For non-cyclist readers, chamois-cream is unguent applied to those parts of cyclists most likely to chafe. It should be obvious why a second scoop, at least with the hand that applied the first scoop, is a serious breach of hygiene and marital etiquette! NB I have not done this!
- distance cycled: 16.8 miles (Maienfeld to Buchs) + 27.1 (Buchs to Hard) + 3.2 miles (Hard to Bregenz – Google Maps estimate) = 47.1 miles
- cumulative distance: 147.8 miles
Well, we’ve done it again: we’ve arrived completely unaware in a city in full-on festival mode. We’re in Bregenz, in the western-most state of Austria (Vorarlberg), and it’s their summer opera-festival! Usually, I only get near culture by wearing the same socks for several days.
I’m currently wrapping myself around a huge cheese-less pizza and my first non-diet coke in years, while Elly is enjoying a penne paesana. I bonked again today, despite a huge breakfast, a large lunch at Buchs, lots of glucose, banana-bread, and surprise nuts in the afternoon from my wonderful wife.
We had promised ourselves an easier day, with a lie-in cycling mostly along the flat, well-surfaced paths that tend to surmount the dykes on either side of major European rivers. However, we decided to stop for an early lunch in Buchs so that voracious-reader Elly could restock her Kindle. Boom-tish! Seriously, we did stop in Buchs, and we did eat (Schinken-käse-toast for Elly, chips for me). And Elly did buch tonight’s hotel at Buchs. We also paid a micro-visit to Liechtenstein, simply to border-bag. (Zoom in on mile 12 of the Buchs to Hard map.
After lunch, we knew we had less than 30 miles along dyke-top paths to go, and we were confident of doing that in less than two hours. We hadn’t reckoned on stretches of gravel path next to the river, a mild but surprisingly effective head-wind, quite strong sun and leaden legs. So I began to bonk after about 10 miles. (This is where Elly’s nuts sustained me, at an impromptu stop near Rüthi.) Despite being somewhat recovered, we were still persuaded by a gravel path to abandon Switzerland for Austria after a further 3 miles. My semi-motherland rewarded us with tarmac and trees providing shade and wind-breaks, at least for a while.
We had promised ourselves a drinks stop at Lustenau, but stopped a couple of miles sooner, seduced by a beer-garden next to a swimming-pool. Despite this, I was still running on fumes. (Elly was similarly afflicted with a cold.) I think this explains (but does not forgive) my poor crossing of the Rhine between Fußach and Hard. Elly waited to cross sensibly, and I didn’t notice this until a couple of minutes later when I realised she wasn’t behind me, and that I couldn’t even see her in the distance. I was frantic with worry. Had she missed the crossing, and carried on along the Rhine? Was she ahead of me, on the cycle-path on other side of the road? Or was she behind me, under a lorry? (We were now on a busy road.)
Even if she was safe, how could I contact her? (jPhone wasn’t charging from Lev’s dynamo or an emergency USB battery, and was deep into the red.) Elly keeps her phone in her handbag, and doesn’t wear headphones when cycling, so was unlikely to hear me texting or calling. Thank goodness she stopped to text me. She was OK, but about a mile behind me, held up by traffic. We agreed to meet at the hotel, but I can’t say how relieved – and yet guilty – I was when she arrived.
Ah well, the good news is that much more of today was highly enjoyable. (Elly’s blog explains why.) There was mostly smooth tarmac free of traffic, the bonks were less deep, foot-pain was much less intense and frequent, and I know again how much I love my lady. And I’ve learnt How to be a competent cycle-tourist, lesson 1: do not get your camel-spout caught in your hair. Tschuss!