"The Danube is mighty”

Passionate cyclist Martin Samek explains why he can only really relax on his bike and what the Danube region has to do with it.

When Martin Samek is tired, he first pedals hard. Then he cycles through the green hills of the Danube valley, sometimes for hours, until he dismounts back home and feels the way others do after a power nap - refreshed and full of energy.

Mr Samek, you are a family man, run the Nikolaihof ad Aeneas guesthouse in Martern and are the chairman of the Trailwerk Wachau association, an initiative that has developed and implemented mountain bike routes in the Wachau. And then you are an enthusiastic cyclist who sometimes covers hundreds of kilometres in a week. How does it all work out?

It's actually quite simple: if you do something with passion, you do it with ease. Of course, a working day can be exhausting, but that's what cycling is for. Others might lie down in front of the TV; I get on the saddle. This is my balance - that's how I recharge my batteries.

What is it about cycling that allows you to switch off so well?

It is certainly the undulating, recurring movements that put you in an almost meditative state. A competitive sport like tennis would probably not be for me, because my thoughts wouldn't come to rest. But when I pedal and look at the landscape, I can recalibrate, I am relaxed, and at the same time I can think more strategically. This gives me ideas that get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I think it's much easier to allow thoughts to arise on the bike. And, by the way, that also works for two people. When I cycle together with my wife, we can talk about things that would otherwise not come up. And then there is certainly the landscape, the beauty of the Wachau, which contributes to relaxation.

Is the Danube region a particularly powerful one?

Absolutely! The Danube is mighty, you realise that again and again when you travel along it. It is like a red thread that runs through the landscape. It guides you through the region. This is particularly advantageous for cyclists. You can drift along wonderfully, take paths you don't know and still always come back to the Danube as a point of orientation. That is wonderful.

What do your guests appreciate about the region?

Certainly the landscape, the gentle vineyards, the ruins and as far as cyclists in particular are concerned, the very well prepared routes. By bike you can comfortably reach the last corners of the region. This is also pure relaxation for our guests.

You grew up here, you now know every cycle path in the area. Are there still moments when the region surprises you?

You bet! During the season, we work so much that we sometimes forget the beauty of the Wachau. Then we ride along the Danube, get off the saddle and it almost blows us away. Sandy beaches, climbing rocks, picturesque villages. Suddenly we remember again the treasure we have here on our doorstep. And even if it may sound trite, it simply applies to our home. We work where others go on holiday. That’s a real privilege.

Which cycling hotspots along the Danube Cycle Path are not to be missed?

In summer, definitely the Rossatzbach bathing beach opposite Dürnstein, which is very romantic and not too crowded. You should also visit a wine tavern in Weißenkirchen and use the Danube ferry to get to the other bank. At the Aggstein Ruin, you can combine cycling and walking routes. If you prefer something more challenging, check out the Trailarea Göttweig, where we have built 12 legal mountain bike trails.