Through thick and thin and thick again.

Is it possible for titles to be unrelated to the subject matter which they precede?Sure, the title above could be seen as an example of that; except that somehow this title may shed some light on the trials which a cyclist attempting to cross Europe can encounter. Let’s take Paul Davidson, a rider who has participated on the Tourd’Afrique in it’s entirety, as well as previously cycling sections on the Orient Express (Budapest to Istanbul) as well as the Silk Route (Istanbul to Ashgabat) A man of preternatural navigational ability, a keen sense of humor, and a set of very small wheels.Through 4 days of cycling from Regensburg, Germany to Emmersdorf, Austria, Paul and the rest of our fearless O.E. participants stuck to the Donau Cycle Trail; soaking up it’s serenity, it’s graveled sections, and, luckily, it’s possibilities for curried bratwurst stops. Our final day of the cycling week, which led us to our current locale, Vienna, took a different turn… The night before our cycle to Vienna the sky turned upside down, with clouds opening up and delivering a chorus of raindrops on all our tents which could not be quelled. However, never dreary or droll, Paul and the gang awoke with enthusiasm in the wet dawn, packed up their bags, ate some hot oats, filled their voluminous mugs with coffee and focused on the day of cycling ahead. Paul cycled off on his own, following the small signs for the bike trail seen through his fogged up spectacles; unfortunately the unrelenting rain made map reading difficult, and with heightened attention on the slippery road surface ahead and not on the directional signs, he was caught by what for a cyclist is a kind of mouse trap. If one has ever driven a car in Europe, they may remember that finding the motorways appears to be an incredibly easy chore. Is this due to a heightened ability to navigate the roadways of foreign countries compared to our own? If we should be so lucky…, actually Euro motorways send out giant traction beams (in the form of enormous city direction signs) which incessantly pull motor vehicles towards their on ramps, only to spit them out later at their driver’s destination. Paul’s bike was caught in one of these traction beams, and despite his best efforts was unable to escape its’ pull. Suddenly finding oneself on their bicycle entering the autobahn is really bad enough. To add insult to injury though, the Austrians are a group who have never shied away from telling a person who has made a mistake that they’ve done so. With motorists in their dullish Mercedes purposefully slowing down to yell “Verboten!!!” out their half opened windows (so as not to be too affected by the pummeling rain) Paul cycled miserably onwards. Luckily, being an O.E. participant, Paul is nothing if not resourceful, so within a couple of kilometers, he was able to escape the trap, scaling a small fence after climbing a reasonably accessible embankment. Finding himself on a smaller road, he tuned his mental compass to locate the Donau, set his bike in a downstream direction and began once again cycling the ever pleasant trail towards Vienna. (Mind you on slippery paths and in a torrential rain storm, but at least their was one of the grandest cities in Europe at the end of it all) To Paul who is leaving the group in Budapest. Happy trails! To Bob, Gloria and Walburga who have joined us in Vienna. Welcome aboard!

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