Week 2 update

18th May – 11:07am – outside Starbucks in Nurnberg. We had sun yesterday, managed to get about 2 hours of charge into this badboy. Raining and very cold again today. Here’s last week’s fun and games……

Monday May 10th

When by the river, try and have a wash. So we did, and it was great. Not in the river mind, but we unpacked our Ortlieb foldable bowl and put in some boiled river water to have a scrub in the tent. This lead to a late start and naturally, I (Tom) was hungry after only about 1 hour pedalling. We stopped at the first town along our way and fruitlessly looked for a supermarket. We found everything but. We gave up and bought an onion baguette from a bakery. Massively over budget at EUR 1.40 a stick, we could have 2 Aldi loaves for that! As we sat munching on our budget “brunch” along came a man to inquire into our journey. He too was on bicycle, but clearly running errands judging by his bag. We chatted about our trip and he introduced himself as Martin, a local doctor on house visits. He gave us some route advice through Germany and instructed how we might find the nearest supermarket, also running off to find us an internet card to access the town’s free wifi. Pleased to have met such a friendly local, we thanked him and headed off to pick up some real food. We sat at our usual “dining table” (The Aldi carpark) and scoffed. Then Doctor Martin reappeared , this time by car! He strolled over to us with bottle of wine in hand and said he wanted to wish us the best of luck on our journey. What a bloke !!! As we chatted about friends of his we should visit, he also found the time to prescribe us the remaining jabs we needed for our trip.

Perhaps the riding was tough that afternoon, or perhaps waiting to drink the wine made it seem so, but we were both very tired by the time we snuck into a campsite 82km down the road. We polished off the fantastic Riesling before the kettle had even boiled…..

 Day 10 – 82km – cash EUR 13.50

Tuesday May 11th

MO

Took the bike track out of town. Not always a good move, crap track for first 10km. Once out the “scenic forest” (not so scenic with 50kg of bike vibrating against one’s backside) we made good ground again. We turned at Koblenz and took the Rhine back South East, from here it rained, and rained, and rained some more. At a town enroute, we logged on to the laptop with only 8 minutes of battery remaining we secured a meeting with the president of German rugby the coming Friday, we were to  phone him on Thursday to confirm. He had invited us to his office at the newspaper to discuss further. That night, it rained heavily. It rained so much that our fish pasta winked at us as it was brought back to life…..

Day 11 – 112km – cash EUR 7.33

Wednesday May 12th                

Woke up to a relatively dry start (all things considered), head off to Oppenheim, all along the river. We reached a campsite at around 5:30 and took a break for a cup of tea. We were there only a couple of minutes when we were approached by a man just finished work. He asked us about our trip and where we were headed that day. Then he offered us to join him and his family for the evening at his home. We gratefully accepted the rare invitation on the road and followed his instructions to his house nearby. Upon arriving at their amazing family house, we were met by sister in law and nephew. 3 families were living under one roof, one very big roof !! Andrea (Werner’s wife) hid her surprise at our presense, and was an amazing hostess as Werner dropped his daughter off at a local disco. We enjoyed a great meal and plenty of beers as we discussed economies, the new British government, and travel. Clearly our German was coming along nicely 😉

Day 12 – 80km – cash EUR 9

Thursday May 13th

8:30am and an absolute feast for breakfast. A full German spread of fresh bread, cheeses, meats, eggs and juice. We stocked up as hungry cyclists do, waddled up the stairs to collect our gear and sadly said our goodbyes. Today was “father’s day” and in Germany that is cause for much celebration (from the men – it is an all day drinkathon, normally involving a tractor at some point). As advised by Werner, it took only 20 mins to find the first tractor load of men boozing heavily on the back of a trailor. If tractor boozing could ever be referred to as sophisticated then this was it. It was great to watch and we were offered some as we pedalled behind. Too early for me, I normally hold off until at least 10am…

In Mannheim, we pulled over to call Claus-Peter (the president of German rugby) and he suggested a change of venue for the meet, his old rugby club, and the site of a rugby museum that he could show us. I wrote down the address, but had no way of knowing exactly where this was. We pedalled in all the way to Heidelberg, it took us a little longer than possible but we found ourselves co-incidentally on the exact road of our club! He tracked it down and even found that a match had just finished. FC Neunheim had just defeated Berlin in the penultimate match of the season. Initially, the members were a bit confused by our presence, but after explaining our journey, the president of the club, Rama, welcomed us in and introduced us to the guys. From here we were thoroughly refreshed with strong German lager, and added 3 new countries to our scroll! Marten who played for Germany, Adam for Spain, and Shawn for Zimbabwe. This is perhaps quite typical of top flight German rugby. There is a strong desire to improve and build, and to do so, the clubs recruit talent to implement a structure for the upcoming German children leaving school.

Adam offered us his garden to pitch our tent, and we all headed back to his to drink beer and “Georgian water” (although that glass tasted suspiciously like vodka to us). I made a hash of putting up the tent, tripping over more lines than I anchored in, then passed out. Needless to say I didn’t make it out with the guys to the club and woke up with my first German hangover…..

 Day 13 – 85km – cash EUR 6

Friday May 14th

We stumbled about Heidelberg in the rain, hungover and looking for food and drink. Eventually we found our way to our favourite home, Aldi, where we set about the usual procedure. Processed cheese and ham in the carpark. This gave us just enough time to head back to the house, collect our bikes, get lost several times, then find our way back to the rugby club again. Here we met with Claus-Peter Bach, and his photographer assistant from the paper. Claus-Peter was a very knowledgeable man. It was no surprise that he represented Germany himself, nor that his father was vice captain back in the 50s when Germany first toured again following the war. He guided us around the museum, which Claus-Peter had helped piece together. Every item and photo had a story, and a great one too. So proud are Germany of the 2 victories over the French, and rightly so. Germany had a very strong national side back between the 20s and 60s. Only due to some errors in promoting the sport at the right times did they miss out on developing the game as it has in our recognisable nations today.

Day 14 – 0km – cash EUR 20.00 (including a map for East Germany)

Saturday May 15th

We left Heidelberg as the weekend rowing regatta was starting up, shame we couldn’t stick around. The rest of the day bore nothing of interest, and as we wrote as such (hidden poorly behind a few short trees) we were discovered by a wandering lad. He approached us a little tentatively and tried to point out that perhaps we shouldn’t really be camping on what turned out to be his tomato patch. Nevertheless, he led us towards his home where he said a man could speak English. He ran into the house and out came Wolfgang to greet us. Wolfgang was a social worker, and he (along with others) helped care for a home of 8 boys. Sean (our young tomato grower) was the youngest of this group and they were a great group of lads, all with different stories. I tried to take my first opportunity at creating a new rugby interest. After 3 “touch downs” I gave up on this dream……

We were allowed showers, then made coffee by a young lad called Adem. If you are reading this Adem, then thanks for the coffee, and as we discussed, you will do very well as an engineer. He was a very smart and motivated individual, and only 15 years old. It speaks volumes of the work that Wolfgang and others are putting in. Thanks to all the guys at the home for welcoming us and please stay in touch !!

Day 15 – 97km – cash EUR 8.79

Sunday May 16th

We have had a leaky stove for 3 days. As the “man” of the team, I shook it, bashed it, threw it around before concluding that there was nothing more to be achieved with it. Jodie, offering a female point of view simply opened the unused instruction booklet and found the troubleshooting guide on fixing leaky “ovens”. The “oven” was subsequently fixed and order was restored to coffee time once more.

Sunshine? What the… honestly, there it was, just hanging around up there like it had been up there all along, just hiding behind those thick grey things that kept watering us. We soaked it up, trying to get some charge into our equipment and kicking a ball around in the park. Now Johnny Wilkinson eat your heart out. If you ever kicked your second kick of your life straight and true over the posts like Jodie did, I take my hat off to you. It was perfect. I’ve missed many a kick in that position J

Too much fun in the sun, and not enough pedalling, I couldn’t muster up any energy and we stumbled over the line just before dark to camp up in a pretty grotty woods at the edge of a farmer’s field. The only highlight of the day from this point was the alternative dinner, bangers and smash !! It was great.

 Day 16 – 69km – cash EUR 0.00 (Sunday)

Monday May 17th

MO? Try about 1 hour before MO.

Scared of being ripped to shreds by the farmer’s baying dogs in the next field, we awoke and packed up at 4:50am. Great for covering good distance before lunch, bad for being able to actually open your eyes to pedal. Having said this, we had the best morning yet. Great rolling hills, and clear skies before arriving at our first stop, Rothenburg. For the first time we felt like tourists as the historical centre was breaming with tacky gift shops and Chinese tourists, each pulling behind Jodie’s pet hate, wheely luggage. We replenished our supplies, coffee, powder milk, chocolates, cheese, ham, bread, jam and as a special breakfast treat, large swiss roll. I ONLY had the swiss roll for breakfast, this was enough to leave me feeling a bit giddy.

Day 17 – 95km – cash EUR 17.50

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3 Responses

  1. Hopefully you’ll have some time to see alittle of Nurnberg — it’s lovely and after all the plan was that it would be the Capital of Germany.
    Erlangen and Wurzberg round there are great too.

    Sounds like you’re having lots of fun and perhaps sampling far too much German beer — at least you’re avoiding the schnapps!

    Looking forward to the next update.

    C

  2. Sounds like you are having a cool adventure or are you just locked in a changing at Footscray making this up, nipping out to the Taipan from time to time. Its a great read so keep the updates coming. By the way Tom the 7s team really miss you – we already won silverware the Dover 7s this season.

    Keep those legs turning !!

  3. Wow!!! This is unreal guys… ha ha ha it’s actually happening. Your stories are amazing and i’ve been stuck to the screen for the last hour reading them (ok, I’m a slow reader and i keep getting interrupted by Face book chat- but amazing stuff)
    Tommo- Just checking too mate, when the stove was leaking did you try banging it? I can’t remember, I’ll have to go back and read that bit… usually does the trick though (if you can’t fix something by banging it’s unfixable as far as I’m concerned)

    Glad to see you’re getting some time to have a kick as well… lets hope a few more sunny days are on the cards, who knows, with all this practice Tommo you might be able out-kick Little Bill soon, big ask though, I’ve seen the power in her legs mate… speaking of which how are the hills treating you Bill? Still dominating them I hope.

    Got a bit of news for you both but will save for an email soon… take it easy legends, actually don’t take it easy, keep cycling your bums off, i wanna see you in Aus asap…

    Doggies are 4th on the Ladder too at the moment mate… Pies 2nd of course

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