If you've been reading this blog for some time, you are familiar with "Jacqueline" - the vintage Steyr Waffenrad lugged swan-frame bicycle that I ride in Austria. Though she does not belong to me, my friend Wolfgang lends her to me when I am in Vienna. I keep Jacqueline parked outside the flat where I am staying, and use her to get around everywhere. I am very fond of this bicycle and we have not seen each other since last summer, so the reunion was joyful.
The more other classic city bikes I try, the more I realise just how unusual this one is. It is somewhat similar to a Dutch bike, but with a shorter wheelbase, lower bottom bracket, and a shorter head tube - allowing for the handlebars to be set lower. It is unliftably heavy, but rolls very easily and accelerates well. The fork has an insane rake that would make toe overlap impossible even in size 20 workboots. The steering requires a very light touch, or else the entire front end wobbles. Jacqueline always takes me a few minutes to get used to, but after that she feels incredibly natural. The bike is not effortful to ride long distances, and last summer I took 30 mile trips along the Danube on it easily.
The lighting looks ancient, but works just fine.
The rear folding baskets work perfectly for carrying my stuff. I feel like I have a system with this bike, and we understand each other. Given how heavy it is, I am not sure that it would work well for me in Boston. But it's perfect for the Vienna infrastructure.
Wolfgang has an extensive collection of old Austrian city bikes, and some of Jacqueline's friends were parked next to her when I came to pick her up. I was in a hurry, but I have my "good camera" with me here this time - so will try to take some decent pictures of Wolfgang's vintage bikes and his other projects. In addition to offering bicycle tours of Vienna, he recently started a company offering moving and delivery services via cargo bikes, and has recently opened up a cargo bike shop that carries nearly every single manufacturer of box bikes and longtails in existence. Hopefully I will be able to test ride a few.
After last summer, I did not think I'd be going to Vienna again any time soon, but I am glad to be back here. I will actually have some free time during this trip and much of it will be dedicated to bicycles. Among other things, I will get to try a bike with a Sturmey Archer duomatic drive, which should be interesting. And who knows, maybe I will even get to finally do my century, along the Danube. After all, my love of long rides began here.