6 Inches

Crossing into Hungary meant crossing a time zone, so I now wake up every morning at 5 am, probably the light. In a hostel or hotel it’s a lot easier to roll over and go back to sleep. Camping takes longer to pack up, as I hang everything up to completely dry, but I rolled out of the campground at 8 am.

The best kind of days starts on flat, dedicated cycle path, and the first 20 km went by in the first hour. Then I found EV6, across the same dike system as before, but with flat, perfect, undamaged paved cycle path and clear signage, so navigation becomes much faster. A major cycle path also comes with benefits.

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As I cruised effortlessly along at 27 kph, I realized I had something else as well – TAILWIND! Tailwinds make everything better, with one exception – heat. I lose the breeze I generate by  moving when the wind pushes me along. I can’t dawdle in a tailwind. Then again, with a tailwind I don’t want to. The next 40 km flew past. 

Then I lost EV6. Well, I hadn’t lost it, I just hadn’t expected a downgrade to grass track. A grass track that I could maintain speed only exactly in the smooth 6-inch rut – very challenging. Too challenging; at the next opportunity I switched back to highway. Almost immediately I realized why EV6 chose the track over the highway. The narrow highway had no shoulder, and heavy traffic. At the next opportunity I switched back to EV6. Following EV6 continued until the next city, where EV6 became the strip road directly on the Danube, a road since time immemorial, with a great view, and absolutely horrible, rattling me apart at speed.

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Normally I would just downgrade my speed, take the day slow, and trundle alone. Today being a tailwind day, not only did I feel the need for speed, but slow meant stifling heat, and I still had 30 km in my plan. I switched back to highway. The highway provided a 6-inch edge, where the asphalt over time sloshed, leaving a section cars didn’t drive on – a challenging shoulder. With traffic screaming past me, I flew down the highway 30 km, surviving to the turnoff to the campground.

I made amazing time today, and arrived at the cutoff for the campground at 2pm. I likely could have made Budapest, but I had yet to reserve a hostel, and with the intense heat today (yet less than forecast tomorrow!), I felt beat. By 3:30 I had the gear unloaded, the tent up, and headed for a swim in the lake. Stunningly hot even now, I think I’m headed back that way.

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