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Day 5 : Zistersdorf to Narad …130.5 km

Leaving Zistersdorf we all felt a little wind bruised from yesterdays experience and approached the climb up onto the plateau above Zistersdorf with some trepidation.

Well I did at least.

We need fear not. Once onto the plateau, what wind existed was both gentle and from behind, pushing us along at a decent clip as we passed massive wind turbines and dropped down into the Moravia Valley at Dumkruk.

Turning right we headed south along the valley floor passing through quiet towns that seemed devoid of activity or even people for that matter. As Gareth.W commented the towns had that feeling of a hangover from the May Day Celebrations of the previous day.

The roads were ridiculously smooth and flat and the wind continued to push us along at a previously unimaginable average speed of 22-25 kph.

Stopping in Marchegg for our first and last coffee in Austria we got a real feel for the disparity in cost of living between the Czech Republic and Austria. In the former a round of coffees for the three of us and some cake would be less than £10 . Austria? Try close to £25.

At this point the rain also appeared.

Soon after Marchegg we also passed our first and last castle in Austria . The somewhat grand Castle Hof. Which for some reason, had in its grounds, a collection of Bactrian Camels. I had to do a double take to confirm I was seeing what I was seeing.

Leaving Austria we cycled over a narrow pedestrian bridge into Slovakia. We had been in Austria for less than 24 hours.

Hoping to have a photo in front of a sign signalling our arrival into Slovakia we were disappointed to find none and instead we were welcomed by the view of three Slovakian men doing callisthenics in a public park, in the rain, shirtless, in their underwear.

Camel’s in Austria, semi naked narcissists in Slovakia. You couldn’t script it.

The cycle path wasn’t quite as smooth as the roads we had been enjoying in Austria but we were soon at the confluence of the Moravia and Danube Rivers. What an impressive sight it was too. We were all surprised at the speed of the Danube river flow at this juncture and somewhat impressed by the sheer size and volume of it (the Danube).

From this point onwards the Danube would always be by our side as we made our way towards Budapest.

It was a short 10 km ride into Bratislava where we crossed over the Danube to enjoy lunchtime views of Bratislava Old Town and Castle. Then crossed back over to the northern side of the river and headed some 60km down stream to our accommodation for the night.

By this stage the sun had appeared, the wind had strengthened (still from behind us) , the path was flat and the pace was subsequently a quick one with the km’s passing by rapidly.

The ride up to the windswept plateau we had battled across yesterday was done with trepidation. However it was a misplaced fear as the road was smooth, the wind gentle and from behind us, few cars, and we all proclaimed what a beautiful start to the day it was.

The vast open and exposed roads of the plateau above Zistersdorf. A lot more user friendly today.

No lack of Rapeseed fields throughout this ride.

For Gareth, a vegetarian, the menu choices had been minimal thus far. Mostly fried cheese. Yup you read that right. For some reason the only non meat option on most menus in the Czech Republic had been fried cheese. This sign thus had a certain poignancy to it.

Looking across the gentle flowing Moravia River towards Slovakia. We weren’t to cross the Danube for another 50 km.

Our first and last erected Maypole of the entire ride. For such a supposedly big festival we were all a little surprised at how few Maypoles we had actually seen. Erected or not.

The roads of Austria were a delight. Flat, smooth and very quiet as we headed towards Slovakia.

Castle Hof. An impressive display of wealth. Complete with Mongolian Camels. Who would’ve thought.

Three men doing exercises in their underwear in a public park in the rain in Slovakia. Our first sight as we crossed over a narrow bridge from Austria.

The confluence of the Moravia and Danube rivers. An impressive junction of fast flowing water.

A white granite memorial to all those who had perished here trying to flee the claws of communism.

Bratislava Castle and Old Town.

Tis asparagus season. So asparagus it shall be!

Danube riverside path is as you’d expect. Very very flat.

Very flat.

With wind pushing us along the kms passed by quickly

The width of the Danube was impressive. We were also surprised at the lack of commercial vessels we saw. The total being only a solitary German flagged barge transporting a collection of newly manufactured cars upstream.

Next to zero recreational use of the Danube was a surprise too. This lone kite surfer the exception.

Wide river and a flat 60km cycle ride downstream and downwind did become a little dull at times. The lack of any food or drinks concessions riverside was interesting only because now some 1-2 hours after lunch we were all hoping for a mid afternoon coffee or ice cream.

Nada. Zippo. Zilch.

The solitary commercial vessel passing two chaps on bikes bantering about baroque architecture.

The mighty Gabcikovo Lock / Waterworks. An impressive display of big engineering. Here the Danube drops about 60ft and that drop is sufficient to also drive electric producing turbines.

Reward for a long day of cycling. By some distance our longest day in terms of km covered. However with the help of the terrain and the wind not our longest day in the saddle In terms of hours.

On that note and because I love a statistic ..

16% cycled further than yesterday in 7% less time .. 15.75 kph average speed yesterday v 20.5 kph today …4.75 kph quicker today per hour which over a 6 hour period equates to 28.5 km cycled further or if you were to extrapolate it over 12 hours equates to 57 km further or 114 km further over a full 24 hour period.

Small increments make a difference.

Take a million dollars in cash now or a penny doubled every day for a month.


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