty cautiously for the next few kilometers as we tried to decide what to do.
Noting that we had already gone 90km today and that being stranded around here might not be too fun, we checked out the
train schedule at the next town. The train only passes through this country valley a few times a day, but we were lucky that another was coming
in less than an hour. We hopped on this cute little Lilo two-car train that carried us straight into Linz. From the station, it was only a short ride to
the old town with all the hotels and fine cafes. Not a bad save for another tough situation. It is great that bikers in Europe can always use the
trains as a safety in times of trouble. This was the third and final time that we were aided by the friendly euro-rails.
Many foreign people heading to Europe may be concerned about the language barrier for travel around the region. I
previously had very good luck with biking in France, despite a very rudimentary understand of greetings and directions in that language.
However, since this was my third trip to Germany, and I like to claim some kind of German heritage in my mixed-American blood, I really made
an effort to learn some German before coming on this trip. However, I didn't get much farther than basic greetings (again) and a few phrases to
use at the hotel check-in. Of course, restaurants and hotels are the places most often used by tourists, so there is usually at least one person
who speaks English perfectly in order to accomodate all of the travelers who wander around the continent every summer. I know this, but I still
tried to use English when arriving at hotels,
usuaully causing more trouible than anything. Like today, my German confused the guy so much that he asked what other languages I speak. I
said that English is okay, but I also speak Japanese and Spanish. He made some funny comment about the insignificance of these
languages and proceeded to show me around in Spanish. He told us where to put our bikes, and asked what kind of room we would like and
all. Then, he asked for my passport to do the paperwork. When he saw that I am American, he asked (in perfect English) why I did not speak
English. I said that I do speak English, but I simply had offered that I speak these other languages just in case. He suggested that I cut to the
chase and just speak English from the beginning anyway. Which is generally true in German-speaking countries. If you just ask first, Do you
speak English, you can usually dispense with the confusion of your own broken German.