Day 24: Koblenz to Cologne

108km, flat – the biggest climb today is a bridge

We had a problem with the flagging as we left the hotel and ended up going the wrong way, left and right along the river. Eventually we worked out that the flagging was wrong, ignored them, and headed straight, and then turned towards the river and picked it up further down on. We found out later that at least 10 of the other riders had the same problem.

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Crossing the Mosel River at Koblenz

Mostly today the riding was on bike paths, without a lot to see apart from fields, canals and the occasional village.

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Andenach

We went through one town with a lovely waterfront, so we stopped and took a couple of photos.

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Bad Breisig

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Bad Breisig

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Bad Breisig

Coming out of the town we went up and then under a railway pass, there were three young boys sitting on a bench. As we were looking for which way to go next, one of them pointed left. Given the amount of touring riders, he must have had to do that a few times in a short timeframe.

We went past an old house that was built in 3 sections, the earliest in the 1300.

As we went along the Rhine we had one cruise ship “Ms Emily Bronte” keeping up with us. I googled the ship name later and found she has only been sailing since Feb 17. 

Today we only saw a couple of castles, unlike the past two days.

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Boy on his bike on the river bike path.

When we got into Cologne, we found we had to go to another hotel to store our bikes, in Hotel Martin across the road. It was a huge hotel that had shops in the foyer.

The WIFI is hopeless, I can not log on and will probably have to find somewhere to send emails. Probably the number one frustration on a trip is if you can’t get WIFI. First world problem really.

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Arriving in Cologne

Brett and I went to have dinner at El Chango, the number one steak place on trip advisor in Cologne. It was pretty delicious. The steaks came in 200 gram to 500 gram with sauce, baked potatoes and vegetables.

To start we had a beer, which came in the smallest beer glasses I have ever seen. Apparently this is to keep the beer fresh. Then we had a nice Argentinian Malbec red.

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At the Argentinian Steakhouse

We are staying at Hotel Malzmuhle, which is apparently also a brewery but it is shut today. There are photos of Bill Clinton on the wall, apparently he stayed here.

When I got back from dinner thankfully I managed to log onto the internet, which was lucky as the next day there were still people who had not managed to log on.

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Riverside at Benthurm

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Day 23: Mainz to Koblenz

101 km today, all flat

We have stayed in 3 IBIS hotels this trip, and this one has a new rule that you are meant to automatically know about. When you get breakfast, you are meant to use a tray, which most people did as it easier. IBIS is the only place that had trays, but at this IBIS after breakfast you are meant to take your tray to a rack at the side of the restaurant, and place it with the dirty dishes on it. We were unaware of this, and also where the rack was, until Tim tried to leave the restaurant and the waitress blocked his way until he had taken his tray to the rack!

As we have been riding through Germany we have noticed that as you come out of the towns there are lots of little garden allotments with small sheds, growing veggies and sometimes flowers. There are often chairs and children’s toys. These must be for people who live in apartments and have no gardens. Not sure if they buy them, lease them. or go in an allocation draw.

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Small private gardens just on the outskirts of German towns.

About 30k into the ride today, suddenly the cyclists were no longer using the bike lanes and were all over the road riding 3-4 abreast. I was concerned to see a small child aged about three riding at least 300 meters in front of her parents on a main highway. Then I realised the road was closed. I later found out it’s an annual event, the last Sunday in June the road is closed both side of the Rhine for 65 km from Rudesheim and Bingen to Koblenz.

There were hundreds of cyclists on road bikes, mountain bikes, tandems, and trikes with carriages containing children and pets. Skaters, Segway riders, the occasional serious cyclist trying to get in the weekend training, and one lone jogger . There were Grandparents, families, and teens, interspersed with biking tourists.

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Both sides of the Rhein roads closed to traffic for 40km. Great riding with thousands out.

Also on the way into every town they had cake stalls, small markets, and beer stands. A very carnival atmosphere.

 

There were lots of ships going up and down the Rhine, carrying coal, scrap, containers, cruises and small boats. There were a number of the ships carrying scrap and coal pushing another ship carrying the same. In one instance, one was called Bermuda and the other was called Triangle.

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Bermuda / Triangle

The stretch we are riding is the upper middle Rhine river, a 65 km stretch is a UNESCO world heritage site as it has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Castles were built on the river to get a toll from the passing boats.

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Castle on the river at Stolzenfels

There are 40 hilltop castles and fortresses built over a 1,000 year period in this 65 km stretch, and 65 villages. The steep hillsides have been terraced and growing grapes for 1,000 years. Many are ruins as they were either abandoned, or destroyed, and left as picturesque ruins in the 17th century wars. The 19th century onwards has seen restoration and reconstruction taken place. Even railway tunnels had castle designs on the outside.

On archways into towns there is documentation of previous floods, the worse being 28.11.1882, where the flood nearly reached the top of the archway.

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Rhens town gate showing Rhein flood heights over 200 years.

At the Lunch stop you could see two castles just from where I was sitting.

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Lunch stop at Sankt Goar an der Loreley.

Next to the lunch stop the local fire brigade were doing their part for the local fundraising, and were selling Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake).

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Me and a 🔥 man.

At 61 km, we went past the rocks of Lorelei where legend has it the ghost of a young woman, who leapt to her death in the Rhine, sits and combs her golden hair and sings and lures seamen to their death.

 

One one house on the river bank there was a statue of a stork on the outside with tiny baby clothes hanging next to it, and the date of the arrival of the new baby (Pepe).

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New baby (Pepe) arrival.

We went off the road to one very pretty village called Oberwesel to have a look around, and got talking to couple of self touring riders called Louise and  Brian from Norwich. They started in Switzerland and are finishing in Amsterdam. Brian had two water bottles on his bike, and a wine rack made for bikes from Topeak.

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Louise and Brian from Norwich, UK.

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Town of Oberwesel

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Town of Oberwesel

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The narrows at Oberwesel

We are staying at yet another IBIS, so dinner was at a restaurant not the hotel. As we were walking to dinner, there was a group with man in a wheelchair moving very slowly in front of us. I checked no one was on the adjacent bike path, so we walked out to go around the group. As soon as we did a German couple raced up to us, the woman with her face screwed up like she had just sucked on a lemon, and had a go at us for being on the bike path. I suggested perhaps they could get a life.

At the dinner we were crammed into the corner of an otherwise empty restaurant, but were not allowed to sit at any of the other tables.

We had dinner with John W, Graham, Yvonne, and Scott. Dinner was asparagus soup (we think. If not it was possibly potato soup), hard fried chicken, and a nasty hamburger pattie (I didn’t eat it), and white rice which I also didn’t eat, and chips. Dessert was ice cream. I had sparkling water.

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Riding through Boppard

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Day 22: Heidelberg to Mainz

101 km, 150 meters 👍 up

Yvonne is better and back riding. Poor Graham is not looking forward to be confined to the truck.

Thankfully there was no convoy out of the city. Not long into the ride we went past the city zoom and they have glass fences into a couple of enclosures. In one of them was a nest with storks – adults and babies . It was really great to see storks again.

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Stork chicks on the nest at Heidelberg Zoo

We followed a range of bike paths for the day, through fields and villages, and then the most of the rest of the day was along the river Rhine.

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Negotiating some single track

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Rheine village

The path was often very uneven with cobblestones, which are hard to ride on. We saw a number of river cruise ships, and other river ships carrying coal and oil and scrap metal. The ships were going approx 20 km/hr, so we often kept up with them for quite awhile.

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Rhine River traffic in Neirstein

There were lots of sandy areas on the river shore, and lots of people having picnics along the shore. There were a number of other cyclists, quite a few doing self supported touring.

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Riverside village called “Worms”

Just after the lunch stop, we had to ride across some fields and then change to another bike path. Just at the intersection there was a house with lots of ornaments, a seat covered with knitting, and a bike with a knitted jersey.

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Cosy bike

Riding along the river the path weaved in and out, at times right by the river and at other times running parallel through fields. Brett was riding in front and he followed the path round a hedge, I followed him and was nearly hit by a car. The car had swerved to avoid Brett and crossed over to my side of the road. I wrenched my bike to the left, and gave my sore arm a huge jolt which was quite painful. Thankfully no other damage.

We left the river and rode through a town, and then came out into a vineyard that we rode through for the next 10 km, it was beautiful.  Apart from the bit we were riding on, it was very hilly and the grapes were planted in terraces stretching up the hills. They had a number of tractors with covered carts on the back that seated about 10 -12 people, full of people wine tasting. You could hear the people laughing and could see a number of these winding their way up the hill. It looked like fun.

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Coming through the vineyards approaching Mainz.

The last 15 km was back on the river, and then through the town to another IBIS hotel. Thankfully a slightly bigger room than yesterday.

There was a building over the road that had a large grass roof. On the list of chores for the owner: mow the roof!

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Mainz township – building with grass on top

We had dinner at a place around the corner from the hotel, as IBIS doesn’t serve dinner. I had dinner with Brett, Judy and Tim, Ed, John J, and Cathy. Dinner was Liverwurst soup – it looked horrid and tasted nasty and didn’t eat it; a lovely fresh salad; and totally unexpected: a really nice piece of salmon with sauce, spinach and rice. Dessert was ice cream and strudel. I didn’t eat the strudel as the one in Croatia has spoiled me for ones that are not as nice. Sparkling water.

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Mainz

Introducing

John H is from Victoria, Canada. He is a retired ED doctor who worked in Seattle. He is married and this is his second TDA ride.

Ed is from New York, he owned Liquor store, is retired now. He has no children and has done one TDA ride before.

John Hemm

Dr John H and Dr Peter H were both at Med school together

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Edward and Brett: Heidelberg to Mainz

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Day 21: Rest day in Heidelberg (23 June)

I enjoyed lying in, feeling a bit tender after yesterday’s ride, so am very pleased to have a rest day to recover.

At breakfast we were told that Graham is ok, but has a broken bone in his face and will most likely not be able to continue riding. Graham is going to be discharged from hospital later today. Caught up with Yvonne, and she is feeling much better.

After breakfast we looked at getting the hotel to do the laundry, but it really is only an option for people who just want a couple of items done. I worked out to get mine done it would have cost €70! So off we walked to the laundromat. To do both of ours at the laundromat it cost us €18 combined. I always take my iPad and do a bit of of catching up with the blog.

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Rest Day chores

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Laundry price list from the hotel

This morning before breakfast, I had a messenger call with my 11 month grandson Jasper, and daughter Tracey. Jasper was very excited to see me, and kept trying to get into the iPad where I was. The day after I get home is Jasper’s first birthday celebration.

Walking through the city I noticed the number of apartments that have trees and shrubs on their balcony.

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Shrubs on apartment balconies

I have also noticed the increased rate of smoking, the cigarettes on display, cigarette advertising, and also there are a number of cigarette machines on the street in the villages and cities. I was a bit surprised as was thinking children could use these, but apparently you have to put ID with proof of age in before you can purchase.

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Street cigarette machine

After doing the laundry we had a drink at an outside cafe with John W, and then decided what do to for lunch. John wanted pasta, and Brett and and I decided on a picnic. We had a lovely lunch with a baguette roll, blue cheese, brie, small cake of dark chocolate, and a Bordeaux wine (we actually wanted a rosé, but there was no chilled wine to be had, so settled on the red). It was very relaxing to just sit and do nothing for awhile. Then back onto catching up with emails and the blog.

At 6 pm we went down to the hotel bar for a beer, while we waited for a couple of Brett’s friends from a previous tour, who we were going out for a meal with. As we were having a beer, Graham turned up looking bruised and battered. Graham has no memory of what happened, but there was no car involved. Graham suspects he hit the curb the wrong way.

He remembers coming to and having two locals helping him up. They asked him if he knew where he was and he said no. They then said “You’re in Germany, doing a bike ride from Athens to Amsterdam” (They got this off his riders plate on his bike), and he said “Don’t be stupid, why would I be doing something like that?”.

Graham is not sure what he will do as he has broken a cheek bone around the sinus, and is not allowed back on a bike for a couple of weeks. While a group of us were talking to Graham, Janice came in and I took a photo of him and her “The concussion twins”.

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Graham and Janice – the concussion twins

Also in the bar were Tim and Judy, also from Wellington NZ.

Just then Brett’s friends arrived. They met on the Aussie section of 2014 Trans-Oceania. Lydia is originally from Townsville, Queensland but is now living with Joachim in Germany. Joachim is German. Lydia is working as a Librarian and Joachim works in IT. They are both keen marathon runners and triathletes. John W also did this ride, and came for dinner. We went to a really nice Thai place, I didn’t get the name. I had tom yum soup – it was nice and spicy, and green curry which was very nice.

Then back to the hotel to pack and get ready for another 3 day stretch.

Introducing

Janice is from Townsville Queensland and this is her first TDA ride. She is retired, she worked as a student advisor counsellor at the University. Janice’s partner was going to come on the ride, but couldn’t get a health clearance to do it, so is doing the pilgrims work in Spain instead.

Tim and Judy are from Wellington NZ, they have 3 children and a labradoodle and a poodle. This is their second TDA ride. Tim is an actuary and Judy is a mother. They are heading off to Cuba for another two week ride after this trip.

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Tim and Judy

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Day 20: Schwabisch-Hall to Heidelberg

The original schedule for day 111 km, but now thanks to Gergo’s new cycle path book it is 139 km. It actually ended up being 150km but will get onto that later.

We climbed 864 meters up, it felt way more, and went down 995 meters. To make it worse, Gergo had said after 14 km it’s all downhill and it wasn’t, and we were riding in a heat wave.

Yvonne is still unwell and is going to take the train to Heidelberg, Maureen is going to go with her. It was tempting to join them, and later in the day I regretted that I hadn’t.

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Departing Hotel Goldener Adler

The first 3 km out of town was very steep, then we followed a bike path through field and forest trails for another 11 km, at times a gentle gradient and others steep, but also some downhill.

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Hard climb at the start of the day to Waldenburg

We then had a steep path down to a main road, which we were on for about 5 k then it was back on the bike paths.  At times we would come out onto the road, ride a few metres, go up another bike path and climb up a couple of kilometres, then come back to the same road, not much further than where we had left it!

The paths go all over the place and a lot of time was wasted working out which way to go. The other issue is often they have quite sharp built up edges, and you have to be careful which way you hit them when going from one path to another. I unbalanced a couple of times, but managed to un-click my shoes and put my foot down so I didn’t topple over.

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Feeling puffed!

Once again on the paths we went through a mixture of fields, forests, alongside roads, through forests on all types of surfaces, and through towns. At one stage we were winding through one village and we came along a windy narrow path and went straight through an archway in an old castle.

The villages are so picturesque it’s like being in a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, and so many castles.

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Hirschhorn

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Neuenstein

At about 70 km, we had to go through a rocky forest track, the surface was unpleasant and I kept jarring my arm. We came out to a clearing where a man dressed in red stopped us and said we couldn’t go past, as they were clearing a dangerous tree. He told us to go back to the town about 6 km away and detour around! We asked how long before we could get past him, and he said an hour and a half!

We sat down to think about it. So frustrating as we were less than 5 minutes behind Cathy and Janice, who had got through ok. The distance we still had to ride, the heat, and the thought of either one and a half hour wait or going back down the horrid rocky road was too much, I cried. Thirty minutes later we decided we were going to do the detour, as there was no guarantee the wait would only be another hour. Just then another couple of other riders, not part of our group, showed up and they decided to wait.

Back down that horrid road, through town, and along the other side of the river. 12 km after we had left we passed the spot we had been stopped on the other side of the river, and we could see the two other riders still sitting there.

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Over the Neckar River at Neckargetach, before the road block!

We stayed on the main road, with a nice 1.5 metre wide shoulder, for about 10 km then managed to recross the river and pick up the planned route again. Looking back I don’t know why we didn’t stay on the main road. Most of the next 25 km was uneven surfaces, and a few spaces were really unpleasant, as I kept jarring my arm. Lots of other bike tourers were coming the other way. We went past a seat on the trail made out of a huge tree.

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At 14 km before Heidelberg, we crossed onto the main road and had 8 km of downhill, then through a village and then on a bike path along the river.

There were some stunning views coming into the city: huge castles, churches, bridges and old buildings. In the city there are bike paths through town, sometimes half of the footpath, and sometimes running along the side of the road. The walkers keep off the bike paths, and traffic gives way! Such a novelty.

We finally got to the hotel at 630pm, tired, hot, and grumpy. We are staying at an IBIS, which would win the prize for the smallest room ever. The shower was so small you could barely fit in it, and the door banged against the toilet. It was a mixture between a small cabin on a ship and a prison cell.

It was also on the outskirts of town, with homeless people living under the bridge next to it. Our view out the window was rail yards.

By the time we had had a shower we just wanted to eat and sleep. But, the hotel had no restaurant! By this time we were full of joys of the day.

Only option was to go out. In the lobby we caught up with Janice and Gregg, who told us that Graham had had a pretty nasty fall at 39 km, had knocked himself out and was in hospital. It was nothing life threatening, but they were going to keep him overnight for observation.

Janice and Gregg were going to an Italian restaurant back in town, but we decided to look for something closer. We walked the other way past a group of drunks on the sidewalk, and there really wasn’t anything. The IBIS is located right by the main train station, so we went in there, but it was all food hall type of food.

There was one restaurant called the Metropolitan near the hotel, which we had discounted when we first saw it, but by now it was 730pm so we decided to go in. The barman bought us a beer, but when we asked about ordering food he said he would send his colleague.

After 15 min Brett went to the bar and was told “Yes the colleague is coming”. Another 15 minutes later I went up to the bar, and he said he would get his colleague to come!

I was getting close to tears for the second time in a day, when the colleague finally came. I was going to order pizza, as I couldn’t face more tough meat, crumbed and covered in sauced. But it turned out the pizza oven was broken! Not wanting to give the colleague the chance to get away and possibly not come back again for another 30 plus minutes, I chose a burger and chips. The barman came over and apologised that his colleague had taken so long to arrive.

Janice and Gregg arrived at the restaurant, the one they were going to go to was full and so were the others they had looked at, so they came back looking for something closer to the hotel. Thankfully the barman, seeing they were with us, decided he could take their order without the assistance of the colleague, and their meal arrived only a couple of minutes after ours. The burger was pretty basic but at least it was food. By this time it was 930pm – time to sleep.
Nekar

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Day 19: Dillingen an der Donau to Schwabisch-Hall

The original schedule for today was 111 km, but Gergo has got a new book of bike trails in Germany and so now we are still going from the same start and going to the same destination, but the distance has increased to 129 km.

Today we climbed 546 meters up 688  meters down.

One of the riders Yvonne is not well so she is taking the bus, hopefully this won’t be the start of another bout of gastro throughout the group.

Not long after we left, I saw a huge weeping willow tree, and was thinking about how they were my mother’s favourite tree, so couldn’t resist stopping and taking a photo.

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Today felt more like a navigation course than a bike ride, with some bike paths only going about 200 meters before having to change to another path! We spent a lot of time figuring out which way we should be going, the flagging was not good and often conflicted with the notes. It was a hot and frustrating day.

The bike paths went through fields, through towns (at one stage through an archway in a barn!), through forests, saw a couple of castles and monasteries, and we went along in the baking heat along side roads.

We went over some bridges that had roofs, which is to stop the bridge getting covered with snow in the winter.

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Bridge with a roof

Going along one forest path, a black squirrel ran across the track in front of me.

We stopped at about 80 km and had a cold drink with Peter and Catarina who were there already. Catarina decided today to ride from lunch with Peter when he got there.

Unfortunately after what had been a long and hot day already, all the climbing was at the end of the day. We had some quite steep bike paths, and then 10 km from the end we could not work out which direction to go.

I went into a supermarket to get a cold drink. So no cold drinks so bought one anyway, then paid and the checkout clerk barked something at me, when I didn’t immediately answer, he barked it again 3 times in a row. I said “English?” so he said it again about 5 times each time louder!

I am not sure why people think if you don’t understand the first time you will get it if they keep saying the same thing over and over, but louder each time! Finally he angrily points to the receipt!  And I shake my head, I don’t want it! By this time Brett has worked out which way to go.

More bike path, then a steep climb up to Schwabisch -Hall. What a pretty town. Sadly we only have time to shower and change before the riders meeting and dinner, as I would have liked to look around.

The town is having some type of performance tonight (turns out it’s a play) and there are rows of chairs set up outside the hotel, and the stage is the steps of a church with a small platform facing the square. We are told that if we have a room facing the square we are not to look out the window, or have the window open! Plus the door to the hotel will be locked from 7pm to 11pm, so no after-dinner stroll around the town.

The hotel is a beautiful old building, with no lifts. When you walk towards the stairs the old doors open automatically which you don’t expect. The stairway has lots of old pictures, plus rows of books for guests to read.

The room is really big and looks right out onto the square. You have to be a bit careful walking, as there is a definite slope from the window to the other end of the room, where the bathroom is.

We had dinner with John W, Ruth and Peter E. The restaurant had made up a special menu just for us – mixed salad, nice and fresh with a light dressing; chicken with croquettes, and a token piece of round carrot as the vegetable; and Ice cream and apple.
Washed down with a cold beer and then a merlot (or 2).

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Special menu for us

After dinner it was so hot in the room, of course I opened the window! Then I poked my nose out to have a quick look. Would you believe there was a man in a red outfit, whose role was to stand in front of the hotel looking up, and as soon as I looked out he saw me and started making angry gestures! So I didn’t look out the window again, but I didn’t shut it either. I was pretty tired, so the noise of the play didn’t keep me awake.

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View from our room

Introducing

 

Ruth and Peter E, both retired and live in Toronto. Ruth was an Air Canadian flight attendant, and Peter an investment broker. This is their 3rd TDA ride, they did the TransEuropa for their honey moon in 2014.

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Ruth and Peter E

We stayed at Hotel Goldener Adler

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Day 18: Munich to Dillingen an der Donau

We had 120 km to ride, with 577 meters up and 690 meters down

We have one new rider who joined us in Munich – Catrina – who has come to ride the last section with her husband Peter M, who has done the whole ride. Peter has done one other and Catrina did a section. They are from Seattle and have two children. Peter is an ED doc (he examined my wrist) and Catrina is a pathologist. Catrina is riding a bike she bought here and has not ridden it before.

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Peter and Catrina

To start off today was the dreaded convoy, for 14 km. We did not leave the hotel until 8:20am and it was after 9:30am before we were free to ride off by ourselves.

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Convoy out of Munich

Lots of bikers commuting to work, lots of them parents with babies and toddlers in carriages, front and back seats.

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Frustrating I had a message from the the blog editor just as I was leaving, to say she had never received the blog for 12 June, but she did get my short version of the notes I jot down in the iPad at the end of each day.  No record in my sent box, very annoying as I remember doing it, it had quite a lot of detail. Never mind I will have to do again. Nowhere near as frustrating as in Bolivia where I lost 10 days worth, that were sent and disappeared into the ether, also with no trace in my sent mail.

About 30 km out of Munich, we came to Dachau concentration camp memorial garden. This was the first of the concentration camps and the model for later camps. Overall 200,000 people (Jews, political prisoners, and other so called ‘undesirables’)  were detained here from as early as 1933, and 40,000 died.

Today we are mainly on bike paths. I was looking forward to getting onto bike paths and away from the traffic, however they were frustrating as within the space of 10 k you can change paths 5 times, and it was starting to feel like a navigating challenge rather than a bike challenge.

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Bike path Altomunster

During the day we rode through many fields of crops, through farmland, and through shady forest areas. We also crossed the Danube River (which I did not notice at the time as it was only a stream).

25 km from the end of the ride we had a thunderstorm, huge drops of rain pelleted down, but it was so hot it was a relief.

The traffic here is such that they are happy to stop and give you the right of way, even when it isn’t yours, they even stop on the highway when they can see you are struggling to cross. No tooting or monstering you from behind (sitting right on your back tyre almost).

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BMW headquarters

When we got to the hotel we were a bit underwhelmed by the exterior, not helped by the scaffolding as it was being painted. It was a tired old place, but the staff were friendly and it was clean.

Dinner was delayed as one of the riders was not in. It turned out it had taken Peter and his wife until 4pm to get to lunch (65 k) and then Catrina got the lunch truck, and Peter continued from there. It was just after 7pm when he got in – a long day!

Dinner was potato and ham soup, crumbed Pork with croquettes and sauce, and dessert was Ice cream Sundaes. We had dinner with John, and mine was washed down with copious glasses of cold sparkling  water.

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Aichach

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Aichach

We had a balcony, but it looked out to a yard and was too hot to go out into. No aircon again, and once again very hot trying to get to sleep. Plus there was quite a lot of noise – it sounded like people jumping on the floor or banging on the walls. Once I fell asleep, I slept quite well.

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Hotel Dillinger Hof balcony

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Day 17: Rest day in Munich (19 June)

During the night I got lost in the bathroom! I went in and closed the door, and the light was on the outside! As I was half asleep I was disorientated, and it took a few moments to realise that if I could feel the toilet, then the door must be right in front of me.

The room, whilst it had no air con, it did have good black curtains, so I didn’t wake up till about 7am.

I went and had breakfast and spoke to a few of the riders who were leaving, and then caught up on some emails, the news, and the blog. As we had only be riding two days and the next segment is only 3 days, we decided not to do any laundry as we have enough clothes to last.

Then I headed off with Brett (we were joined later by Graham) to the Hofbräuhaus House, for a steins and sausages. The litre stein is so big it took two hands to pick it up and drink.

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Hofbräuhaus Brewery

There was a walking tour, that most of the TDA riders seemed to be on, filing past us making comments about NZers and Aussies and beer. The hall was huge – it seats 3,500 people! There was a traditional band playing, luckily only in short intervals as they were very loud.

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Hofbräuhaus Brewery

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Outside Hofbräuhaus Brewery

Then it was time to go back to the hotel and have a nap to wear off the effects of the beer. I am finding it really hard to remember to watch out for the bike paths that are half of most of the pavements. The bikers ride really fast, and you could be seriously hurt if you were knocked into by one.

On the way back we stopped near the hotel at a handmade ice cream shop called “True and 12” and tried the ice cream. It was ok but I didn’t think it was as good as the ice cream you can get in NZ. This was the only time we came past when there wasn’t a long queue. Last night when we were riding into Munich, there were about 35 people queued along the street.

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Pots and Pans Reindeer (Editor’s note: This is all the information I have about this picture)

For dinner, we went to an Afghanistan restaurant called “Chopan – am Gasteig” which was close by. The dish I had was “Qabili Palau” which is the national dish, it was fantastic, very nicely spiced.

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At Chopan – am Gasteig

We had a bottle of Rose with it that was very drinkable, plus two bottles of sparkling water.

Then back to the hotel to get ready for another hot night, even with the window open, and another’s day riding tomorrow.

Introducing 3 TDA staff:

Caitlin from Canada is the bike mechanic for the trip, plus rides sweep or does flags
Balaz is from Hungary, his background is IT and economics. He is usually on the lunch truck but sometimes is sweep
Ozgur from Turkey, his background is an engineer, who does the either flags or sweeps, and occasionally does the lunch truck.

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From left: Caitlin, Balaz, Ozgur

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At Hofbräuhaus Brewery

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Day 16: Garmisch-Partenkichen to Munich

103 k to ride with 409 meters to ride up and 603 meters down

95% of the day was on bike paths. The paths ranged from paved, to rubble through forest, fields along lakes, and towns.

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Bike path along Lake Starnberger

The last 25 km into Munich there were hundreds of bikers. These ranged from mountain bikers, families with babies in seats or carriages attached to the bike, other touring bikers, individual riders of all ages and sizes, and a number of them going really fast.

Along river Isar coming into Munich, there were so many people swimming and picnicking along the banks. About 25 km there was a raft full of people drinking, playing loud music, and even a barbecue on board.

A number of the cyclists were going really fast weaving in and out between other cyclists. It was the first time I have been more concerned I will come to harm from fellow cyclists rather than a car!

Some paths on the way in were steep up or downhill and some were very rocky rocky, and I would get off and walk. One bit you had to ride up over a bump, between a gap in the fence, which other riders seemed to be able to do with no trouble. I of course had to get off and wait for a gap. I commented to John W that I would never make a mountain biker, and one mountain bike rider who had waited for me to come through was laughing and agreed.

We got to Hotel Holiday Inn at 2pm, and the rooms were not ready so Brett, Graham, John and I (later joined by Tony) waited in the bar with a cold beer. This is Tony’s first TDA ride, he is from USA and is an organic farmer and hobby wine maker.

Riders leaving in Munich are Tom and Miriam, Walker, The Sydney Aussies (Tony, Kerry, Robert, Torpe (in the picture from yesterday with Daryl. Torpe is retired, he used to own a kitchen ware and related goods, store his real name is also Robert), Alex and Daryl), and Tony from USA

Interesting I was also somehow on the list as leaving the ride in Munich! I was asked when I wanted to box up my bike! Just as well that was quickly sorted, as otherwise I may have had no accommodation tomorrow night!

We had Dinner at restaurant called Wirtshaus In Der Au. First we had a wheat lager beer called Erich Sattler it was really nice. Then we had a Wine called Cronos red, with the house speciality which was Duck and pork crackling dumplings, sauerkraut, and gravy.

We had a really friendly waitress who had hitchhiked from Invercargill to Auckland, and commented that many friendly NZ males were happy for her to stay over at their places. I’m sure this had nothing to do with the fact she is young and pretty.

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Waitress at Wirtshaus In Der Au

Two weeks later I am still wearing plasters on two of the bites from the second riding day. I suspect they were sea lice which I reacted badly to, at least I don’t seem to be adding to the list of afflictions.

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A home on the shore of Lake Starnberger

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Day 15: Innsbruck to Garmisch – Partenkirchen (aka GAP)

64 km of riding, with 815 meters up and 666 meters down

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Today’s ride

My arm and wrist is very painful today, which is most likely because like an idiot I stopped taking anti-inflammatory as I thought I no longer needed to take them. I am back on them now.

The first hour of riding was along flat bike paths, and we rode 21 km. The next 20 km took two and a half hours! This was spent pushing the bike up 17% gradients with slippery gravel, riding when able to and and pushing my bike down hill, with rockslides, gravel and some steep gradients.

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Pettnau, Austria

At some point we crossed into Germany, some of the other riders said it was when we went through a field full of cows with bells.  https://www.facebook.com/tdaglobalcycling/videos/10154728790261314/?pnref=story

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Tidy farmhouses in Krün, Germany

There are lots of other cyclists going both ways on the bike trails, some are friendly, some look like they are having a horrid time, and some ride two abreast and only swerve at the last minute back into single file, which is a bit nerve wracking.

The last 15 km on was mostly tar seal, so despite the 2 1/2 hours to do the 20 km we arrived at the hotel at just after one pm, to find the rooms were not ready. We got changed and walked into the city centre to catch up two of the riders, Daryl and Alex, at an Irish Bar. The Irish bar had the most amazing view of the Dolomites.

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At Garmisch- Partenkirchen – view of the Dolomites in the background

When we arrived the TV was on, playing the NZ national anthem then the Maori All Blacks did a Haka. It was quite nice hearing and seeing it over the other side of the world.

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Maori All Blacks on the TV at an Irish Bar

I had a lager and Brett had a Guinness and got given a bag of Guinness chips (or chippies as we call them), they were seriously delicious.

Daryl is one of the Aussie 6 from Sydney, and had been here a couple of weeks before the ride doing training. Daryl does ultra marathons where it goes over three days. Day one swim in the ocean 10 km and bike 150 km, day two bike 240 km, day three run 84 k (2 full marathons). Daryl is in his late 60s and the last one of these he did was last year, and he currently holds the record for his age group. This explains his incredulous look when he saw me sitting outside the hotel when he arrived. “Take the truck did you?” he asked, and when I said no he wanted know where I had passed him (the Aussie group stopped for coffee at the top of the second 20 k). Daryl is retired but was a stock broker.

Alex is also one of the Aussies group from Sydney, he is the oldest in the group at 74 but is a very strong rider, and often leads the Aussie peloton. Alex is also retired and had a career in some sort of advertising.

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Alex and Anthony

On the way back through town we stopped at a Chocolaterie called Amelie, it was amazing – so many different types of chocolate, and so many tasting platters! Yum!

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Chocolaterie Amelie

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Chocolaterie Amelie

Back to the hotel for a shower, and then we went to dinner where we had the most unfriendly waitress ever, and she stayed consistently unhelpful and unfriendly for the evening.

 

Initially I was sitting with Jeff and Dianne, Robert, Graham and Brett. However it was so noisy, and there was quite a long wait so Dianne and Jeff left to eat elsewhere. Robert is one of the Aussie 6, and I never got round to getting a photo of him. He is a psychiatrist who works both in private and public in Sydney.

Dinner was a nice tomato soup, followed by mushy vegetables and tough chicken, with lovely mushroom sauce, and fried potato medallions. Dessert was fresh fruit and sorbet, all served with a frowning, unfriendly waitress. The waitress asked where Jeff and Dianne had gone, and I said they were having problems with the noise and hearing. Her response was “People with hearing problems shouldn’t travel in groups”.

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Jeff and Dianne, with Miriam (in high vis)

Tomorrow we get into Munich, the end of this stage. A number of riders finish here, including Anthony the cardiologist and his wife Kerrie who is a maternity nurse, who provided assistance when I had the tachycardia the first day riding. I had been planning to get them a bottle of wine all trip and finally did so today. I gave up trying to explain to the wine waiter that I was buying it for another table, as I wasn’t getting anywhere, so just ordered it and when it arrived I took it over to them.

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Kerrie (left), and Torpie and Darryl (in blue shirt)

We are staying at Mercure Hotel.

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Editor’s caption: I received no caption for this photo. Nor is there any mention of it in this blog entry. However, I am doing my due diligence and including it here for your enjoyment. 

 

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