- 205020 km on the bike
If you read about my other journeys, then you probably know that I usually have the tyres of my trusty old Triumph Tiger replaced at an excellent dealership in Bavaria. This time I have been convinced by a fellow biker to give a Swiss dealership a chance. That was a bad idea, as I find Kitty with a flat front tyre just three days after they did the job. As I took my wheels by car to the dealership, the tyre at the time of the puncture has an overall mileage of exactly zero point zero on the clock. And I thought the shoddy tyre-job by those morons in Colorado in 2007 when I was biking that part of the world could not be topped. Well, one never stops learning new things on this planet...
I bring Kitty to Hans and his ingenious mechanics just two days before my vacations begin and have them fix the tyre as well as the other minor things that are wrong with the bike.
This Thursday is another one of those religious bank holidays in Switzerland. The weather forecast isn't very good and everybody is out on the roads today for a long weekend, so I just pack my panniers to be ready for tomorrow. Just in time I also got my new helmet camera properly installed, so you can expect me to hopefully place a lot of video footage on this page. I might not have the time to always do the upload during the trip itself, so some footage will probably only appear after this journey is finished.
- 205020 km on the bike
On Saturday I finally set out north towards Germany. There is a 40-minute queue at the motorway border crossing into Germany near Lindau. Luckily my favourite border point into The Fourth Reich is not the motorway. Instead I cross the Rhine River which forms the border at the village of Diessenhofen. The road in front of the old wooden bridge is closed for traffic due to construction works, but I manage to get over to the other side thanks to skinny Kitty.
Biking through the area, the Swabian Alb, brings plenty of déjà vus; even 250 km into Southern Germany I still come across many road sections or buildings I recognize - a sure sign that I have biked a lot here recently.
The weather is near perfect all day, the bike runs excellent and all my gear including the helmet camera is working fine.
Just to prove my point, here is a video I made today with my helmet-camera. You will especially enjoy this if you are at work at the moment or at home during a rainy weekend - this is what I love to do:
Near Kirchheim unter Teck the air is crowded with gliders. At one stage I see nearly 50 of them together in one thermal. Must be competition week. That is like biking with 50 motorbikes on the same stretch of road. I have a hearty lunch break there and generally take it very easy on this first day of biking. But after just over 400 km and only 8 hours biking I am severely knackered and call it a day at Margetshöchheim near Würzburg The place is sitting directly on the River Main, but I am too tired to really enjoy the view.
- 205450 km on the bike
Bright sunshine coming through the windows wakes me up at 7 am. This looks like another day in bikers paradise. South of here it is supposed to get sweltering hot with thunderstorms in the evening. But I am heading north and there it is supposed to be just right for biking.
I continue along the river for another 20 blissful miles and then head on north into the forests and mountains of the Spessart. I still know many of the roads here, but the area is nevertheless great biker country.
Next comes Hesse, which lacks the forests of the Spessart but these rolling hills and open plains are also good biker country.
At Lippoldsberg I reach the Weser River, which I cross in style on a small ferry. The ferry is a clever thing which uses two springs on a steel cable to bring the vessel back and forth without requiring any engine power.
Soon I enter the flat countryside of Lower Saxony. Most people associate flat countryside with boring, straight roads. But in this parts of the world where the roads were first created by Roman legions or medieval ox-cart drivers things are very different; the roads curve left and right all the time for absolutely no apparent reason. I can only assume that both the Roman soldiers as well as those ox-cart drivers were drunk as skunks when they first came along here. For me however their apparent wine and mead addiction is to great advantage.
Just along the way, near Eschershausen, I pass the motorcycle museum at Wickensen Manor - it would be a shame not to stop and have a look. Aside from a comfy beer garden they also display an impressive collection of German motorcycles, mainly NSU vehicles. The old barn the museum is in is rather chilly, which makes it an excellent stopover on a really hot day.
Hanover and its surrounding area is a great place to find a place to stay for the night. That is, of course, as long as there are no exhibitions ongoing. Hanover is a major exhibition city, so outside exhibition times accommodation is plentiful, good and affordable. During exhibitions free rooms are nonexistent and it is not unusual for the local hotels to be booked solid more than one year prior to a specific exhibition. As a rule of thumb you can assume that there are no exhibitions between mid-May and early September. Thus I find a nice place in Hotteln, just 15 minutes drive from the exhibition centre. The owners are still knackered from the last spring exhibition (LIGNA, lumber machinery) which just closed last week, but a lonely biker is always welcome.
- 205820 km on the bike
I slept like a rock and feel just like some more mileage. The sun is shining and after a quick breakfast I am back on the road by 9.30 am.
Soon I reach the Elbe River which I cross just a few miles east of Hamburg and then head further north into Schleswig-Holstein. I am surprised to find that this province is not entirely flat. It is not mountainous, but the long climbs together with the sharp sea breeze probably come as a surprise for many of the TOWIST* coming up here to molest the regular motorized traffic.
Many roads are lined by trees and it is a lot of fun to bike around here:
In the evening I arrive at the town of Grossenbrode, located directly on the Baltic Sea and opposite the island of Fehmarn. Like many towns living mainly of tourism there are a couple of nearby 1970's concrete hotel bunkers built right on the beachfront. I don't really like those, so instead I find myself a decent room at the Landkrug hotel and restaurant in the village centre - they have won the counties gold medal for best food the last three years in a row, so where else would I stay?
- 206160 km on the bike
I took a break day here at Grossenbrode today, just relaxing, walking through the village - I generally spent the day like Louis XVI spent the evening before the French Revolution, when he wrote into his diary just the word "rien".
Next day I am doing four hours of hiking instead of eight hours of biking. The countryside here is full of hidden treasures: old, thatched cottages, an endless blue sky and all nature at its best. Here are two examples of the sights one finds along hidden backwater alleyways:
Below is the usual map with my GPS tracklog.
* TOWIST is a term I heard used in New Zealand: this stands for Traffic Obstacle with suicidal tendencies. It is a term used for that kind of pushbike riders that bike naked except for some bright-coloured and highly flammable garment, wear no protective clothing at all except a silly plastic tortoise shell on their heads weighting about three grams, have no lights or rear mirrors on their contraptions and not infrequently overtake motorbikes on downhill roads. TOWIST´s have a complete disregard for their own safety as well as the safety of anyone else on the road.