Two Cultures Bicycling Together
By: Lois Requist
I was one of four American women joining a week long bicycle tour from Vienna to Budapest led by Europeans. The other dozen or so riders were German or Austrian, mostly with limited English, and I did not speak German.
The first morning we were to ride, we met outside our Vienna hotel in cycling gear. For us Americans, that included spandex shorts. The week was almost over before we found that the Europeans thought of such shorts as underwear, and thought we were rather brazen to be riding that way.
We rode mostly along the Danube River, stopping here and there for sightseeing. Every part was scenic. Fields in yellow glistened. We were going east, toward Hungary.
The group always stopped midmorning for, well, we thought coffee. Many of the Germans had beer. (I like German beer, but not while riding and not that early in the day.)
Lunch time, same thing. More beer for the Europeans. Afternoon break was a repeat. By dinner time, we were ready for some alcoholic libation; they continued. When we went to bed, they were still imbibing!
Here’s the thing: I never saw any of them drunk.
There was a sag wagon, a van carrying food and drink, and offering a lift to the weary rider. A certain subtle shame goes with getting inside. The only bicyclists who ever had to get in the sag wagon were some of the American women!