Set in a nature preserve alongside the Inn River dividing the border between Germany and Austria, we spent our first 20 kilometers along a parallel path with no river, just gravel and trees. Nothing more. We could hear the bong of clock towers from nearby towns, but could see nary a building in sight. There were no birds, no crickets, no other humans. The only life form that knew of our presence were the mosquitoes, who would waste no time feasting on our flesh dare we stop for even a moment. We learned our lesson once, and pedaled along without rest until we decided to take a chance on one of the many ramps we had seen. The short hill brought us to the Inn River and while still a bit monotonous, we found other beings like swans, cyclists, and runners.
We traveled along this monotonous gravel road for at least 30 kilometers. Had I paid better attention from the beginning, I could provide the exact distance, for each tenth of a kilometer was labeled with a giant wooden sign. The road bored me so much, that I started doing fartleks and timing how long it took me to ride one kilometer. This all on a touring bike carrying 45 kilograms (roughly 90 lbs).
On our second day along this path, we discovered a paved road that ran parallel to this path. Over several occasions, this road met up with the bike route, thus we knew we were headed in the right direction. Since we had a little mishap with our tablet containing all of our mapping and GPS information (as in it took a nosedive and cracked), we relied solely on basic travel office maps and the well-signed bike routes.
Karnischer Cycle Path R3
While stopping to take a photo, Dave continued along the route. By the time I had put away my camera, Dave was nowhere in sight. No matter, I continued along the parallel road and figured I’d run into him at some point, whether he had taken the actual bike path or not. After riding along the slippery, rocky road for several kilometers, I arrived at a road with no bike signage and no sign of Dave.
I pedaled down a few hundred meters to try and find the river, but found only a few houses and thick woods. I waited several minutes to see if Dave happened to pop out of one of the two other gravel roads I saw, and after a while decided to turn around and make my way to the true bike path.
Once on the path, I saw a man coming from the direction we had traveled and asked whether a) he spoke English (a little), and b) whether he had seen a man with a dog. He said yes, he saw them headed toward the place where I had stopped to take the photo.
Dave’s so smart, I thought. He went back to the last place we had seen one another. Pedaling back at a nice clip, I repeated the distance I had just traveled. A cycle touring couple passed me and I said hallo! with a tone that I had thought indicated “please stop,” but they took it as a friendly greeting and whizzed past me. I tried again, but they were too far ahead. Damn me and my quiet voice! I covered the several kilometers to the photo sight, but did not find Dave and Sora.
So I turned around. I felt a little worried at this point, but knew that as long as I stayed on the R3 Radweg, I’d run into him eventually. He was probably waiting for me ahead at an intersection.
I rode merrily along, faster this time, making my way back to where the man had provided me faulty information. I stopped asked a fisherman whether a) he spoke English (nein), and b) whether he had seen a man with a dog. I tried to indicate that the dog was in a trailer by spacing my hands about a half meter apart and gestured towards the back of my bike. He said many words in German that I didn’t understand, but gathered, that no, he had not seen them.
Several minutes later, I saw a parked bike and increased my speed to chat with the couple resting on the bench. I asked my two questions, which, to my delight, yes, they spoke English, and yes, they had seen Dave! They had spotted the vehicle in question in the woods, about a half hour prior.
So I pedaled even faster, trying my best to catch up. I entered the woods about two kilometers after speaking with the couple and approached a rather sizeable hill. Ok, I thought, there’s no way that Dave would come back down this hill to come find me, so I made my way up the incline.
Near the top, a car passed on my left, put on its left blinker, and stopped just ahead of me. A man emerged from the vehicle and I noticed the fisherman I had questioned earlier. He realized after I had left that my arm gestures signified a trailer. He said that he saw a man ride by with a trailer, but he thought it was a child.
He then went on to say many German Words that I could not understand, but I know that Germans capitalize Nouns so I shall capitalize them here to show the little German knowledge I understand.
Ja? He asked once he finished.
Nein! I caught the words “funf (five) kilometers” and “auto.” I just shrugged, said danke and continued on my way. The forest road led to the main road, so I continued along, as indicated by the R3 Radweg signs.
Now on paved road, I was cruising. I realized then that the fisherman had told me that he had driven five kilometers along the road to look for Dave, but didn’t see him. What an incredibly nice thing to do, I thought.
I passed a driveway for an inn and as I looked down the road, I saw my fisherman friend. By now, I recognized his walking stride and his curly gray hair. I turned into the driveway and tried my best to convey what I believed he had done to help my search.
An old couple walked down the drive and I asked whether they spoke English. Nicht.
My fisherman friend was about to get back into his car, when I saw a cyclist make his way down the driveway. As he approached, he said hallo, in a way that I knew this man spoke English.
With a voice of desperation, I asked, in English, whether he spoke English.
Yes, he did. I asked whether he had seen Dave and Sora. Yes, he had.
He had seen them on the road, 15 minutes before. Great, I’m whittling down the distance between us rather quickly, I thought!
I then asked the cyclist to tell the fisherman that he had seen Dave. From what I gathered from their conversation, the cyclist told the fisherman that the bikepath turns right, and therefore, he would have missed Dave. I thanked them both and put all of my energy into finding Dave and Sora. Two hours or so had passed since I had seen them last.
I arrived at the right turn mentioned by the cyclist and made my way down a very long, steep hill. About ten meters in, I turned around, just to be certain that I was going the right direction. Nervously, I continued down the hill. The bikepath we were following went back and forth between Germany and Austria. The sign at the top of the hill mentioned the next destination as a town in Germany, and I wasn’t sure I was meant to be crossing the border once more.
With no other direction to guide me, I made my way down the hill, enjoying the beautiful green valley below.
Just near the bottom, I saw a couple about to make their way up the hill I had just come down.
“Jen?” The woman asked.
“Yes?! I’m Jen!”
The man asked whether I was looking for Dave.
“Yes! Yes, I’m looking for Dave!”
They told me where I could find him, just two kilometers down the road, on the right-hand side.
I thanked them and pedaled swiftly towards my missing half and found him seated on a bench, just next to a public soaking pool with fresh water to fill our bottle and bench to feast on peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
We stuck together the remainder of the afternoon.