GERMANY PART 1: 01. -17.06.2003

Route: Limburg, Nürnberg, München, Mittenwald

Distance: 997 km (623miles)

 
Depature: Today is the day that it all started. At 11:30 am we left Limburg Linter half an hour late, which was commented: “You’ll never be able to catch up”. Of course we couldn’t miss shedding a few tears. By the way, the nice banner is from Anke and Conny; it’s almost like on TV. Accompanied by Ulli Werner and wife, as well as Peter, we left for Weilburg, the goal of our first stage. To strengthen our tour guide we had to make two rest stops in Runkel and in Fürfurt. We had to more or less push our bicycles up the steep hill to the Weilburger Schlossplatz (that will be quite some fun on our Mountain stages).
 
Unfortunately, the major had to go to another appointment, so that one of his associates officially greeted as farewell during the Wine festival. Besides a bottle of red wine, which wie were presented with and which will be kept for us until our return, we also received the Weilburger Löwe (the lion mascot of the Hessentag). He will accompany us on our journey until the Hessentag in 2005. Just in time for the Hessentag, we will sent him back to Weilburg, where he will be auctioned off for our charity. Then they exchanged our accompanying team and so the last 15 km we were accompanied by Mareike, Sandra, and Alex. Hard to believe, but after 3.5 hrs, we tiredly, but happily reached Leun (1.Stagegoal). We averaged the 57km long stage with nevertheless 17km/hr; which is faster than we expected.

 
Monday morning, everything was almost as usual, since we were at Nadines Mom’s house (it was her birthday), yet the mood started to change. After breakfast, we left towards Wetzlar, which meant the end of my Mom’s birthday, as my sister told me later. So Mom, I am sorry, and I love you, and don’t worry so much. The rest of the day went without problems; a small thunderstorm during the day and in the evening during the assembly of the tent right outside Bad Nauheim. Contrary to expectations, we got used to our baggage relatively quick, so that on the test ride, after the montage of my new saddlebag holder (after one week), it seemed really funny and shaky without the bags.
 
With an unbelievable sense for precision, we have managed to put up our tent besides a highway or railroad track every night, after riding in the quietest countryside all day long :-)) Nevertheless they were very nice spots to spend the night: near a pondlike Main bay near Lohr on the Main, a Cherry tree meadow near Bergreihnfeld (Schweinfurt), and not to forget the Retirementrest between Bamberg and Strullendorf (at the Main-Donau Canal). It included table, tablecloth, soap dish, towel, and flower bed, really exciting!!!

 
The natural lake in Arnstein (free entry fare and free shower) which was good for our body hygiene, was really nice also. On Saturday afternoon, after a total of 508 km, we safely and happily reached our first bigger stage goal Nürnberg, at about 3 pm, with a slightly painful bottom (especially Nadine). Technically we din’t have any bigger problems except the bicycle trailer was squeaking e few times and the gas cocker (Optimus Nova) decided to constantly clog up and only decided to function again after a complete cleaning. If anybody had a “burning” idea, please let us know.
 
The two days in Nürnberg were a feast for our bellies. Thanks to the hospitality of my parents (Martin’s) I have gained 2kg (4.5 lbs), what is not just the result of the yummy food, but also a result of immobility. On Monday the 9th of June, we had a small Farewell party with family and a few friends. Thanks again to Martin’s parents for all their work and the excellent hospitality. We spend Tuesday morning, buying a new saddle for Nadine and the montage of the newly delivered spare parts (rear view mirror and a new kick stand for Martin). In the afternoon in the excruciating heat we hit the road again.
 
Besides riding we are mostly preoccupied with refreshing our food and water supplies. Daily, we spend many hours seeking and riding to grocery stores, to go shopping. Because of the new cash refund system that we now have adopted, every shopping experience turns into an at least 30 min ordeal that usually goes like this: After we have found a supermarket, parked our bicycles, one of us (usually Nadine) travels into the air-conditioned shopping tomb, while the other one (usually myself) has to wait outside in a hopefully shady area (86 degree F) to watch the bicycles. Inside of the store the tedious search for 1.5 Liter water bottles (no cash refund bottles) begins; which depending on the grocery store only cost 25 cent plus another 25 cent cash refund. It becomes difficult when the store managers are fed up with the new cash refund system and shorthanded have taken all of the disposable products off the shelves. Then, if they do not have Volvic water (1 Euro plus cash refund) we are out of luck, because carbonated water is an extreme fun to try to transport on a bicycle, especially when the just acquired water starts shooting out of your water bottle after a few kilometers. Having solved our water problem we still have to get our necessary food, just to get into a gigantic line a t the register, which always seems to form right then when we are shopping. Back outside of the grocery store we have to refill our water bags (special water bags by Platybus) if it is carbonated water we have to try to remove most of the carbonation by shaking the bottle prior to filling our bags. The reason for filling our bags with water at the grocery store lies in the new cash refund system, since disposable products can only be returned at the same store that they were bought in. Usually that may not be a big problem, yet if you are on the road, the Supermarket that you could return the bottle at is already 30 km (18.75 miles) behind you; hence the need to refill. After refilling our bags, one has to get back into the gigantic line at the register to get the cash refund back. Watching the bicycles during this procedure isn’t boring either. Almost every time during the waiting process other shoppers become aware of our bicycles. Soon, a conversation is started and we learn where different people traveled to on their last bicycle vacation. I am always amazed how many people (especially retirees) spend their vacation on a bicycle. Because of the hot and humid weather we have a water expenditure of about 9-12 Liters (2.3-3.2 gal) a day, so that we have the pleasure of this shopping experience about 2-3 times a day.
 
On the Altmühl, we tried to drive on our Faltkanadier (foldable canoe) for the first time. Assembly and loading time 1.5 hrs. The Altühl is senically most inviting, yet the river seems more like standing water so that we decided to get back on our bicycles after only 10 km (disassembly time 1 hrs).
 
Cleverly, we left behind some of our gear in Nürnberg (gas for the cooker, bicycle map for southern Bavaria), but not to compensate for the kilos we gained :-) While we were still able to re-buy a map in Augsburg, yet it only had a small section, so that we had to fend our way without map until Landsberg on the Lech. As fate wanted it, exactly that part of our journey, was relatively badly marked, so that we blindly yet unexpectedly successfully rode towards our goal. On top of that the weather seemed to want to proof to us that 12 days of sunshine were more than enough, and sweetened our morning with a thunderstorm and rain (it lasted 3 hrs).
 
Today we arrived in Munich after 14 days on the road. Nadine’s Aldi bicycle shorts, which already flew in the trash in Nürnberg, were finally replaced with comfortable new ones.
 
In Munich, we were deliciously invited from Bärbel and Tina (friends of Martin’s).For now, Munich was our last chance for a roof over our heads and easy access to a washing machine. The next morning, after a generous breakfast, we went straight into an Internet café. Luckily we were allowed to take our bicycles inside. After I finally understood how to log into the server, I realized that I did in fact have a USB-connection for my memory card, but they did not have a way to use it. So I had to retype the entire text again and do without the pictures for now. Contrary to expectations, the entire visit was relatively cheap. We only paid 1.70 Euro for two hrs (with good downloading times). In the afternoon, we rode along the Isar until right before Bad Tölz. Since, commonly known in Germany, all stores are closed on Sundays, we had to find new sources for water which we finally found in gas stations and fountains. The next morning, we stopped at a little bicycle- and telemark-store in Wackersberg (look at that), to retighten the bottom bracket (it started to make popping sounds). Equipped with two new water bottles (thanks Sepp), we continued south.
 
As fate would have it,everytime you don’t have a map, the bicycle routes are a badly marked. Everything happened right after Lenggries. The road split to the right the road went up the hill again and to the left the road seemed to lead flat along the Isar, after carrying our bicycles over a fallen down tree trunk. The decision was easily made, after previously having had to ride up a few hills. We took a left. Sadly the road got rougher as we went and after about 6-7 km it ended right in front of the Isar.

We were confronted with 3 choices: 1.Go back (always kind of dumb) 2.Assemble the boat and paddle to the opposite shore (disadvantage assembly and disassembly time which is about 2 hrs) 3.Carry the bicycles through the Isar to the other shore

Again, we decided relatively quick and after a trial wading of Martin’s (without baggage), he gave the green light. That meant to take off all the bags and carry them one by one to the other shore. That may not sound that hard but it was bone crushing work.
The about knee-high water was freezing, which I barely noticed because of the hard labor. To make it more interesting, add a relatively heavy current, which really made the traverse a torture. Altogether we had to go across six times. Because I only trusted the Vaude bags to a certain extend, I held them up relatively high and got a cramp in my upper arm, so that the bags fell in the water after all, which proved that the bags were waterproof after all. On the other shore, we were greeted by applauding spectators, yet none of them offered help (sad but true). After we got everything on the other side and back on the bicycles we still had to push the bicycles through 200m (about 200yards) of 10cm (about 4 inches) tall gravel, and to get back to the road we had to take all the bags off again and carry everything up a 10 m high ( about 10 yards) embankment.

 

GERMANY PART 2: 26.06. - 02.07.2003

 

Route: Kiefersfelden, Prien am Chiemsee, Burghausen, Passau

Distance: 308 km (192.5 miles)

 
Now we were back on our bicycles (in Austria we spend 2 days in our canoe on the Inn) and spend the next day with paying the producer of our bicycle trailer a visit. At this chance, they very friendlily repaired a few defects. Thank you again for the fast and uncomplicated help.
 
Even Burghausen(on the Salzach) we won’t forget that soon. It all began with a surprise rain shower during dinner at a very nice swimming lake behind the fortress (by the way, with 100m length (0.625 miles) the longest fortress in Germany). “Won’t be that bad and stop in a minute”, is what we thought and so we decided to take a swim in the lake. In the meantime the rain turned into a full-blown thunder storm with extremely hard rain. Hastily we tried to put on our rain-gear (rather futile, because we were already wet) and rode underneath a gateway. There, we struck up a nice conversation with a couple (he wants to ride to Australia on his bicycle one day), who I gave one of our business cards. During the following search for a night camp we followed a bumpy trail (cobblestone) along the Salzach and tried not to get discouraged by the “Caution Falling Rocks” signs. The hard rains caused mud avalanches instead of rocks to fall, the valley that the Salzar winds through mostly consists of sand right here. Because of the strong rains we did not get up until 11 am the next morning, when we noticed that besides the sunscreen that was gone, my wallet was missing also. The sunscreen had fallen off the bicycle had fallen off together with Nadine’s bikini top close to were we spend the night (the trail was really bad and bumpy), but the was no sight of my wallet. After I couldn’t find it anywhere on the entire way back to Burghausen the only other possibility was the lake. And again fortune was on our side and the cashier at the lake had found it the night prior under the gateway (must not have put it back right after taking out a business card) :-) Nice that there are still honest finders. In the meantime it was noon, so that we decided to make it a rest day.
 
After all the trouble of the past few days we reached Passau today. Now we are finally leaving Germany for the next few years…

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