Willowitz - Mauthausen (Nr. Linz) 70.5 kms 1608’ ascent
It was with a sense of relief that, when I received the bill from our hostess, I did not find myself in the embarrassing position of having insufficient funds to meet it. I even had 10 euros left over. She waved us off as we turned left and on into Austria. What a welcome we have received! Our turning left took us up a three kilometre climb, fairly steady it has to be said, but with early morning sluggish legs it was a real wake up call. Our overriding need for money, food and maps was sufficient encouragement to reach the next village. Here, we succeeded with our first two requirements but the information office, as we have often found, had no relevant information, let alone maps. However, Alan had found two copies of the cycle route maps in the guest house, taken one and left, in its place, all the maps we no longer needed. Clever fellow at times. He has mused today over his affinity for Austria. A clue might just be that everything is neat and tidy; fields are bordered by straight lines, the roads have defined edges, the houses have symmetrical flower boxes on the windowsills and even the trees stand straight! I think all that might just be a clue.
As we rode through these sunny, tidy fields, the storm clouds began to gather in some strength. As usual, we were a bit slow to react and, as the thunder and lightning moved closer we were still out in the open. Then all hell broke loose as the rain and hail hurtled earthwards. Once we were soaking wet, we finally found shelter in a petrol station. The last time we had seen a storm of this ferocity was on my first trip, and Alan’s second, to (guess where) Austria, when we were camping in a mountain tent inside another frame tent and frantically digging trenches with ice axes to direct the flood water away from the canvas. This time we were ushered into the service station by a concerned owner who was worried about the proximity of the lightning to the fuel!
Now seemed like a good time to find a stopover. We tried. The first was shut for the holidays, the second required a telephone call to ask for a key, the third (at the top of a huge hill) was shut and derelict and the fourth was full. Never mind, we soldiered on and found a very adequate b&b and are in the process of drying out. Welcome to Austria!