Written by Adam Wilkey, President, World Spine Care Europe
World Spine Care Europe’s annual fundraising ride came around quickly this year and before we knew it, we were once again mounting cycles.
The team of riders arrived from various locations across Europe this year so we all met at the Munich airport ready to ride at 17:30 – our first 50 km to Landshut.
The van arrived after a 2-day journey followed by ‘The Germans’ who got all the bikes ready and set up for a speedy set off when the rest of the team arrived. Once everyone was there and ready we set off quickly trying to get the first 50 km over before it got too dark. As the evening started to fall and we rode alongside a river, the mosquitos had a feast! Day 1 acted as a great warm-up for the next 5 days and a lovely Italian meal fuelled us ready for day 2.
Day 2 saw us off with a puncture after just 200 yards. There were several setbacks with but the scenery softened the blows as we rode through lovely cornfields, farmlands, and villages heading towards the Danube. Our favourite discovery was a lovely town called “Regensburg”; a real ‘magical combination of charm and stone’. We hit the Danube (which we pretty much followed the rest of the trip with a few deviations) and followed it to Worth where we had a delicious Greek meal and then rested to get ready for the next 120 km. By the end of the day we had had a few scrapes, accidents, and a bee sting (on Adam’s lip!) but overall still an enjoyable ride.
Day 3 started at the Danube and we spent most of the day following it to Passau. The day was smooth sailing until we hit the hill and had a snapped chain. Thankfully it snapped before we started up the hill so there was no lost momentum or hill starts! That evening we stayed in a youth hostel inside the walls of a castle which reminded us of our 2018 trip with a stop in the castle walls of Carcassonne. We enjoyed a hearty German meal followed by some exploring of the walls of the castle before resting to for Austria.
During day 4 we entered Austria, although we’re not quite sure when. The other bank of the river was Austria but on our side, we had a 5-10-mile ride in Germany with no signage notifying us that we had crossed countries. We cycled through lots of woodlands next to the river with occasional breaks in the scenery revealing little villages surrounding spires. We stopped for lunch by the river and the view was stunning with the contrast of the green hills and beautiful water. The day continued along the river until we arrived in Linz where we decided to try some Japanese to fuel us up for day 5.
Day 5 led us from Linz to Melk. It seemed we overstayed our welcome in Linz as we started off with getting a parking ticket! We got our belongings packed quickly. The start of the route was very industrial before we reached the river yet again. There were grey skies to match the grey of the scenery but thankfully we didn’t get rained on. Towards the end of the day, we rode on a high flood barrier road built for bikes with the wind behind us so we were just flying along. It was not a smooth day, as we had lots of punctures again and a few detours to try and avoid riding through fields but our trusty Garmin led us through detours safe and sound. It was also a beautiful sight when we passed the only sunflower field we would see for the whole ride. When we arrived in Melk we had to split up as 5 of us were in an Air BnB just out of town whilst the rest of the team stayed in a Youth Hostel.
Day 6 was not at all like the other 5 days. We were followed by thunderstorms, lightening and to top it all we had to take a ferry with those conditions (something I wasn’t keen on at all with his travel sickness!). It’s safe to say we were all completely drenched, even if we did try and avoid the worst of the rain. It was nice to stop for our lunch break in a quaint town next to another castle. We did get a little lost trying to get back en route because the route led us to a dam that we couldn’t get across so we headed back to the main road and around, which added a whole extra hour to our ride. As we got closer to Vienna, we got split into 3 groups but luckily each one had a Garmin to guide them. We were happy to see cycle paths everywhere in Vienna – it was brilliant! Vienna was lovely but we couldn’t really appreciate it because of the rain, hence the lack of ‘victory’ pictures upon arrival. We had to load up the van so that two members of our group could set off early the next morning. We went for an Italian dinner, and we were able to stay in the heart of the city ready to explore Vienna on day 7 whilst we were waiting for the plane, trying schnitzels and finally enjoying the beautiful sights as real tourists.