Little holiday to the Austrian Alps Part 1/2

My family are all quite avid cyclists and so they decided to go on a cycling holiday to the Alps. During the summer all of the famous ski slopes turn into downhill mountain bike tracks and that was something that they all wanted to do. My uncle who lives down south somewhere had hired an apartment out that sleeps 8 people. He and his wife were two, and it was supposed to be: his daughter and her boyfriend, 3 of my uncles and one of their sons. Unfortunately for them there were three cancellations. His daughter and her boyfriend could no longer come and one of my uncles decided he didn’t really want to go. That let for an invitation for me and another one of my cousins to come. Having said that, because of work/car issues, we didn’t know whether we could actually go until 3 days before we departed. This doesn’t seem like much of a disaster, it’s still plenty of time to get organised for the journey and the holiday and on the morning (3am) of leaving I was all fine, no problems other than the very long drive ahead from Liverpool to Austria. For me that was fine, I don’t drive so I was just a passenger for the whole journey but when your driver is young, nervous, tired, and getting annoyed at following the person with the sat-nav who is clearly going the wrong way it starts to get a bit tedious, and so the holiday was starting to go downhill before we even got there.

The drive from Liverpool to Dover was fine. We had two stops, one for a coffee and one for a sleep, we didn’t need to follow them to find our way there so it was all good. Had no problems at the ferry terminal, got on to the ferry okay, my cousin who was driving slept for the entire 2 hours so he was good to go once we got off, and for an hour or so on the other side it seemed okay, we were following them as instructed until we thought, maybe we weren’t going in the right direction. So the car with the two people in who have been driving abroad for 30+ years all over Europe and had the sat-nav didn’t realise they were going in the wrong direction until the other car with the 21 and 23 year old with no sat-nav or map told them. It turned out that they had the sat-nav on a setting which avoids all toll roads. The drive then, which was going to be long as it is, was pretty much doubled. The journey in its entirety, with sleep breaks in service stations and an extremely rude German policeman who assumed we were carrying drugs, took about 30 hours. Eventually though we did get there and the apartment was really nice (made nicer by not having to pay for it).

The holiday only progressed further downhill from there though (no pun intended regarding the part of the story I am about to get on to). Now I said before that everyone going was an avid cyclist so they all had thousands of pounds worth of bikes strapped to the back of the cars, bikes that were made for downhill mountain biking. I on the other hand had not ridden a bike for several years and I think this was my first time on an actually adult bike, a bike that I had to hire that I can guarantee was not worth thousands of pounds. Now my uncles and cousins when they get around each other with only one woman on the holiday get very masculine, everyone trying to be the alpha male on the holiday, so naturally on the first day, they want to go on the hardest trail there is. Having not wanted to go cycling in the first place and only really doing it out of courtesy wasn’t quite as eager but thought “How bad can it be?” and just agreed and got on with it. I instantly regretted that decision.

Instantly is much more literal than it usually would be in this situation as well. To get to the top of the mountain we had to cycle to the cable car place, about 15 minutes away. I only lasted about 15 seconds before my first fall of the holiday. There was a steep hill leading down from our apartment to the cycle track that goes to the cable car place so naturally I needed to brake when going down it. One of the few things I remembered about riding a bike was that the front brake is the one on the right and the back brake is the one on the left. Apparently in Austria, they’re the other way around. So I put on what I thought was my back brake, stopped my front tyre completely, went over my handlebars, ripped all the skin off both my elbows and most of my hands. Now that should really have been where I thought, “this isn’t really for me, I’ll try and get my money back on the bike and do something else on my own”, but that’s not at all how it happened. I got back on and powered through.

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