This is our final day of biking. In what now seems like second nature after only a few days together, we met early for breakfast, settled up with the owner of the wonderful Gasthof in the countryside near Teisendorf and rolled out early. Today the destination was the beautiful city of Salzburg, Austria. The ride was only a few miles today and, unbelievably, downhill all the way! The weather warned as the sun came out, and as we rode along the Salzach River in Salzburg, we stopped to celebrate our goal of pedaling 500 miles. What a great feeling! It was a fitting achievement for an adventure that we planned - worked towards - for so many months.
After a wonderful lunch we toured Salzburg on our bikes. We saw castles and churches under the fort that sits high above the city. We ended our ride at the Mirabelle Palace and enjoyed a relaxing walk around the gardens in and out of the shade. There was a striking contrast between the serene, natural, open landscapes we had seen for days and the beautiful but touristy city. We were struck to hear a number of Americans speaking English as we hadn't encountered other English speakers the whole week. Reality was beginning to sink in about our return. We proceeded to the famous Augustiner Biergarten and arrived about ten minutes before the 3:00 opening time to join a very long line waiting to get in. We got our half liters of Helles and toasted as had been our custom, but this time, knowing that it was our last toast of the ride, the sense of accomplishment and finality seemed to hang in the air bit more. But the beer tasted just as good and went down rapidly as it was a bright and very warm day.
We then rode to train station for our trip back to our host's lovely home south of Munich.On our way the wheel of one of our team members caught on the curb and he took a spill. After quickly getting back up, he seemed not much worse for the fall other than a little blood and a hit on the pride front, so we pedaled on. We were able to bring our bikes and panniers on to the train quite easily and the train left on time and arrived smoothly and on time shortly after 6 pm.
As most already know there was a terrorist event in Munich in which 8 people were killed and the shooter is believed to have committed suicide.
We noticed three policeman in full gear with their Uzis drawn, standing back to back in a circle, eyes canvassing the area. We didn't find out about the terrible shooting until we were well outside of Munich, safely at Thomas's house. The shooting happened about 20 minutes before our arrival in Munich, about four miles north of the main train station.
Much like the events last week in Nice, this attack is another atrocity against humanity and we are saddened that these attacks have occurred in two of the most beautiful places that we have ever visited. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Munich but we know they will overcome this tragedy with strength and perseverance.
Three of us were picked up in the rain by Thomas's wife Susi (thank you for the ride!) while Max and Thomas rode their bikes in the rain back to Thomas's home. As has been our code, we never reveal names for the spills and thrills part of our adventure but it seemed Thomas might have been a little happier on this one.
We learned of the shootings in Munich and how close we had been to the crazed killer and realized the logistical difficulty we would have had yesterday if the train had been ten minutes later as everything was shut down. Caroline, Thomas's daughter, was supposed to have left late in the evening on a bus to go to the North Sea, but those plans were postponed for a day since all buses and trains out of Munich were cancelled.
We had another great dinner and then got in some rest for a busy Saturday.
We rode a total of 504 miles on this adventure. As I said early on,
“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it”
This quote seems all the more true now. I plan on one more post which will be some final thoughts, thanks, and musings. I hope you got something out of this because it was certainly a lot of fun doing it.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!