Getting cold and getting lost
At the time of writing we're now well past Stuttgart but still in Germany and actually in a place some 70km from Strasbourg. What is more is that this is the very first blog I've actually written from the inside of my tent furthermore the time is now ten thirty and by rights I should be well and truly asleep!
In addition I'm now just running off my battery as my adapter which I bought in Kazakhstan like many things has packed up! So this maybe the last blog for a few days until I can locate a new one.....so make the most of it,
Our ride to Stuttgart was very interesting to say the least. We were really keen to get there as we knew that more than likely it meant a roof over our heads. I'd made a small list of places prior to leaving and we also had a 'campingplatz' as a backup if need be.
The weather wasn't the greatest as we left in the morning in fact it was downright cold; I'd go as far as saying the coldest since way back in March in China. I got up early in the morning to try to sew up a small hole that has developed in my sleeping bag and by the time Tom got up I was a shivering wreck.
The blood was soon pumping through the body as we hit the road but we were still freezing by the time we hit the first café of the day some half and hour down the road. Even two cups of coffee and German pastries didn't seem to warm us up.
Aalen wasn't too far away and I wanted to get there quite early to primarily check my email. I met a German guy called Julian from Stuttgart when I was in Uzbekistan and had contacted him to tell him we were headed his way. There might we thought be a chance of a room.
There was some nice scenery in the morning so I was eager to try and catch some of it on film. Like I mentioned before taking photos can be hard sometimes as it's breaks the rhythm of riding but today I was in the mood for a few snaps.
About the point where our problems started!
Tom was riding up front and as usual we kept a good distance of about ten metres between us. As it was early morning a few motorists had given us some honks on the horn but we are getting quite used to that by now.; as far as we were concerned we were very much on the right road and not harming anyone.
We did however run into a problem this morning and one which without the magic of technology could have proved more serious. After one small climb I stopped to take a few pictures and Tom rode ahead. After snapping my second picture another car whizzed past and I though it better to jump onto the nearby bike path. I've written about these before and this one proved to be a classic example. It ran parallel to the road for a while before going upwards and then left and as is quite common before I knew it it just came to a stop and I was now in a field.
I had to backtrack a bit and work my way back to the road. I had expected to see Tom waiting on the road but there was no sign of him; I guess about five minutes must have passed and I eventually decided to put the foot down and try and catch him up, the problem was that despite riding hard for a good ten minutes he was nowhere to be seen. I stopped thinking that perhaps he'd gone back along one of the bike paths to look for me. So I waited at the side of the road, still no Tom.
By the time I reached a junction with a petrol station and a McDonalds I was very worried, I hadn't seen him for nearly half and hour now and was sure he would be there waiting. I thought that I might even be in front of him now. I waited and waited and waited but nothing.
I was just about to start riding downhill to Aalen when a silver convertible Mercedes pulled up alongside me and the driver speaking very aggressively in German while waving his hands in the air told me to get off the road. I was a little shocked at his attitude and as we were on road with single lane traffic and not a motorway I thought I had every right to be there too. Nevertheless the high number of trucks also powering along the road made me think it might be a better option to look for another route.
At this point I just had to hope that Tom was actually in Aalen waiting for me. It took me about another half and hour to get there and I headed straight for the centre and the bus station. After riding around for about ten minutes there was still no sign of Tom; by now I was really quite worried. I managed to find a café with Wifi and sent him and email. I was just about to give up and leave the café when I also received an email from him and to cut a very long story short five minutes later and massively pleased to see each other again we were reunited.
We decided the best course of action as it was now lunch time was to have lunch at the café before setting off again. Our little 'little drama' had however left us behind schedule. We pushed onwards in the afternoon sticking almost entirely to bicycle tracks but the winding nature of these meant we were making slow progress as we headed for Stuttgart.
I thought I had more photos but it appears not.....just one of me trying to hide how cold it was
When the bike paths in Germany are good, they are really good but like I keep saying when they are bad they are terrible. I grew up in England having it drummed into me that riding on the pavement in a village or town is strictly forbidden but here it's totally normal. In my eyes it's also pretty dangerous but these are the rules so I guess we just have to follow them.
For me it's also a real pain; for most bikes it's very easy to go up and down kerbs but for me carrying such a huge weight it's a real problem and every time I have to mount the pavement I find myself going fast and then having to stop as I take the bike down and up kerbs.
I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to full-fill my promise of a bed tonight for Tom when we stopped about 35km from Stuttgart. I really think Tom had had enough for the day and he needed some encouragement and persuasion from me that we could still make it there. We might have to ride into the night but I was determined for us to arrive there that evening.
We finally arrived in one of the suburbs of Stuttgart around seven and by this point we were both already thinking of alternatives to camping. We managed to find a café with Wifi and celebrated our arrival with a nice cold bottle of Becks each. We were also able to find a hostel and after a quick call to check availability we were off again riding like the wind into the night towards the bright lights of the city centre.
It's amazing what kind of rejuvenating effect the promise of a warm shower and bed will have on weary legs but we managed to find some extra energy and sped our way through the night time traffic covering the twelve kilometres in no time.
The hostel was centrally located and pretty modern but a little on the expensive side we thought just for a dorm room but it was a roof, bed and shower. For a man who always tries to keep his word it was important for me that we'd made it.
We rounded the evening off with a short walk down onto the main shopping Plaza. It was now gone ten and we joined the throngs of mostly young people out walking the streets going from bar to bar. Tom and I were slightly different in that we were simply looking for something to eat to fully celebrate our arrival and incidentally the longest distance in a day for Tom on a bike. We found a Kebab house and feasted on the kind of food one only usually eats at around three in the morning but to us it tasted like paradise.
I think it's time for us to put our feet up so a day of rest and one more night in Stuttgart is on the cards for tomorrow. Time for bed.