Passau-Wien By Bike - Part 3: Passau-Linz

Son took a glamourous shot! 
First day on the bike. Not my bike, not even a bike I like that much: a city-bike with a too low saddle and a too high handlebar. Just the opposite of my normal position on my race bike, even the one I use in Florence, that has got a race frame but larger wheels and a straight handlebar... This one feels like my old one, the one I used to ride as a little girl - a red Atala weighing a ton. Fortunately here you can shift gears. Two big green bags hang on the back.
There is also a basic computer on it showing kms, current speed and average speed. Mine stopped working after 38 km, the others' have different results but Giacomino and Mariangela smartly brought their own bikes and their computer says we did 61 km at the end of the day. For my son's astonishment, our average speed has been around 18 km/h - his average speed his around 30 km/h training, including a lot of climbing while here the road was almost all flat. Ok: we are taking it easy. 
The captain drives us safely
So easy that our bike ride started by boat! it's more than 100 km from Passau to Linz, too much for us and on those bikes: the first 50 km we just sit and watch the landscape. Son is a little disappointed but he has never been on a river cruise and he bravely dare the wind on the boat's panoramic roof with the rest of the group. Our guide Lisa and I, already experienced, sit inside. Matter of time and they all come down: wind, sun, rain... The roof is panoramic but fucking cold or hot or wet depending on the weather.
In the sluice
Today it's cloudy, the river looks gray and green, reflecting the hills covered on forest and the sky. Now and then a village or even nothing but a boat stop where bikers get off. The lower level of the boat is full of bikes ordinately fitted, including ours. The landscape is nice, not splendid and a little boring. But the main dish on the menu is the sluice and when we pass it we were all on the roof, me included, taking photo, in spite I had already seen it a few times.
The water goes down
It's a slow fascinating process: the boat's speed decreases approaching the sluice, till a complete halt. There it waits while the canal gets filled at the same hight of this part of the river. There are two ways in this sluice so we can see another boat completing the process. When the canal is ready, the metallic barrier isolating it goes down and we get in. Our boat is now closed between two gates and two walls. The water begins to decrease but you can't notice it at first, then it's very fast and evident, you can almost feel the boat sinking under your feet and you definitely see the level of the water going down on the wall. Our boat is now very low on the canal, the roof is lower than the sidewalks atop the walls. A man - but he seems a boy, a very young kid - quickly passes over the front gate and free a mechanism that starts opening the two big metallic doors. It's glorious. A golden light breaks the relative dark, a vertical fissure, like a blade. It grows larger and larger, the light trembling on the free water beyond the gate. It stays all open. The boat starts moving, we move, we pass through. We breath differently, at least I do. The humid air of the river tastes of freedom.
And free we are to ride again our temporary bikes. The stop is just a stop, nothing around, just a narrow road under the trees that soon becomes a bike lane. We ride by the river enjoying this quiet beautiful nature, not stunning but very nice. For lunch we stop in a small town and buy some food in a supermaket: bananas, couscous, dried fruits. A good espresso in a friendly bar.
Not so friendly instead the road into Linz, at the end of the day: a moderate climb on a quite narrow two ways bike lane beside a big high traffic road with cars, busses and trucks driving in the opposite direction. Scary. We reach our hotel more stressed than tired and decide at once that we'll visit the center after dinner. 
That's my 3rd time in Linz: I have been here with my parents when I was a child and later with my husband in a campervan. I remember the rich gothic cathedral and i still prefer the contemporary buildings on the same square. The night walk ends with a drink in a typical trinkengarten: litterally a garden when you can take a drink. Small tables and chairs scattered around under the trees, soft lanterns light, relaxed chattering in a low pleasant voice. Beers and apfelsaft.
Break at the playground!
Linz Cathedral
Contemporary building in Linz

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