Monday 17th August
So, it was still raining the next morning. Everything in the “waterproof” trailer was wet (to be fair if you drizzle water on anything for 48 hours it’s bound to get a bit damp). Tent was wet, shoes were wet, entire world was wet. We packed up and got going.
We dodged the numerous slugs on the cycle paths. It rained.
‘There’s something on your jacket Steve.’ I said.
Steve looked at his jacket sleeve. On closer inspection a disembowelled slug had somehow gotten stuck there.
‘I’m covered in slugs!’ said Steve.
How we laughed.
The rain lightened in the afternoon. We took some quieter roads and cycled through more pretty Bavarian countryside. It was nice, though sometimes the smell of farm was so bad that I could almost taste it.
Tuesday 18th August
Today it was not raining.
We stopped off at a campsite in Sigmaringen that seemed to be solely occupied by cycle tourists (which led to Eric and Steve passing some catty verdicts on everybody elses’ gear. Boys, please!) We later learned that this region is popular with a lot of cyclists, as it’s where they join the Danube cycle path.
In the evening we explored Sigmaringen, which has a pretty centre.
Wednesday 19th August
This morning we spent 30 minutes trying to unlock our heavy duty chain bike lock, the irony of which was not lost on us. The interior had probably rusted after all this time outside. We got it open eventually with some bike lubricant and persistence.
Quite a lot of our equipment is flagging. Our self-inflating roll mats don’t stay inflated, our waterproof panniers have holes in, and I’ve sewn together four pairs of cycling shorts and a sleeping bag (not to each other). It’s a good thing that our camping gear doesn’t have to last too much longer.
It was another chilly, misty morning, and we had a long way to go. We’d been trying to pull out big days to get Steve to Strasbourg, where he would be flying home on Friday.
Eric had plotted a route along a quite large looking main road in order to make the best time, but when we arrived there it turned out to be a cars only road.
There was a cycle path alternative which we took. It was a nice, scenic route, but the hilly, winding path slowed our progress down to a crawl.
At one point the cycle path ended and joined the main road, which was signposted to show that bicycles were allowed for this specific stretch. When the next cycle path appeared, a kilometre or two later, we joined it again.
We were pedalling along when who should appear but the police. They pulled up alongside us and rolled their window down.
‘Guten tag,’ said a policewoman.
After determining that we were English, she said: ‘We received a call that three cyclists, two of which were on a tandem’ (damn, always so recognisable!) ‘were cycling on the main road. This is not allowed, so I will have to talk to you about it, OK.’
Not this again.
She hopped out of the car and explained why it was dangerous to go on the main road (in short, you may be squished by a lorry). Braced for a fine, and ready to (politely) argue, I got out our map and explained that we had only been on a small section of the main road where cyclists were permitted to join while they were in between cycle lanes. I’m not sure whether she believed me or not, but she was by far the nicest and most cheerful police person we had encountered. There was a worrying couple of seconds where she got out the old regulations book (bad sign), but then we saw her turn to her colleague and give a cheery shrug which seemed to say “what would be the point of fining them?” So we apologised, promised we wouldn’t go back on there, she said ‘No problem, don’t worry about it,’ and the German police officers went on their way.
Germany, you are great.
It was 11.30 and we had cycled a pitiful 17 miles. At this rate, using the meandering cycle paths, we would not be able to make it to Strasbourg on time.
We formed a new plan: cycle to the nearest train station and hop on a train. Yes!
Off we pedalled to Ebingen, taking the winding, hilly cycle path.
Painfully, our first train took us back to Sigmaringen – the town we had started from this morning. I tried not to think about this too much as all the distance we had cycled whizzed by in the wrong direction.