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CYCLING THE TYROL—IN 1905    PART 1

MY 1905 BAEDEKER’S AUSTRIA-HUNGARY is prior to the commonality of motor cars, so I frame these tidbits of travel here in Part 1 around cycling, which is more than adequately treated in the famous guidebook series. And tomorrow in Part 2, we enjoy an itinerary from Innsbruck to Bozen. 

Baedeker’s Austria-Hungary by Karl Baedeker, 1905

Cycling. “The roads of Austria-Hungary, on the whole,” Baedeker noted, “fall considerably short of the English standard, for the steam-roller is unknown in that country. The best of those are in Tyrol and Carinthia, which are about equal in quality to middling English roads.”

Baedeker continued, “As a rule, the principal roads in the neighbourhood of the larger towns are in bad condition owing to the traffic, and are almost impassable in wet weather. The roads in the principal Alpine valleys are often very fair and generally not very steep. When they lead over a pass they are mostly rideable with comfort up to a certain point; then comes a steep rise followed by a steep pitch on the other side, and then again a moderate incline.”

Earlier in the guidebook, Baedeker established that “Distances by road are given approximately in English miles; but in the case of mountain-excursions they are expressed by the time in which they can be accomplished by average walkers.”

I’d be likely to walk the bike up those steep rises, but certainly would be tempted to ride down the steep pitches.

Image from 1stdibs.com. 

Keep Left, Er… Right, Er.… “The rule of the road in Austria is somewhat complicated. In Styria, Upper and Lower Austria, Salzburg, Carniola, Croatia, and in Hungary we keep to the left, and pass to the right in overtaking. In Carinthia, Tyrol, and the Austrian Littoral (Adriatic coast: Trieste, Gorizia and Gradisca, Istria and Dalmatia) we keep to the right and overtake to the left.”

Empire image from Baedeker’s Austria-Hungary. Tyrol images below from Wikipedia.

However, note well: “Troops on the march always keep to the right side of the road, so in whatever part of the Empire you meet them, keep to the left.” 

I’m reminded of Ogden Nash’s dictum: “Should you behold a panther crouch,/ Prepare to say Ouch./ Better yet, if called by a panther,/ Don’t anther.” 

Cycle Policing. Baedeker observes, “On the whole, the police are not nearly so strict in Austria as they are in Germany with regard to the use of footpaths by cyclists…. In some locales there are special laws, for instance with regard to the use of certain streets by cyclists. But these muncipal regulations are too numerous and subject to too frequent change to be quoted here. They are moreover not applied very strictly in the case of foreign riders.” 

So, apparently, keep that Tyrolean hat stowed in your knapsack.

Image from pinterest.com

More on Being ein Ausländer. “English travellers,” Baedeker observed, “often give trouble by ordering things almost unknown in Austrian usage; and they are apt to become involved in disputes owing to their ignorance of the language. They should therefore endeavor to acquire enough of the German language to render themselves intelligible to the servants, and should try to conform as far as possible to the habits of the country.” 

Another suggestion: “Where the traveller remains for a week or more at a hotel, it is advisable to pay, or at least call for his account every two or three days, in order that errors may be at once detected. Verbal reckonings are objectionable.” 

Image from Baedeker’s Austria-Hungary.

“A waiter’s arithmetic is faulty,” Baedeker noted, “and his mistakes are seldom in favour of the traveller.” 

Tomorrow in Part 2, we amble from Innsbruck into the Alps south to Bozen (aka Bolzano, but not in 1905). ds  

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

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