If this is the first page you have landed on then you are stepping into my TCR journey somewhere in the middle, check out what has come before:
- TCR Ride Report: Day -1
- TCR Ride Report: Day 1
- TCR Ride Report: Day 2
- TCR Ride Report: Day 3
- TCR Ride Report: Day 4
- TCR Ride Report: Day 5
- TCR Ride Report: Day 6
- TCR Ride Report: Day 7
My alarm woke me at about 4 I think. I knew that ahead of me this morning were two climbs and then it was a long steady 160ish kilometre almost flat descent through Hungary to Bratislava. I had planned for this after having to give myself a talking to last night about getting my head in the right place. I was going to put aside my negativity if only for enough time to power over these two climbs. Why couldn’t I just put it away for good? Sometimes, it’s just not that simple.
Power over these two hills I did and I felt much better for it. I had slipped into a cycling style the last couple of days where I wasn’t attacking anything, I was just spinning along. To attack these hills felt very good and set me up with a good frame of mind to enter Hungary. I had been dreading Hungary ever since route planning stage with so many roads where bikes are prohibited and reports of it not generally being great to cycle in anyway. Hungary was the other point in my route where I had planned two options, the first was the most direct to checkpoint 3 straight across the middle but mostly on likely prohibited roads. I had taken the extent of the prohibitions with a pinch of salt but after 20km riding after entering Hungary it seemed clear that this first option whilst complying with local law would be a task of patience and maze running, not particularly viable if I wanted to get anywhere quickly.
My second planned route option through Hungary headed pretty much due North straight towards Bratislava from where I would then have to head Northeast to checkpoint 3. This route was mostly on minor roads but in a pretty straight line. After riding this route I think it may actually have been an on road cycle route a lot of the way but I can’t be sure.
Just like Day 6 when it was flat and straight through Italy, today I got down on the bars and powered on. I stopped at a lot of little shops for water, coke and other bits. Civilisation en route was, for the most part, small villages. I pulled into a larger town at one point early on looking for somewhere to swap euros for florints and was helped by a kind Italian woman doing so. I remember stopping for an espresso in a small place in the middle of the day when everything was shut.
Overall the people of Hungary were lovely and the amenities conducive to the task at hand. This is hardly the kindest or most rewarding away to ruminate on an entire nation of people but it is all I have unfortunately. I was prepared for an awful experience of Hungary but I enjoyed myself. Coming out of Hungary into Austria on the other side was a little bit different. The ’nothing is open’ reality of Sundays in western Europe punched me right in the face as soon as I crossed the border. I was hungry and and thirsty and hadn’t planned ahead to be supplied before Austria. According to OsmAnd my best bet for supplies was 15km ahead in the slowly rescinding heat of the day with no shade insight. I dragged myself there with little fervour but the shop I was chasing was disappointingly closed.
I may well have been too hungry and dehydrated to form memories of what happened next but I must have managed to eat and drink something. Next thing I remember is sitting by the side of the road on the opposite side of the river to Bratislava. Two men rolled up on bikes whom it turned out were out hunting for me to say hello, they were part of the dot watching wing of the TCR family this year. They were so friendly and kind, they gave me a boost and where I had been figuring on scratching in Bratislava I became determined to not do so. I would still stop for the day but I would get up again in the morning, something I had not be been able visualise prior to this encounter. It wasn’t even dark yet though the sun was going down, stopping so early again was a clear sign my race was going proverbially, and regrettably not figuratively, down hill.
My search for hotel in Bratislava was long winded and I went through 3 before I found somewhere that would accommodate me and my bike. The first accepted my booking online but turned out to be full, to their credit they had arranged for the higher star rated hotel next door to take me. This hotel however would not let my bike near my room under any circumstances, I would have to store it down 4 flights of stairs which I didn’t fancy. I ambled around the city centre after this for a while considering what to do. My options were push on into the night or find another hotel. I found another hotel, it wasn’t cheap but I got what I paid for and felt very comfortable there. A very hot shower and a very large bed awaited me.
I set no alarm but told myself to get back on the bike in the morning.
Carry on the adventure with me on Day 9.