Lake Konstanz – WaldShut
There are so many amazing places to swim. The water looks so inviting being crystal clear. Apparently it has been unusually hot, hottest summer on record for Switzerland. Nothing like North East Vic heat waves, but bloody hot when you’re pedalling all day. Thankfully now it has cooled down a little. Andy keeps hoping that every castle we see is a beer castle with icy cold beer for cycle tourists. Unfortunately, every time he is very disappointed to learn that it is a plain old castle with no beer.
We have dumped a few of our possessions gradually along the way, trying to lighten our load. As we are becoming more accustomed to the heat, bikes and the heavy load, our riding has improved a lot. We have done a couple of days of riding 80 or so km’s and not feeling overly tired at the end of the day. So we are getting fitter.
The further out of the mountains we get, the worse the camp grounds seem to get. They are all full of permanent campervan set ups. They leave a tiny space for tents and cram people in tightly there is not even enough room to have your bikes on the site and we have to stand them up and tie them together. We have slept with snorers next door for many nights. We will avoid camp grounds like the plague from now on if we can help it and free camp in the woods from now on.
We arrived in Konstanz which is a beautiful city with an incredibly interesting history. We were lucky enough to stay with Peter who was probably the best person to stay with in all of Europe as he is a professional bike tourer/businessman. Peter’s apartment was amazing. He lives in the best part of town and has a large 5 star luxury apartment, the building is over 400 years old! Andy met Peter on Mt Buller about 6 months ago during summer while mountain biking. Peter over-heard Andy talking about riding the Rhine River and started talking to him and said we should stay at his place in Konstanz. What are the chances of that!!!
We emailed him and it all worked out well. We had been sleeping in a tent for over a week so the thought of a bed was very appealing (plus it was rainy) originally we thought we would stay for one night but after going out for a few beers with Peter and his friend we were convinced to stay for 2 nights. Peter has numerous businesses that all mainly involve bikes in some way or another. He has cycled all over the world and has designed, planned and made maps of many of the cycle routes in Europe. So now we have a plan based on his advice on where we should go.
We aren’t going to ride the whole Rhine River. We think it gets pretty boring and industrial which we thought it might (based on our research). We are going to ride as far as Basel (Germany/France) then ride through the Black Forest and ride down the Donau (Danube) River to Vienna (Austria). We are also wanting to head west into France before the Black Forest hopefully. Not too sure yet though.
It was lovely to ditch the bikes somewhere secure for a while and have some time to be a tourist in a nice city. Andy and I don’t really love cities but Konstanz was nice to spend a day in. We also were able to do some repairs/ maintenance on our bikes, buy maps a proper bike lock etc. It was really weird staying in a complete stranger’s house. We were out for most of the day as he runs his 4 or more businesses from home (the room we were staying in). He was very welcoming and made us amazing espressos in the morning. We also got a gift for staying at his place of bicycle shaped sunglasses, we’ll have to put up a photo. Way better than waking up in a tent and making our coffee on a beer can on the ground.
It is so much cheaper in Germany about half that of Switzerland. The last camp ground we stayed at cost us about 60 AUD for a patch of dirt. So after staying right next door to some poms, the following night we tried our luck at ‘wild camping’ which is illegal technically but Peter said he does it all the time and it is fine as long as you don’t get caught. Haha.
We pedalled a short distance the next day due to 70km/h head winds. We had to pedal flat out down hills. If we stopped pedalling down the hill, we pretty much came to a standstill. It was the pits!!!!! So we stopped early at lunch time and decided we would ‘wild camp’ We went down these non-existent tracks to the river, through corn fields and pushed our biked through the scrub and stumbled across the most amazing place that looked as though it was made for sneaky camping. It was right on the water, had a fire pit and had a nice sized clearing. We fell asleep on the edge of the river for a few hours and went swimming. There was no one around so we thought no one would find us. However, in the late arvo, all the locals appeared. We wanted to set up the tent and go to bed but had to wait for the last local to stop fishing and leave at about 9:30pm. Our sneaky spot was not so sneaky. It was the locals hang out and we had stolen the prime hang out spot. Oops. We woke up at 6am like every morning and packed up quickly before the first boat went past, made a coffee, had breaky, had a swim and left. We are getting much faster at packing up everything. From waking up to having the tent packed up, panniers packed and on the bikes, we can now do in 20 mins.
Mum, you will be pleased to know that I now have to eat breakfast every morning or else I get hangry buy about 9am after a few hours of pedalling and ‘Andy the poor bastard’ (as you would say) cops it. So, I have come to the conclusion that breakfast is a good idea for everyone’s sake. Plus, I can actually feel the lack of energy if I don’t.
After 2 weeks or whatever it has been, I now feel like I really know my bike. We have worked out that slow and steady is the go with the large amount of time on the bike and the loads we are carrying. Some days we are on the bikes for 8 or more hours. We think we are carrying a lot of gear but the truth is we have 2 less bags than most pairs of cycle tourists we see. We have seen twice now, people pulling a hammer out of there pannier bags to hammer in the tent pegs to the lush, soft Swiss ground!!! There have been no crashes from us yet. The drivers are very kind to cyclists which is great. We have only been beeped at once! We go the wrong way at least 4 times every day .Our maps are all in German, so that’s to be expected I spose.
There are so many decisions that need to be made every day.
‘Should we try this backroad?’ ‘How much further should we ride?’ Should we wild camp tonight?’ Where are we on the map’? ‘What should we have for dinner?’ Should we buy food here or wait and see if there is another supermarket closer to camp?’ What if there isn’t’?
Some days we are buggered and every decision is so much effort and we both suffer from the old Chronic Indecisiveness ‘Too Hard Basketitis’ AKA (CITHB) an annoying sickness that can arrive in the afternoon and last a few hours. When this happens worse to one of us than the other, the other person becomes ‘trip leader’ and makes the decisions. It’s great sometimes just following when you have CITHB.
We are now in a lovely town called Waldshut, we have booked into a hotel for 2 nights. I am currently listening to a guitar and saxophone player playing just outside our window and there has been a variety of great buskers right outside. Pretty luxurious. Andy injured his knee the day before we arrived in Konstanz and it has got significantly worse. It is painful for him to ride, sleep, and walk (he doesn’t have a great track record). So we are resting for a few days. I am keen to get on the road again but am certainly enjoying this hotel and town. Andy is going to the physio tomorrow morning, which will hopefully help. We are lucky that we have 3 months and can take our time. It is the way that we prefer to travel anyway.