Well you did it. You put on another great Eddy Merckx Classic.
After all, I've been a fan for decades, ever since pinning a poster of Eddy The Cannibal breaking the hour record to the garage wall. I'd stare at it as motivation on rainy days riding rollers. It helped launch me on a lifetime of cycling adventures, and sometimes into the wall when I slipped off the rollers...
Your event did not disappoint. Thanks for inviting me.
From the start in Fuschl am See as sunlight illuminates the peak above town till the last of 2000 riders finish in late afternoon shadows it is a perfect day to ride. I really like that little leg opener of a climb at the beginning to get things going. Starting in the 2nd wave it is an exciting exercise in slalom weaving through riders.
I rode the unofficial 125km Eddy Merckx Classic Detour. One little lost in translation moment set me on a new course - the wrong one.
You see, at a roundabout my group split. Half go left, half right. Turning left, I check with riders using my best pantomime to make sure it is the 168km course. Austrians and Germans just stare at the crazy American waving hands and holding 1, 6 or 8 fingers in the air. Eventually, a rider says "Nein" and points backwards. Turning around I chase to rejoin the other group.
Another roundabout provides opportunity for more drama, but this time I see the 168km arrow and know where to go. Other riders, all of them, follow the 101km arrow. That's odd I muse. Anyhow, it's a beautiful day to ride so I pedal forward, solo, soaking up Austrian sun and wonderful views.
I'm adrift in Austria. No map. No phone. No pump. No euros and limited German vocabulary - Bier, Apfelstrudel, Kaffee, Ja, Nein, Hallo and Danke.
Austria is my Bermuda Triangle.
It's indisputable now. Somehow, I took a detour, got lost, cut the course and now ride ahead of 168km racers. If they catch me I'll be DQ'd. If I finish in front of them I'll be DQ'd. It's a no-win situation. I know, I know it's my fault since it's the rider's responsibility to know the course.
Now confidently back on course, fantastic mountain landscapes, imposing Alpine peaks and pristine fields swaying in light breeze help improve my spirits. Stopping to admire historical towns like St. Gilgen with its 15thcentury gothic church nestled on the edge of Lake Wolfgang is unforgettable.
Notwithstanding my fate, any day on a bike is a good day, even with a detour and DQ. Austria is paradise, cycling paradise.
I'll be back...
Cheers and have a great day,
John "The Bucket Rider" Woodson
John is a former faux pro racer enjoying life as a geriatric cyclist in search of great bucket list rides to keep him in shape and out of trouble - well, at least in shape.
He writes about his Bucket Rides in all their variety and glory for Granfondo.com. See his pieces here