This week, I braved the wonderful fall weather (attention: sarcasm) and went for a two-day trip from the middle of Germany to Hamburg. My intention was to test both material and body. That I did.
The short version: I’m glad that I won’t be spending too much time in winter weather next year, the Revelate Design bags really are waterproof, and I need a better rain jacket. And proper lights.
The long version: First, I followed the Weserradweg from Hann. Münden to Holzminden. From Holzminden, I took a turn away from the river and towards Hildesheim, where I spent the night at a youth hostel. I’d forgotten to check where exactly the hostel is and was pretty surprised when I saw that it was actually on a hill next to the city, but I’ll get to that… After Hildesheim, I skipped a segment by taking the train and then followed the local road to Hamburg.
I had set my daily goals way higher than I could do. Up until this week, I had never done more than 80km in one day, so it was bizarre to think I could do 180km. But had I said, well, I’ll do 100km, I probably would have been satisfied with 90 – I know myself. This way, I was motivated to try as hard as I could and get as far as I could.
It was a nice contrast to be in northern Germany. The architecture is different and very pretty. Everything is so flat, at least compared to where I live. And the fields were still green, whereas down here, almost all of them are already plowed.
On the first day, the sun came out a few times and it rained very little, the terrain was softly undulating and mostly on well-paved cycle paths so I managed to maintain a 24km/h average even though I had to take frequent breaks to find my way. In a lovely town along the way I had lunch in a butcher shop.
What a nice lunch break! Food was followed by coffee, and then I pedaled on. For hours and hours. Until it was almost dark (4.30pm these days), I was freezing, and started to lose my way. After the wind turned against me and I fought in the dark and crept along at a decidedly discouraging 12km/h. Since I had inadequate lights, didn’t really know where I had to go and was starting to be really cold, I found the next town and took the train to Hildesheim, where I then found out that I’d have to cycle up the hill to the youth hostel (in the rain, of course) with a 10% gradient.
Luckily, I had my own room and a local pizza place agreed to deliver to the hostel. I devoured a ridiculously overloaded pizza, downed a beer, brushed my teeth, and fell into a coma-like sleep.
The next day, I decided to skip the first part of the cycle and take the train instead of cycling first and then finding a train station later. While the network is very good in Germany, this was still easier, plus it gave me more time to wake up. So I cycled back to the train station in Hildesheim and bought some breakfast.
Later that day, I found myself cycling in torrential rain on a road that hadn’t passed through a town in 25km (not that common for Germany) when, out of sheer luck, a small Italian restaurant appeared as if out of nowhere. I gladly stopped, had some hot tea and spaghetti, dried my clothes, and then got back on.
I arrived in Hamburg without any more glitches, met my sister-in-law at the Apple store (they allowed me to take the bike inside as I didn’t want to leave it outside in the middle of the city), smothered my niece in kisses and that was it.
Though I was happy to have a rest day after that, I can report that while I certainly can’t to what I have to do next year yet, I’m not that far behind. Cheers to that!