No photos this time. They are in the movie below. Cheers!
Andy was very lucky to get into a physio by the sounds, we tried both in town and they were booked out for 6 weeks. Luckily one of them said he would see Andy at 7:30am (before he officially opened). His orders were to take it easy and not ride too far. That day we rode 75kms to get to the other side of a city having accidentally ridden the alternate route through the wilderness. His knee is now fully healed but unfortunately his back is now playing up. We have joked many times about me ‘doing a top gear’ on Andy. For those who haven’t seen top gear, every time one of them brakes down the rules are they get left behind to sort the problem themselves. Also to be kind to Andy and his injured knee I told him I would ‘break his wind’ for him for the next few days (meaning I would ride in front to create a slipstream). I definitely ‘did a Mum’ on this one cracking myself up and impressing myself with my comedy. Andy didn’t think it was as funny as I did though for some reason. Haha.
We are in a town called Sigmaringen and have just come back from visiting a castle that was built in the 1500’s and has the largest collection of old weapons and armour in Europe. It was pretty amazing (even if it wasn’t a beer castle).
The beer here is awesome. Every town has its own locally brewed beer. This town they even supply beer doilies to stop the condensation dripping down on to your coaster and your coaster sticking to the bottom of your glass. Ha! The only problem with all this luxurious beer drinking, is the European wasps that like to take a dip in your beer. From our observations so far, it seems the European wasps here are relatively friendly and dopey compared to at home. Locals swat them away like flies and the wasps don’t care. It seems that the Australian versions have mutated/adapted into much larger and more aggressive than their ancestors here.
From Waldshut where we wrote the last blog we have ridden through Basel and continuing along the Rhine River for a few more days until we got to Nuemburg. Here, we turned east off the Rhine as we wanted to head back up into the mountains again. The Rhine had become much wider and a bit dirty for swimming.
We rode to a place called Frieberg which is the second nicest city in Germany apparently. We went there with a plan of having a brief look around the city, then getting on a train to the top of the Black Forest Alps to a place called Titisee, where the Danube River started. When we got there, we got fairly lost trying to find the centre of town, found out from a nice local that they stopped running trains to Titisee the day before we arrived due to doing maintenance of the tracks. The next option was the bus. We went to the bus station (eventually after getting lost numerous times but being helped out by so many friendly locals, pointing us in the right direction). We probably rode at least 10km extra than we needed to around that city trying to find the train station, bus station centre of town and somewhere to stay.
There were heaps of busses with bike racks on the back but none that were clearly labelled with where they were going. There were also many different companies which made it difficult to know which one to go to. We ended up trying to ask the bus drivers where they were going and them not understanding us, then locals would get involved and try to translate for us. It was all complete mayhem. We then eventually found an office of a bus company that apparently would take us and our bikes and tell us what time and what number bus to get on. Or so we thought. Andy was in line at this bus office for well over an hour. When it was his turn, and Andy asked for a bus to Titisee, the man simply said ‘No’ and that was all. Our only option then was to ride up to the highest point in Germany through the black forest. My resilience levels were fairly low at this stage and I wasn’t overly helpful trying to read the map or find any solutions. Ha.
After arriving in Frieberg at about midday and it now being 6:00pm, we didn’t really feel that Frieberg was the second best city in Germany at all. Across the road from the bus office there was a bike shop Andy still had some enthusiasm left to go in and ask if they had any smaller cogs for our bikes that would make the hill climbing possible the following day. We had no luck in Australia at all with finding the parts. 2 bike shops searched everywhere for us with no luck so I wasn’t hopeful at all. But surprise surprise they had what we wanted. The bike dude said it would cost us 20 euro for the part and 20 euro for the labour per bike. Then if it didn’t work it would cost us another 20 euro to put it back to how it was. He tried to talk us into getting a cog with 26 teeth but we insisted on the 24 teeth (makes it easier to get up hills). The bike dude tried to insist that it wouldn’t work and the gear changing would be too rough etc etc blah blah.
Andy then asked if he could fit the cogs himself with the use of their tools. Surprisingly he agreed. So, here we were after a kind of crappy day, at 6pm at night in an alleyway, not knowing where we would stay the night, pulling our bikes to pieces. Again, I was super helpful and my prime role was bike holding! A very important job. Andy changed his bike first and it was perfect almost straight away. No worries, Then it was time to do my bike which turned out to be a little more difficult due to using a second hand part that required the right sized spacers. After changing my new cog on and off 3 or 4 times to get it right it was now about 7:30pm. Thankfully, Andy has the skills to be able to do all of this stuff, it cost us 37 euros all together instead of about 120 euros.
Our next task was finding a place to stay before riding up multiple huge mountains the following day. After being yelled at by locals for riding our bikes in a walking street (oops we can’t read German) we tried to navigate our way to a camping ground. We got lost yet again and the bridge and bike track we needed were closed. As we stood there looking defeated, a guy came up to us and offered us help. Turns out he was also a keen cycle tourer and so was keen to help us. He personally escorted us to the camp ground 6km’s out of town. On the way, a German man riding near us struck up a conversation with Andy, asking about our trip and where we were going etc. We explained our predicament and he told us that there was a gondola that would take bikes up to the (almost) top. When we looked on the map we discovered that the gondola climbed over 1000 vertical meters but it would take us about 100km short of Titisee. We didn’t mind at all, as at least it would take us up that high. Thank goodness we ran into this guy by chance or else we would still be trying to get up the mountain. Lucky!
To get to the Gondola was an adventure involving heaps of mountain biking through the Black Forest foothills and a lot of climbing. But we found it, and it was awesome. Turns out a way better choice than the train and I’m so glad we went this way. The riding to get to Titisee and Donuashegen was amazing. We had a few great sneaky camp sites, heaps of unexpected mountain biking, lots of climbing, amazing views, German alpine ski villages and awesome “Alpen berries” (similar to dangle berries but way better Haha).
Turns out our bikes are actually really good. We are constantly getting stopped and people are asking about our bikes having never really seen bike like it before. It does make me feel a bit more worried about them in cities though. If we were to buy bikes over here, we would have ended up with an overpriced mountain bike with smaller wheels. Our bikes were actually cheaper, faster (larger wheels) and better than most of the bikes we have seen for sale in bike shops. So, it was worth the effort of getting them here.
We had a very ordinary map for about a week. We started the trip with a very detailed map that came as a book. When we got onto the other maps, navigation became much harder and we could no longer talk in the lingo we had developed while using the book maps. For example, when one of us wanted to know how far we had to go we would respond with how many pages and we would know and understand exactly how far it was. “How far do we have to go?” “2.5 pages”
Or… “There is a hut and pine tree coming up soon. Do we want to stay there?” …. Meaning there was a pension/guest house.
Our German has improved significantly. We know speak like locals. All you need to do is add ‘berg’ or ‘shern’ or ‘targ’ or ‘lingen’ on the end of everything.
Dad, I think you would be very proud of me! Every day, I am rocking the socks and sandals without fail. Who knew that you were on to such a good thing for all these years. I never knew. If I had known that it was so good, I would have never have given you such a hard time and teased you. I can’t believe I used to think it was a dorky thing to do. Turns out it is actually very popular over here too. More importantly though, it is practical. It protects your feet from sunburn, makes it feel like you’re wearing proper shoes, stops your feet/sandals from getting stinky and is comfortable. Andy is not as keen on the socks and sandals thing as me but he has certainly done it from time to time. His feet were so badly sunburnt it blistered so he had no choice.
As I have mentioned earlier, we are constantly taking wrong turns and getting distracted by the scenery and end up having to back track or find an alternative way back to the correct path. On one particular occasion in the black forest in a small village, we had an English vs German conversation with an old Nanna. Neither of us could understand what the other was saying but we both understood perfectly. It went a bit like this:
Nanna: “Hello, can I help you, you looked like you need help”
Us: “Yes please. Is this Trink Wassa? Can we drink this water?”
Nanna: Yes it’s good. You can drink it.”
Us: “Great thanks. Do we go this way to Titisee?”
Nanna: “Yes, go down the hill then turn right”
Us: “Great thanks. Bye”
After we filled our water bottles, we rolled off down the hill we got distracted by the coolness of the town and started talking and zigzagging all over the quiet roads enjoying it. Then we heard in a huge booming voice from the old Nanna (150 metres away) who was till obviously watching us to make sure we didn’t miss the turn off.
“Oi, you missed the turn off” (‘you vague, airy-fairy tourists’ she was probably thinking)
We turned around and went back to the correct path after yelling out our thanks again.
We have been constantly blown away by how helpful people are, especially in a place where there are not as many cycle tourists. Another example was the other day, sitting in an old town in the morning after getting up at the crack of dawn to pack up our sneaky camp. We were making a coffee by a water fountain, on our beer can stove. A woman came out of her house and came up to us, obviously taking pity on us and our dirty homeless look that we are rocking now. She said “you like coffee? I make you one” so off she went back into her house and came out with 2 coffees. She asked where we were from and where we had been bike riding. We told her we had started at Oberalpass. When she understood what we were saying she said ‘Oh wow, so far”. For the first time then I actually started to think that it was a long way that we had come even with injuries etc. We haven’t done a proper tally yet of the km’s that we have done (due to our Aldi speedo being dodgy – who would have thought. Mine broke on the first day and Andy’s you need to add on about 3 or 4 kms for every 10km we do) but it is at about 800kms give or take. When we started at Oberallpass we had no idea what we were doing, we still don’t really, but we are definitely not such beginners as we were then.
Bike travel is really great. We have worked out there are 2 types of cycle tourists. The first type are kind of like road riders who smash out as many km’s in a day and it is about the destination and the physical. The other type are much slower, social and cruisy and take their time and are using the bikes as a means of travel through a place where it is more about the journey and what you see along the way. No points for guessing which we are. Sure, there is still an element of wanting to ride a long way in a day and physically push yourself. We are enjoying feeling fitter and stronger but we are still taking our time, drinking way too much beer, riding with a hangover occasionally and once (yesterday) only riding 10kms in a day if we find somewhere we like and want to explore.
Andy has progressively thrown out more and more of his clothes as he goes along. He has realised that he rides and wears the same thing every day so there is no need for much else. Just a t shirt, jocks and long pants. So, this means he has been wearing his bike riding shorts which are more like undies and is so used to being in public in his undies all the time. So much so, that the other day when he was actually only wearing his undies in a caravan park, he got out of the tent in his jocks and was walking around everywhere, went off to get a beer then came back and told me that “Oops, I have been wearing my jocks around outside” So, on with some shorts then he was off to get some beers more appropriately dressed this time.
We have a bit of a routine now. In the beginning we would be up at the crack of dawn (6am) and riding by 7am. Now, when we are wild camping we are up at the crack of dawn so we don’t get caught. When we are staying in a caravan park we are usually a little hungover and take it a bit slower and get going by about 8:30. When we stay in a guest house we leave late, making the most of the comfort, internet, shower and included breakfast and get going on the road by about 10:00am. When we sneaky camp we have to ride for longer as we can’t set up too early or we will be seen. We have had some awesome spots where we have ‘wild camped’ and it is nice to be out in the bush. The only downer is the constant “What was that?” “Is someone coming?” “Have we been seen?” “Do you think they will go and tell the landowner?” We have had some close calls about being spotted.
The last sneaky camp, we went up into the bush and camped next to a hunting hide/shack. I originally thought they were for bird watching but I don’t think they are. We saw someone in one of these on the side of the road calling out like a dying rabbit with cammo stuff everywhere. Our theory was that we were better off to camp there so if any hunters came, they would see us and not accidently shoot over our heads towards a deer or something. The truth was, we couldn’t be bothered looking for anywhere else as we had stumbled upon a local beer festival that afternoon and it was too late to go anywhere else. It was a bit stressful though.
The hardest thing can been finding somewhere to stay at night. Most tourists and cyclists seems to have their accommodation (guest house and camping ground) pre-booked so places can either be booked out or just not open. When we wild camp we buy a takeaway beer and then ride out of the town towards the bush and try and find somewhere before our beer gets warm. It can be a stressful thing! Haha. Another thing we do before setting up our tent is to look around for the nearest church and do everything we can to get as far away from it as possible. The church bells that go off every 15 mins drive us mad. In a tent there isn’t much of a sound barrier. Peter calls it Time Spam. Apparently the locals hate it too but they have to put up with it because that’s how it is, and that has what has always happened.
Tomorrow we leave this town and head further down the Danube River. We have also posted another video. Enjoy! xx