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Prague to Vienna

You’re single—and looking. But you don’t want to go on some sleazy pickup trip.

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The Danube River and surrounding countryside.  

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The solo (don’t call them “singles”) bike tours offered by adventure outfitter Backroads strike a nice balance: On the one hand, hooking up is by no means expected. On the other hand, when you combine a group of athletic unmarrieds, Lycra, and lots of sweating, things can happen. One popular Backroads itinerary carries you and a pack of potential future tandem partners on a six-day trek through the heart of Old Europe, from Prague to Vienna.

The group meets each day at breakfast to carbo-load and review the day’s itinerary (the routes range from 30 to 50 miles daily; a sweeper van will pick you up at any point if you decide you’ve had enough). On the first two days, you’ll ride from Prague to the fairy-tale towns of Hluboká and Cesky Krumlov. The rides are gentle, pastoral affairs, rolling through the Czech countryside. On day three, you’ll pedal to Neuhofen an der Ybbs, in Austria’s Danube Valley, a jaunt that includes a memorable winding stretch through the pear-wine vineyards of Mostviertalweg. Days four, five, and six are spent rolling along the Danube into Vienna. Along the way, you can stop to tour Baroque abbeys like the one in Melk, and to visit historic towns like Dürnstein, where Richard the Lion-Hearted was captured by Leopold V and imprisoned during the Crusades. On the road to Vienna, you’ll spin through the Wachau wine region. Take time for tasting breaks: The Weingut Hirtzberger winery bottles an especially nice Riesling.

There’s no roughing it when you’re out of the saddle. U. Dobraka, a family-run restaurant in Cesky Krumlov, grills schnitzel on an outdoor fire pit (you may or may not be serenaded by gypsy musicians). At Blondel, in Dürnstein, the specialty is the chicken with cream sauce, and the grilled trout is fished straight from the Danube. One night, you’ll bed down at the Hotel Kothmuhle, a cozy family-owned country inn set in the hills of Neuhofen an der Ybbs; another, you’ll bunk at the Hotel Richard Lowenherz, a converted convent in Dürnstein with soulful views of the Danube.

The group atmosphere makes for a low-key vibe. After dinner, pair off if you want, don’t if you don’t. Note that all that time on a bicycle seat can make delicate areas very delicate. If you do happen to find romance, it may be best to proceed with caution.

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DETAILS
Backroads (800-462-2848; backroads.com). The Czech Republic and Austria solo tours run nine times between June 13 and September 12, 2004; $2,698 per person, all-inclusive.


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