Deutschland Part 1
A rough start, then some company through Germany!
Puttgarden to Hamburg
Day 33 of riding | 126 miles | 203 km | Ascent: 850 metres
Beautiful towns, villages & friendly people, but the surfaces were only good if you like breaking every part of your bike, or falling off, a lot.
Tough call: the cycle path, or this 'road'...
It started with giant cobbles for a road, with the cycle path being bricks (who came up with that one?!), in a sweet & historic village called Burg auf Fehmarn, then lead to thick gravel & through grass. Ditching my pre-planned route via 'cycle paths', I looked up & headed towards nearby roads, which apparently included a muddy farm track. Argh! With no way back/no time to go back on myself for miles, I continued, to get to the bridge off this northern German island. Somehow the route (which I think I plotted from google maps) did not connect with the bridge, but took me beneath it, in mud, then inches deep gravel, where I skidded & fell. Cracking start to the day.
Soft landing at least!
Eventually things improved, & a lot of effort to include cycle ways alongside roads has been made, which is great, although every few metres the tarmac is buckled upwards & cracked. Legally you must be on these paths, but after my pannier hook snapping (therefore leaving my luggage hanging off after every bump) I would stick to roads, & get the occasional angry beep.
More navigational issues & frustrations later, through heaving crowds along the Timmerdorf beach front, I went through the stunning Lubeck.
Keeping in touch with my upcoming companions Rachel & Richard, it seemed Rachel (who was also riding through north Germany today) experienced the same issues, amplified! Ending up on a thick sand track, she fell & had the extra luck of her whole rack breaking off...
I believe the rack should keep your items upright...
Into Hamburg through thick traffic as darkness appeared, I avoided the lumpy, busy pavement we're supposed to use (pfft!), & Rachel & I met at an apartment. Our next companion told us he had decided to drive to Germany from northern England, after his A&E night shift. Whaaat!
Our fleeting visit to Hamburg...
Rachel & I spent the next day doing errands, including stressing over how we were going to cross this country comfortably!? & mapping a brand new route to cover at least 100 miles per day on hopefully decent roads.
Overwhelmingly happy at supermarket vegan options in Germany!!
Blueberry muffin soya yoghurt. Amazing...
- 19th July - 22nd July 2017
Hamburg - Soltau - Hannover - Kassel - Frankfurt
Days 34, 35, 36 & 37 of riding | 473 miles | 761 km | Ascent: 3,346 metres
Stuck on the cycle path Rach noo!
I have friends!
Many streets are lined with a multitude of colourful flowers
The routes we cycled were a combination of picking random towns to 'town hop': constantly following signs for these, & also using recommendations from the German cycling organisation (ADFC).
Rachel & I were incredibly pleasantly surprised - no bike-breaking surfaces! Amazing!
The roads improved the more south we went, as we passed away from the thick traffic, via the most picturesque preserved half-timbered housing.
Rural flat lands, cute villages, & the odd forest became our regular vistas, as we progressively cycled southwards to more hilly land.
Entertainment included Richard's regular ventures either onto grassy curbs at full speed (always intentional, of course), or into the back of poor Rachel (a daily occurrence). Of course there was the constant time pressure, which I tried to ensure we were always aware of, hoping that this didn't lead to a negative feeling, but would allow us to stop arriving at campsites after dark & without enough time to even sleep 6 hours!
Overall，these days were a lesson for everyone. Richard, having never cycled this daily distance, was keen and motivated to give it a try, and Rachel had just had her own first long distance bike adventure doing some hundred mile days across the Netherlands.
Doing 200km per day with heavy loads is definitely possible, but in order to have enough recovery/rest time after each day, especially if you need to cook, shower & set up tents, efficiency is key. If every stop turns from 5 to 20 minutes, or even an hour, over 12 hours of riding that is time that you have now lost from your sleep tonight. The lesson for me was sharing my experience & skills from my trip so far, being patient, but also learning that compromising sleep gets too exhausting.
At least we always saw pretty skies at sunset!
Safe to say that we were all quite sleepy/feeling rough by the end, but I really hope they enjoyed this venture, despite trying to rush all the time. I really enjoyed their company & had some lovely conversations.
The first night, we were so delayed that we arrived at a campsite in the dark, in a lightning storm, just before 11pm; despite this, I had to smile, feeling grateful that I was in the company of people who just get on with it, embrace it, enjoy it.
Pretty cool mist
Other small events included:
Seeing a snake!
Meeting a local man in a shop who said, "Ahh, you're English? Where's the bomb?"...
Being followed up a hill by a cyclist who, speeding past, started pushing rachel & her bike upwards as a joke (rude! ha). She was glad to hear he was on an E-bike - cheater! Ha ha!
When my broken pannier fell off, once again, & I begun taping it to my rack, I was extremely touched by a local elderly women. She stood on the road corner, gazing over at me, "Caput?" she said. I tried to indicate that I had tape, so it was ok. She disappeared, & eventually reappeared, hobbling towards me with a gentle smiling face, & some string in her hand, gesturing towards me. I couldn't help but well up inside!
Midnight picnic with Gabi!
The final day with my two new compadres, we were joined by the amazing Gabi. I met Gabi whilst working as a medic on an mountain ultramarathon called 'The Spine', where she came 3rd woman.
She met us at Kassel campground the night before, & as we arrived extremely late, prepared a vegan picnic for us! She then cycled with us the next day, charging ahead up the hills, & indicating for us to go ahead if she ever stopped， even for food. This forced everyone to be very slick not only with their cycling, but with any breaks off the bike.
A generous & tasty meal was waiting for us after a big 131 mile day on the bike, thanks to Max, Gabi's lovely partner.
End of another stage!
37 ride days
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