Oh, woe, the BSO. Chad does not like it.
While planning the Danube cycling trip, we thought about bringing our own bikes, but between the exorbitant fees the airlines charge to transport them, the worry and inconvenience of having large luggage, the logistical challenges of the fast train from Budapest to Vienna only taking boxed bikes rather than allowing you to ride up and roll one on (necessitating you to figure out what to do with the bike box/bag afterward), and the fact that the terrain we were planning to ride being flat enough that one could really ride any old bike, I talked Chad into using rental bikes. It was really the most convenient solution.
I did point out that he could mock me for decades if it needed to.
The outfit we booked the trip with, who made our hotel reservations, and schlepped our luggage from hotel to hotel only provided what we refer to as "Mommy bikes" (a reference to the clunker of a bicycle that Sakamichi Onoda rides at the beginning of the fantastic cycling anime series Yowamushi Pedal). Heavy, ugly, inefficient beasts.
They're oddly suited to this kind of tour, as they are stable and indestructible, and no sane person would ever steal one, but as you might imagine are quite different than the featherweight steeds to which we are accustomed.
One thing that is hard to appreciate from the picture is just how ridiculously enormous and squishy the seats were. When you are used to a completely different shape and size, this is just obnoxious. As Nimue kept saying, "My seat is being a butt." The riding position was also quite upright, which is not normal for us either, leaving Chad constantly looking a bit uncomfortable.
He attempted to vary the riding position to no avail.
I wasn't bothered quite as much, maybe because I so appreciated the logistical simplicity of not having to bring our own. Still, I had a few minor quibbles:
The bracket for the handlebar bag wasn't shimmed correctly, making it impossible to tighten enough to keep it from rotating down. Annoying for me, and impossible for Chad, as when it rotated down, his knees kept hitting it. As a result, I ended up with the handlebar bag with the map on my bike, and all of the navigational responsibilities, instead of taking turns. On the bright side, I'm good at that :)
The day bags looked waterproof, but weren't. Much wetness on the one day it rained.
And boy, were those bikes heavy!! I didn't fully appreciate how heavy until we had to carry them up some stairs at the train station in Gyor after a short train transfer to avoid an annoying stretch of busy road. The thing probably weighed three time what my commute bike at home weighs.
This did explain why our speed on previous days was a bit less than anticipated...
Still, the bikes got us from place to place and were quite robust. I think the only adjustment Chad had to make was on the attachment of the day bag they provided onto Nimue's rack.
We had a minor adjustment to the kiddo too, as she had a sore wrist after sliding out on a wet cobbled speed bump to avoid running into Chad after he slowed down more suddenly than she expected. I don't think she saw the speed bump coming, and once the wheel started to slide, the weight of the bike made a tip-over inevitable. A ace-bandage-like object purchased for 0.77 Euro in Bratislava made a world of difference. As an added bonus, it gave me the interesting experience of explaining what I needed to a very nice Slovakian pharmacist through the language barrier.
The bikes did ride better than this one would have.
Chad eventually found a comfortable way to sit on the bike. (One can't *ride* in this position, but that is a minor detail...)
And by and large, people were happy enough to make the Yowamushi Pedal "Go!" gesture. (Pictured waiting for the ferry at Vac, Hungary.)
Mock me if you will, but it all worked out quite well!