Stage 5 - 80 Kms
Now, I'm not easily intimidated but I have to admit to being very upset today over an incident that occurred.
The group had ridden off and I planned to take my time leaving the hotel trying to do a bit of blog catch-up. 'Basil Fawlty' put paid to that by thumping on my door as soon as the others had gone, telling me it was time to go (it was only 09:00am). When I got outside my careful positioning of The Beast to allow for an easy departure was blown out of the window. I'd had Piotr move the van around in front of another parked van, but when I got outside there was a brewery van delivering beer, so all I could do was sit and wait in the van until the job was done.
Once on the road I was going along quite happily until I realized there was evidence of increasing road-works. No signs (that I had been able to read, mind you) nor even any that I might have thought to myself "Now, what's that all about?" Until I found the going getting tougher and tougher. There were no longer any shoulders at the sides of the narrow road - just sharp 6 to 8 inch drop-offs - and further along I could see a backhoe/digger and some trucks and workmen. The digger didn't stop doing its thing as I approached & waited for a bit, so I had to time it to get around it as it swung away from me. Still the workmen said nothing to me or indicated that anything was amiss. Then this huge, and I do mean HUGE, truck came around a bend towards me and took up position in the middle of the narrow road. I did my best "shoulders raised, hands splayed out and remorseful" look on my face but he just kept on coming until he was almost touching the front of The Beast (which was looking pretty insignificant next to that monster, I can tell you). He just starting gesturing at me to back up and I was trying to let him know that it was not something I felt I could do, but he just kept revving and inching forward so I had to start to try to back up on that horrible, narrow road with the sharp drop-offs. I knew if one wheel dropped off I would be stuck! I had to inch backwards for almost half a kilometre as he sat there pushing forward, right up against my grill and shouting out of his window at me. Finally I saw a spot where I thought I might be able to get off the road and turn around and come back the way I had come. There was another big truck there with a driver and I asked him if he could help me (guide me, that is). Nothing doing - he wasn't going to guide me or anything - he just joined in with the shouting and gesticulating at me! I was sweating! At one point I was on an angle across the 'main' road and thought I could make it to turn around and go back the way I had come, but I decided to step out and check first - my back left tire was about 1 inch from the drop-off - and none of them was going to tell me! One man came up to my window and was yelling and gesticulating but I didn't know what he was saying until I realized that what he wanted me to do was to come out backwards and continue in the direction I had originally been going. The big blue truck had managed to get off the road and into the roadworks just there, but I couldn't see any alternative to carrying on through and, although I was very worried that the same thing would happen again if I proceeded in my original direction, that's what I did. The guy who had been so aggressive had been on his radio a lot so I'm guessing he told trucks behind him not to come down to the site because there was a bimbo who didn't know how to drive messing up their work site.
I was so shaken up by this incident (that must have lasted at least half an hour with them shouting at me and the truck right in my face) that when I got on to a clear bit of road again and saw some of our riders ahead I was so relieved I could have cried! Piotr was with this group and I jumped out to tell him that I'd had a difficult situation and I guess he could see I was shaking, so he put his bike in the back of the van and drove me to a coffee about 15 minutes down the road. I told him I had seen nothing to indicate there would be roadworks, just like the other day when I had all those riders in the van with me. It ain't easy!
Now, my camera sits on the front seat right beside me in case I get a "snap attack" and I got one while I was nose down off the side of the road. The driver of the truck in front had gone back to his cab so I snapped off a quick shot of the position I was in - as backup for "you're not going to believe what happened!". I am SO careful with my photos - ordinarily - but yesterday I lost the entire day's photos when I inadvertently deleted a bunch as I was trying to delete only one photo while transferring them from my camera card to my laptop. That shot with the two trucks and me in an embarrassing position would have been a goody - of course - but I don't have it now, unfortunately.
So, proceeding onwards, I met up with Bruce at a little, picturesque (of course!) place called Raabs an der Thaya, which has a fabulous 11th Century castle perched high up on a cliff overlooking the town. We had sat at a little coffee shop/bakery for a while down below and I had roamed the lovely little plaza, but what I didn't know about was the stupendous view of the castle just around the next bend. Bruce decided to get in the van at this point and we set off in The Beast and right around the first corner was this absolutely stunning view! Unable to stop and take a picture I had to go all the way up the next hill before I was able to turn around and go back to town and take a photo - much to Piotr's surprise who was plugging away on his bicycle heading uphill as I was heading in the opposite direction downhill. I managed to get parked again and took some nice photos - but lost them in the same camera disaster as mentioned in previous paragraph. One of the riders was kind enough to send me this photo that she took of the castle.
We are now back in Austria and found the Hotel Gasthof zur Stadt Horn in the town of Horn without any difficulty and also managed to get The Beast parked nicely behind the hotel then sat down to have some soup on the patio outside. What a nice place this turned has out to be. Family run for seven generations, everyone working in the Hotel is related in one way or another and very pleasant and helpful, each also speaking excellent English. Horn is a nice little town, too, and well worth a walk around. We had a nice dinner in the Gasthof tonight, too.