The world is BIG! I mean really big. I know this sounds obvious but I’ve never really been able to comprehend that. When you can get to the other side of it in a day, the world misleadingly appears a lot smaller. However covering that distance on a touring bicycle, 50-70km a day, while everyone goes on about there business around you, there’s a lot of time to think about it.
So where did we leave off? Ah yes Geraardsbergen and the start of the Transcontinental Race – congratulation Kristof Allegaert. We left without any concept of where we were going other than towards Germany. It was raining, homesickness had hit after saying farewell to friends and family, and the excitement of going was wavering. No wild-camping spots were jumping out at us as we passed south of Brussels. The misery got the best of us as we retreated, tail between our legs, to a hotel for route planning. Rising early with renewed determination we prepared to set off until Ellie’s seat clamp bolt head sheered (on a Sunday), not exactly the best start to ‘The Adventure Begins’.
After a trip to the bike shop for repair we were back on the road, the weather had even changed favourably leaving the air cool and fresh. Our target, Aachen, a city just over the German border for fresh brake pads. From there we would head towards our first river, the Rhine.
If you asked us to list the countries that we expected to be breathtakingly beautiful, we would list wild locations such as Tajikistan and Mongolia. Germany would not of made the list but you can bet it has now.
After joining the Rhine we welled with excitement as following rivers is an old school form of navigation for proper adventury folk. It also turns out to be quite popular with German families on cycling holidays, people on rollerskates, and walkers. After reaching Mainz we changed tact, going via Frankfurt we joined our next river… the Main. The plan being to follow it from Frankfurt to Würzburg and then come away as we cut across country to the Danube.
The Main river was even more beautiful than the Rhine, sorry Rhiney but it’s true. The weather and castles may have helped in this verdict, but it was also less populated and more diverse in landscape. We even managed to get a touch of wild camping done at last.
Wild camping has been a bit hit and miss, in typical British fashion we just can’t get satisfied with the weather. Still struggling to slow down, the thought of making time for a dip in the river or reading in the shade continues to take a back seat. Partially down to being used to road bikes and the rest down to aiming for Athens in October, something had to give.
This is a once in a lifetime trip and we are truly privileged to be able to do it. We have a supportive network of family and friends, it would be discourteous to them to squander it. Embracing change and staying fluid is at the core of this trip, so we’ve scrapped getting to Athens for October. This date being set to see family who would be near at the time, we’ll just fly from further afield.
We’re also finding it a struggle to balance the blog and the tour. We’re very conscious about keeping the posts coming as we travel, and we do want to share the experience. However, only having one device mean that uploading photos, editing video, writing posts, and planning routes resulted in some very unsocial stops. So we’ve invested in a super cheap netbook, rubbish for videos but perfect for uploading to Flickr and writing posts.
Germany has been an absolute pleasure and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. We thought everything would change once we left Geraardsbergen in regards to wild camping, but old habits die hard and we’re still learning. The landscape has definitely been more diverse which excites us greatly about what’s still to come.
We’ve stopped for a few days to plan going forward. We don’t want to get to Tajikistan before May, due to snow and -14c temperatures. Some updates will be published very soon so keep an eye out for them :).