Crossing Germany with a tricky bike called Gail
July 29, 2015

I’ll start with some stats: we’ve just reached France having covered 1283.24 kilometres, ascended 5371m and burnt 35,000 calories each since we left Budapest 12 days ago. 

Having reached Germany it was evident to ourselves and those around us (within about 20m) that quite simply, we stank. A hostel was duly located and booked to provide us with somewhere to freshen up before the next section of the ride across Germany. Luckily for us our hostel turned out to be a prime spot, located in an old fort above the town (I’ll leave out our feelings towards the 22% hill we had to go up to get there) and had everything we needed including cheap beer. After an afternoon of sorting our kit and cleaning everything we enjoyed lunch at a cafe and rested up before our planned departure the next morning. 

9am the next day we left Passau into distinctly depressing weather, managing only a few kilometres before we were soaking wet and thoroughly miserable. It was going to be a long day. With no real reason to stop though we pressed on and by lunchtime had covered over 60km. By late afternoon we’d hit our target of 100km but with nowhere to pick up dinner anywhere nearby we carried on for a 20km stint, eventually finding ourselves both a supermarket and a secluded spot to camp. As we sat eating our dinner, a man who evidently owned the secluded spot arrived and we prepared ourselves for some intense questioning. Thankfully this never materialised and he encouraged us to camp there for the night and simply questioned our “lack of women”. Hmm. 

Up early the next day we pointed ourselves towards Regensburg and having relocated Jon who managed to get lost whilst in sight of the rest of the group (a long story, one for a cafe/pub) we arrived in the main square and bundled into the nearest cafe for a short rest. We ended up staying for a while thanks to a kind Swiss couple who took pity our scrawny figures and bought us some cake! We also watched a ceremony for the laying of “stumbling stones” bearing the names and a short biography of those people who had lived in the building who were forced out of their homes and killed in the concentration camps of the Second World War – apparently thousands of these stones and laid across Bavaria every year. 

Cycling on from Regensburg we battled the 30mph headwinds to reach our 100km aim where, rather conveniently, a pizza restaurant was located that became our temporary home for the next two hours before we found ourselves forest to set up camp in. Avid readers of the blog will know that our weather forecasting abilities are yet to be demonstrated and yet again we were soaked by a huge thunderstorm in the middle of the night. 

With our excess water on board we trundled on the next morning through Ingolstadt and up into the hills. Feeling the lack of vegetables I naively opted for a “wurstsalat” for lunch which as it turns out is just a mountain of slicedsausage and some onion – but very tasty so no complaints here! Yet again we battled into the headwind to reach a campsite for the evening but our efforts were supported by an eccentric German man who commented that the wind was “shizer” and gave us chocolate to try and mediate the pain. 

From there we made our way through flocks of sheep, past the largest church tower in the world, left the Danube, found new respect for McDonald’s which have offered us shelter from the rain and continued towards the French border. As we began our first big climb, Gail (Marcus’ bike) decided that enough was enough and our day was brought to an abrupt and rather mechanical halt as the rear dérailleur separated itself from the frame, wrapped around the spokes and the entire bike ceased to cooperate. Luckily Jon “the man with a plan” Durbin was on hand and the bike was soon converted to a round-town single speed. Evidently we were not around town and were instead trying to haul 20kg of kit up a 2km, 12% climb. However Marcus “legs made of” Wood had the power to make it up, and for the remaining 60km of the day. 

Monday was set aside to locate a bike shop but despite a round-about route taking in a lot of the region a Caad8 rear mech hanger was hard to locate. It ended up as a 100km day and following dinner we headed back out of town to find a place to camp. Gail wasn’t having any of it. Another “crunch” was the result of a bent cassette – Marcus has massive legs. We walked/rolled on and found a field for the night

That brings us to today. Marcus headed to Strasbourg on the train and we cycled there through the Black Forest. Despite the risk of bears, we climbed for 16km to 965m before screaming down a 9km descent in just 12 minutes. Rounding a corner we saw the view open out in front of us and looked over towards France, the next country on our route. 

Eventually we reached the border itself and savoured our last German beer before cycling across the bridge and into France

Onwards towards Metz this afternoon!