• Retro cycle tour "In Velo Veritas", Weinviertel / Laa an der Thaya

    In Velo Veritas: Enjoy the Ride on a Retro Road Bike

    If you like cycling, flea markets, and a good glass of wine, read on! "In Velo Veritas" is the classic tour that draws hundreds of cyclists and their retro road bikes to the Weinviertel every June for a one-day ride of 70, 140 or 210 km.

    What began in 2013 is now Austria’s largest vintage cycling tour. This is not about athletic triumphs – it is an ode to serenity and enjoyable renunciation, and thus a dream created by bike enthusiasts for like-minded people and open to everyone.

    Rolling Hills and Sweeping Fields

    When you head out of Vienna towards the north-east, you are initially leaving a lot behind. The hustle and bustle of the Ringstraße, the coffeehouses, the art, culture, and music. Up here in the Weinviertel, there is nothing but wind and space at first glance.

    Only once a year, in mid-June, when the not yet ripened greenish-yellow corn sways in the fields and the grapes in the vineyards are but the size of a pin, the chirping of the cicadas is intensified by the creaking chains of bikes from bygone days.

    In Velo Veritas leads three routes of different lengths through this landscape in north-eastern Austria, a region that has been spared from mass tourism. Highlights include the Marchfeld palaces – aristocratic residences, mostly from the baroque period, with their large estates – and the wine cellar lanes as part of the Weinviertel’s cultural landscape. The routes change every year and are laid out by the organisers in the winter months.

    The Non-Race – A Way of Life

    "The gentle hills and their distinctive features as well as the local people convey this special way of life. This is a region where’s it’s all about slowing down; the counterpart to our fast-paced times. The almost meditative cycling and intense experience that goes with it is a logical consequence. It’s up to us to discover the 'truths' of the Weinviertel and allow these experiences to have a lasting effect", describes Horst Watzl, one of the In Velo Veritas organisers, the retro cycling event’s philosophy.

    Watzl is the cultural manager – and an amateur randonneur, i.e. a long-distance cyclist. Fascinated by historical routes and inspired by events such as the "L’eroica", the mother of all retro cycling tours, which attracts thousands to Tuscany every year, Watzl launched In Velo Veritas in 2013.

    Retro cycle tour "In Velo Veritas", Weinviertel / Laa an der Thaya

    There is generally no timekeeping here, so stress remains behind the starting line. "The social side of things comes before the competitive one, which is what sets In Velo Veritas apart from other events," explains Watzl. "There is a colourful mix of ages and abilities, and our proportion of female participants is said to be the highest in the world," the head and soul of the event continues, adding: "Most cycling marathons have a female percentage of 7 or 8, while we most recently had 30."

    Leisurely Enjoyment

    "Leisurely enjoyment" is the motto of the Weinviertel. Food and drinks play an important role here, of course – you’re in the "wine district", after all. "But energy drinks and gels have no place at In Velo Veritas," says Horst Watzl.

    Instead, the Weinviertel hosts at the many refreshment stations en route like to dip into grandma’s cookbook and offer bread with savoury spreads, hearty dishes such as roast pork with dumplings, and pastries to keep you going.

    Sparkling grape juice quenches the thirst, but it would be rude not to try one of the fine wines from the local cellars as well.

    Culinary delights - Brettljause

    Thanks to the non-competitive nature of the event, there is plenty of time for everyone to eat and drink. Breaks can be as long (or short) as you want them to be. And nobody will raise an eyebrow if you stop for a chat en route or to take a selfie in front of the breathtaking backdrops that the Weinviertel provides.

    No matter how quickly you pedal, In Velo Veritas means slowing down, pausing, and rethinking consumption habits, too – because new material is hardly ever bought here. "All the essentials – from the road bike to the 1970s jersey – are brought along by participants", Watzl explains. And should anything be missing, irresistible bargains (and new like-minded friends!) can be found at the In Velo Veritas flea market.

    Winegrowing area Falkenstein
    • It was the aesthetics that made Franz from Lower Austria a lover and collector of vintage bikes. "From the moment an elderly gentleman cycled past me on the main square on a perfectly restored, shiny black Waffenrad bike, I was transfixed. And I wanted to have a bike like that myself."

      Nowadays, Franz is constantly working on collector’s items, as he loves "tinkering" as he calls it, repairing and restoring old bicycles. Many historical parts have passed through his hands, which he gave new life to for friends and colleagues. One example would be a bike frame that competed in the memorable 1936 Olympic Games.

    • Another participant is Doris Passler. When she managed public relations for Velocity in Vienna, the world’s largest cycling conference, several years ago, her bike was stolen, and she needed a replacement for the daily commute.

      Road bike enthusiast and historian Richard Hollinek, one of the communication expert’s business contacts, gave her a "Select" ladies road bike. "It was love at first sight. And I’m not just talking about the bike," she remembers fondly. Doris and Richard have been a couple ever since and enjoy taking part in In Velo Veritas together.

    • "We are one big family," says organiser Horst Watzl. In Velo Veritas is "modest and personal" and should stay that way, making it stand out from many other vintage tours that have long since become mass events.

      But the organisers are happy for it to grow and attract even more international participants. So far, there have been cyclists from all of Austria’s neighbouring countries, as well as from France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Serbia. Now the organisers are looking forward to every further nation that adds to the wonderful variety of the group.

    The Gear

    Participants must ride on classic road bikes with steel frames and free-running cables, built before 1987/88 with downtube shifters and without click pedals. Combined with a classic jersey and cycling cap and you’re good to go.

    The organisers are not that strict when it comes to clothing, only when it comes to bikes. If you don’t have a suitable one to call your own, there are various sites to hire one online and offline.

    Where there’s a will, there’s a bike … 

    Retro cycle tour "In Velo Veritas", Weinviertel / Laa an der Thaya

    Vintage Is Sustainable

    Last but not least, In Velo Veritas is as good as CO2 neutral. Many participants form carpools from Vienna, and some travel by train. If the three routes are not long enough to get you sweaty, you can also arrive by bike – thus adding a further 70 km from the centre of Vienna, as Horst Watzl suggests with a smile.

    One thing’s for sure either way: the more you cycle, the more rewards you will gain. The rabbits and buzzards, the rolling fields and vineyards, the wind and the space – sensory impressions that resonate with the whirring of the sprockets and remain once the road bikes and their riders have left again, until the next In Velo Veritas.

    Retro cycle tour "In Velo Veritas", Weinviertel / Laa an der Thaya

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