I have ridden in Germany as a school-kid and as a teacher, which is a nice full-circle thought. In addition, i've seen much of the country on holidays, professional development courses and by 4-wheels. From Hanover, Hildesheim and Berlin in the north, to Munich, Füssen and Stuttgart in the south, I feel like I have a good grasp of the diversity of land and people.
However, I cycled during none of these visits, so I will now concentrate on two other spots in this blogpost:
The first is where I got my first taste for bike touring. I was given the opportunity to visit some family friends one summer during my school-years. I must have been 14 and I needed a break from what was going on at home. Staying with Claudia and Axel's family was just the ticket. I spent days playing the piano, writing melancholic poems and generally doing what a teenager does, with a tinge of angst. I was staying in their beautiful wooden home near the town of Wolfenbüttel, close to a peaceful forest. I met a young lady on the second day of a few weeks there, as she stopped by the house on her shopping bicycle. I have never learned a language so quickly. Before I knew it, I had accepted her offer to go out into the forest the following day with a group of people on bicycles. I had not done a lot of recreational outdoor-pursuits as a boy, other than Cubs, Scouts and the Sea Cadets, so this leisurely camping trip was new to me.
I remember a lot of cassette tapes with stickers, a lot of snuff and a bit of schnapps. The average age was about 17, so I had to try and play it cool so as not to give away my lack of years. The warm summer sun flickered through the trees, drenching our young faces with optimism and excitement.
I won't go into details of the evening, but it was great and very cozy. I slept like the baby I really was, and found it hard to leave after a hearty cooked breakfast. But we did leave, all very efficiently, strapping our bags to the bikes and clearing up the campsite meticulously.
The second ride in Germany was in the extreme south west as we rode from Switzerland to France. It was the fifth country of nine that we cycled through as part of the world-record attempt (see Austria post). We rode along the edge of Lake Constance and Untersee, surrounded by typical alpine meadows, stopping occasionally for refreshments and to form a plan with our support vehicle. It was during one of these stops that the four of us, in T-Shirts with the charity logo, decided to get a few action shots. Our support vehicle driver was in place as we took our positions alongside each other. It was a lovely backdrop, an old wooden town, which must have once been a transport hub for a railway. There we were, smiling, whilst trying to look strong and determined, when all of a sudden one of the team disappeared. He had inadvertently positioned himself on the old railway line, his wheels caught like a trolley. Strapped into his pedals, he had no chance, the slightest sideways movement sent him crashing to the ground, badly twisting his ankle and knee in the process. The road must have felt like sand-paper as it drew blood, but he was a trooper and we got the money-shot. This was only a few days into the ride, yet he soldiered on each day, pushing himself through the pain barrier.