Southern Germany

Leaving the campsite, everyone warned me about the hills. I’d had a sampler at the end of the previous days ride.

Markus, Thomas had both said it’s going to get hilly and that my target to Ingolstadt was a tough one.

A quick descent to Pforten. Easing the brakes on the way down after overheating yesterday.

A Lidl, pronounced leedel in German and a Sparkasse bank. More money obtained and some snacks I set off again. Upwards. And then more upwards. The upwards were broken up by brief downhills. Losing the hard worked for elevation.

I went off my route. Not normally a problem. I use a compass to head back. This time the route turned into a track, then a thin path. Eventually I had to get off and push the bike up the gravel path. Putting the brakes on after each shove, not to lose ground. I was too stubborn to turn around.

When I reached the top, I came out behind some disused overgrown garages. Had to find my way back to road which lost most of the height I’d just forced myself up.

Another stop at Netto, a German discount supermarket. I was able to put three plastic bottles into the recycling machine and out it spat a €0.75 token. More water and cake and I set off again.

The rest of the day involved climbing a hill to descend, and then climb the next.

Another break in a village with three ponds. I sat up high watching the carp enjoy the hot weather.

Could sit and watch carp for hours. Where’s my rod.

I was heading for a town about 52 miles from the start. It was becoming clear I wasn’t going to make it. I entered a large town, Plauen. And while looking at my map a German couple came over to see if I was ok. I explained I was looking for somewhere for my tent. They explained there was nowhere near. There was a Jugendherberge or youth hostel. The kind chap walked me to it. I started to walk and he said to ride and walked briskly beside me.

Once I’d been booked in. I let the chap know. He was waiting outside to make sure all was ok.

The guy on reception said he had a free single room. €39 including breakfast. I asked for a beer as well, that was another €1.50. After he’d asked me about my trip, he gave me another beer free of charge. Lovely!

Free beer and a warm welcome!

I enquired where was good to eat. He said it depended on what you liked. As I’m in Germany I’d like to try German food. He took me outside and pointed across the street to a beer garden and explained this is where a lot of local people eat and drink.

Menu at biergarten

A quick shower and I made my way over the road. There were lots of bench tables , mostly full up. A large queue to get food or beer. I joined the end and it gave me a chance to see the menu and work out what I needed to ask for. Checking google translate to come up with a couple of the words I didn’t know, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. As I’d ridden a lot of steep hills and couldn’t make my mind up, I decided I’d order both!

As I reached the front of the queue I said “currywurst mit pommes, schnitzel mit brot und halber litre Weiss bier bitte” great they took my order. Than asked me a question. Damn. Nearly did it. I resorted to saying “Entschuldigung, ich bin Engländer” sorry I’m English.

The lady than switched to English and explained she needed the table number.

The food arrived after about 20 minutes. I didn’t think that was bad at all. The place was exceptionally busy. Wow. It definitely hit the spot!

Couldn’t decide just eat both

After dinner I went for a walk around Plauen.

Plauen centre

It was a lovely warm evening and surprisingly unbusy everywhere else.

Plauen centre … a bit later.

After a good nights sleep I went for breakfast. Two large portions of oats with chocolate on top and I was set for the off. The elevation profile looked horrendous.

I was pleasantly surprised. The hills were long and not too steep. Easy to get into a rhthym. The descents were also long and sweepeing. No need to hang onto the brakes. Compared to the previous day I started to enjoy the climbs. The previous day was 500 metres of 16% followed by the same descent with twists and turns. No chance to relax on the downhill. Riding up through the trees, lots of black flies buzzing round my face. Not enjoyable.

My route was taking me into Czech. Border crossing number 8, and back out again into Germany again. Number 9! I was only in Czech for about 30 miles or so.

About to change border.

The roads changed less well built to start with. I took a break in Aš for coffee, by a fountain.

The roads improved to Cheb. Some nice old buildings.

Went past a gentlemens club. A bit different to the one that I’m a member of. Might be an idea to improve membership numbers.

Club this way

Wonder whether we ought to contact them regarding a twinning program?

Interesting gentlemen’s club in Czech

And a McDonald’s. Well it have been rude not to.

Coming out of Cheb. I saw a couple of ladies, very well dressed stood by the side of the road. Not far from the German border. Last time I’d seen ladies like this was in Spain.

I finished the day at a campsite back in Germany. Having covered over 60 miles and feeling much fresher than the day before. Giving me a chance to shower.

Welcome to the campsite

Make some curried sausage pasta and chill out.

Mmm one pan curried sausage pasta.

Drinking that second bottle of beer from the previous night.

On waking, I had two days to reach Ingolstadt to meet Max. 114 miles to go on a fully loaded touring bike with temperatures reaching 35 degrees. I love a challenge.

First 15 miles went quickly, quick stop for bread and lemon curd. It’s easy to eat and keep a stop to a minimum.

Next 20 miles and it was getting to 35 degrees. I stopped at an oak tree that was offering shade. Batted off the ants, flys and wasps while I had more bread, a chocolate brioche and made a cup of tea. I didn’t care it was hot. I wanted tea to go with what appeared to be a gallon of water.

Sat under a tree at 35 Celsius waiting for the kettle to boil

While I was making the tea and it being a Sunday. a procession of old tractors went by. Sundays I seem to see lots of old tractors and/or lots of old fire engines.

Old tractors driving by

30 or so miles to go and a McDonald’s appeared. Well it’s rude not too. Chicken burger, fries and a coke. With a spare chicken burger for later. All for the price of €5.95.

As I went through one town. They were having their towns annual festival. I stopped briefly to listen to the music. Tables were laid out and lots of beer available with hot dogs and currywurst. A couple of girls were playing an acoustic set on stage.

Acoustic music

I could have easily spent a few hours there with beer and currywurst. But if never have gotten going again! I think this is something I need to look up when I get back. And possibly plan a long weekend around visiting one of these. They look great fun!! Max later explained that the region he is in grows all the hops in Germany. They have a big festival.

Another festival sign

I’d planned another campsite in Regensburg. a larger town. Camping was at a kayaking club. Price was €10. Beers were €1.50 from a chilled vending machine.

I also noted the rings on the bottle, indicating they are being reused. I have not seen this since Africa. Where I also visited a large brewery and watched how they clean the bottles, inspect them for integrity and cracks at very high speed. And then reuse. It uses a lot less energy than making a bottle.

Reused bottle. See the rings from processing.

I tried to get a second beer. It just wouldn’t accept my 50 cent coin. So I pulled the return coin lever. I spat out loads of coins. It was like I’d hit the jackpot on a fruit machine. I put money in again and bingo. I’d started out with €1.50 for a beer. Now I had a beer and €1 left over. Winner winner!

Getting a beer from the vending machine

I’ve seen lots of things on tour that I just cannot understand why we don’t do the same in the U.K. I wonder if anyone on government looks at what other countries do and then proposes we steal with pride the same ideas?

While sat chilling with a beer and ringing mum to see how she was, Two more tourers arrived. as I was chatting, ten minutes later and one was still struggling to put his tent up. A newer MSR. hubba Hubba ( I have an older version). I had to drop my beer bottle back for recycling and asked, MSR? Ok? He said it won’t fit. Although newer, setup is same as mine. I helped him find the doors, which have the two lateral attachment points. Once those are on it’s easy. Once all attachment points were on (6 of them) I left him to it.

I was due to meet up with Max in his home town of Wolznach, south of Ingolstadt. He’d arranged to finish work early to meet up, so I started off earlier than I normally would.

All went well until the black clouds started gathering. Then the lightening started and I was riding straight toward it. I could see a village ahead and hoping it had a covered bus shelter. A tactic I use often to avoid a soaking. Just as I pulled into the bus stop the first spots of rain fell into hit tarmac with that distinct smell of rain. For the first time in a while.

Sat in a bus shelter. The rains on the way.

The rain did t last long, but that was a prelude to what was on its way. Huge thunderclaps and then the rain started properly. I was nice and dry in the wooden bus shelter, happily reading my kindle and occasionally watching the light show.

After about an hour I was able to continue. Blue skies soon followed and within 7 miles the roads had dried.

This part of my route took me along the edge of The Danube, the second longest river in europe. It’s also a well known cycling route. One I’d considered, but 3 months isn’t enough time to cycle the length and then cycle home. It could be done one way with a flight. I’m not a fan of flying with a touring bike… you crazy fool!

A small part of the River Danube with cycle track

Arriving in Wolznach I was impressed again at how clean it was. The centre looked like it had been revamped main area.

Wolznach centre

I soon found Max’s flat and he came to meet me warmly at the door. Last time I had seen Max it was 4 years previous at a DS Smith way introduction session. Max has since moved of from DS Smith and I was keen to hear how he was getting on. Since we’d last met, he’d also gotten into cycling and had cycled to Bratislava. He was a lot fitter and athletic now and very much into his cycling. A quick shower and we headed to the beer garden!

Cheers Max! I mean Prost!

The beer garden was large but with plenty of shade from some big trees. The beers arrived. I declined a litre of beer to start it was before 6pm! We chatted and the waitress decked out in a traditional Bavarian dress came over several times to take out food order. We had just talked to much to start looking at the food.

Bavarian food

It was great catching up. We talked about anything and everything. Max had even been on an over lander tour, Nairobi to Cape Town and had stayed in many of the places I have when I was in Africa and he’s off to morocco and Mauritania later in the year. As the evening drew to a close, Max insisted on paying the bill as I was a guest. We talked about future travels and he’s never seen London so we agreed he should fly to Bristol and I can take him there.

Part of our conversation including my ongoing journey. I hadn’t planned to see Munich. I asked whether I should have included it and agreed. He also pointed out a bit I she see further in the route on the way to Switzerland.

I had a great nights sleep in Max’s flat. And he awoke early to go the baker to get fresh bread. The Germans are very much like the French when it comes to bread. Fresh each day! When I said earlier that shops didn’t open on Sunday. The exception is the baker. After breakfast I got ready to leave and max had to go to work. And with that, farewells done and a confirmation that it shouldn’t be another 4 years. We went our seperate ways. Max to his work and I on the road to Munich!

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