Total distance covered: 1146km
Total countries: 5 (this week: 1 – Still in Germany)
Weather: Very wet, rain, rain, rain ~ 16°C
Distance in the right direction: 208km
Distance in the wrong direction i.e. backwards: 38km (15%)
Hours in MacDonalds (the only place in Germany with free WIFI): 12hrs
Nights in Tent: 4/7
Slug infestations: 2
Acts of Kindness:
– Rescue missions: 1
– Coffees from strangers: 5
– Places to sleep: 3
– Souvenir gifts: 3 (Fire brigade badges, bracelets and a “Why to read the bible” book)
Total snickers Bars: 48
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Ch. 4
And with the rain comes bugs, slugs and slime…
One week of almost continuous rain and we can report that it is getting boring! The problems with cycle touring and rain go as follows:
- Getting out of the tent is the last thing you want to do
- Everything is wet
- No matter how great your tent is, it will flood
- You bike seat is wet
- Your waterproof trousers are not breathable and you create a personal steam room
- Your washing can’t be dried! Cycling shorts!!
- Your glasses (that you are wearing to protect your eyes from clouds of flies) steam up constantly
- All the slugs and snails hang out in the road so you feel continually guilty and zigzag around trying to maintain a low death count
- Your feet smell even worse
- You then climb into a muddy, wet and stinking tent with no way of drying anythjng
- And if you need the toilet in the night there is no point in bothering with your shoes.
- The slugs, snails, ticks, flies, crickety cricketers, spiders and caterpillars all hang out on and in your tent.
We visited the beautiful monastery in Maulbronn at about midday on Monday. And then set off determined to get close to Ulm and the Danube. But alas, we had both woken up on the forgetful, disorganised, clutzy, disasterous side of the bed…
Problem no. 1: after 20 minutes of cycling we establish that Julia has left her glasses in Maulbronn. She unloads, Beth relaxes on the grass and Julia retraced the route. Returning 30 minutes later with her glasses, we had lunch. It was 3pm and we had gone 6km. We then powered on and arrived in Niefern at 6.30pm, which unfortunately was only 17km away from Maulbronn.
Problem no. 2: in Niefern we visited a bike shop to replace our broken bike stands, where we established that Beth had left her wallet (cards, ID, 50€) at the spot she had waited for Julia. Solution? Hitch hike back and Julia wait with the bikes? Beth asked a fella in the street if he was busy and explained the issue. Next thing we know our disastrous day takes a turn for the better and we have an unexpectedly brilliant evening…
Roland (our rescuer) told us he had to be at the town fire station (Feherwehr) and to follow him with on our bikes. Once he dropped off bread and sausages he said he would drive me back to pick up my wallet. We then retraced our route (again) and luckily the wallet was still there in the grass. On return to the fire station, Roland offered for us to relax there and join the fire men for German sausage, bread, mustard, kartoffel salat (German style!) and local beer from the black forest. Not only did they kindly feed us and offer us shelter from the continuous rain but we could also leave our bikes there and stay in Rolands home, which funnily enough was very close to the site of the lost wallet.
Roland told us about his friend in Nepal and the devastation that they are facing. He’s been raising money to send out to them to support their village and we were pleased to be able to contribute and send our thoughts out there.
Also, another benefit was that we were up early for breakfast and for Roland to drop us in Niefern to collect our bike the next morning. So a nice early start allowed us to get up and down a few more hills than our track record for the previous few days.
Roland – we can’t thank you enough! Stay in touch!
The clouds overhanging the German landscape dramatically flung open their curtains on Saturday evening, marking the first day of the rain for the coming week (it only got worse). Luckily, this occurred whilst we sat demolishing a burger and discussing the fate of our bed for the night in Karlsruhe. Our fully laden bikes had a good wash and pannier bags test driven in the waterproof sense (they passed!). OK. Escaping the city and pitching a tent was out of the question. So, our other options… The cute waiter? He recommended a hostel… The policeman themed stag-do persuading us to party with them all night? Hmm, no thanks… Warmshowers!
Felix and Cloé responded to our very last minute warmshowers message and we sped off through the rain to their beautiful new home. We sampled fresh apple juice from local family grown apples and enjoyed a second dinner of spinach, Gouda from Holland and pasta – simple but, oh, so tasty! Chatting with Cloé and Felix and inspecting maps made a perfect Saturday evening. We got to see their new place shaping into a home and their inspiring creativity to make it so. We especially loved the old glass globe that had been made into a light!
After Sunday’s breakfast, featuring homemade jam, we hung around making the most of WiFi. We became increasingly distracted and next thing we knew it is lunchtime and we were learning how to make spätzle (see recipe #..) After lunch, more faffing, etc, etc, we set off and to our delight Felix joined us too! We had gone 4 days wild camping (= no luxuries) and were very grateful for a shower, a bed, refuge indoors and company that was not our own.
That night we pitched up our tent near Maulbronn (accidentally adjacent to a railway, way to go guys) and whipped up tortellini and pesto in our Titaner pots and MSR stove. Just in time for another torrential down pour. And thus the week of rain begins!