Generic Touring Thread

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  • Amazing!

    Post your blues in 5....4...3....

  • I think I'm going to be good. Its been more gruelling than fun the last wee while.

  • write up and pics please

  • I'll try get round to it.

  • Germany’s a fairly big place, why not visit it a third time? To be honest, the original plan was to go to Scotland this summer. A plan which quickly dissolved the moment I looked up ferry prices to Newcastle. Perhaps in the off-season then. After my previous Bikepacking Trans Germany (BTG) - ahum - difficulties, I sought a small redo.

    The route:

    The bike:

    The part along the Czech border looked particularly appealing, and to get there I included the Rennsteig Express (RE). Following last year’s successful tryout, Tijmen and I decided to meet up at the start of the RE, for five days and nights of duo bike packing extravaganza.

    Tijmen used Komoot to split a 400k route into what the code thinks are five equally demanding sections. And admittedly, it was pretty spot on. The days are tough, but manageable. Days with more elevation gain are shorter in distance, and vice versa.

    The scenery is stunning. Piney single track is exchanged with wide premium gravel roads, followed by grand vistas of rolling hillsides, complete with seemingly endless skies. We take our time to soak in the environment in between the serious pedal strokes we have to put in. We’re on vacation, after all.

    I used to think campsites were quiet places. Places where people would come to read a book, complete a crossword puzzle, or perhaps even quietly converse with a companion. I don’t think campsites are quiet places anymore. A couple of notable examples disrupting my attempts to relax, or indeed sleep:

    • A motorcyclist asserting his dominance over my engineless two wheeler, by revving his explosion box in a rhythmic manner at seven in the morning;
    • A bush next to my tent housing only a million birds, having a frantic discussion about the intricate details of bird law;
    • And of course the classic way too many children who are way beyond their bedtime, shouting way too loud for way too long.

    Good thing I brought earplugs.

    “Shall we call the campsite in advance?” I ask Tijmen.
    “No need, they will always have a spot for a tent,” he responds confidently.
    I go against my instinct, and trust Tijmen’s extensive bike packing experience.
    We arrive at a random campsite, at a random time.
    “Did you make a reservation?” the campsite owner asks.
    Like a kid being asked whether they washed their hands after going to the toilet, we answer shyly that we did not.
    “One tent?” he asks.
    “Two,” we whisper, eager to increase our chances of having to look for another campsite at this hour.
    The campsite owner sighs.
    After leaving reception and having lost count how many times I’ve said ‘danke schön’, the man shows us our spots.
    “See?” Tijmen says with a mischievous smile. “What did I tell you?”

    We finish our final day together, and take the train to Leipzig; home of Wit Slingers HQ. My full Wit Slingers kit has performed wonderfully, thanks to thoughtful design and quality workmanship. Still, I have one small request for the bag maker.
    Tijmen shows me around his charming downtown atelier. Inside there is an organised chaos of multiple sewing machines, fabrics in every colour imaginable, and countless little black plastic components.
    Without hesitation he starts to rip some threads out of my beloved randonneur bag. Watching the man work feels like he’s operating on my imaginary child. I know what he’s doing is right, but the guts are all exposed! In no time the doctor has replaced the original magnetic closures with beefier, downhill ready ones.
    All this waiting around and watching someone else work has made me hungry, so we swing by Tijmen’s go-to lunch pizza place for a quick bite. Afterwards we pick up a fresh Campingaz canister, and gather the necessary ingredients for a mouth watering home cooked lasagna. The following day I’m on my own again.

    Germans are a friendly bunch of folks. I’m making my way up a quaint farm road, when a group of people holding noise machines and whistles starts cheering me on. Next thing I know I’m overtaken by an older gentleman in a red and black Speedo, bashing away on a mountain bike from the nineties. I suddenly realise I have found myself in the middle of a bonafide bootleg triathlon!
    This is my time, I think to myself. Unknowingly I have been training for this moment for the past two weeks, no, years. Around the bend I can see my arch nemesis struggling with the increasing gradient, shifting down a couple of gears. Smelling weakness, I firmly stay in the same gear, and find the strength to crush my grey opponent (strength that in hindsight I probably should have reserved for the second leg of the day).
    On the downhill he wizzes by me again, yelling something in German, flailing his arm to the right. You bet, mister! As he swings off onto a dirt road trying to set a PR, I coast down the tarmac descent, until I slowly come to a halt at the stop sign at the foot of the hill.

    Over the next few days the heat is starting to get a tad ridiculous. The forecast shows thirty degree sunny days, with no end in sight. To stand a fighting chance against the wicked fireball in the sky, I set my alarm to five o’clock. I normally quite dislike getting up early (very unique, right?), but here I am pedalling away before six, ignoring the fact that it’s actually a bit chilly right now.
    Having reduced my days to eighty kilometres, I arrive at the campsite before noon. Some guests have undoubtedly only just started their day, as they see me roll in all tired and sweaty. I find a nice piece of shade, blow up my air mattress, and recharge my devices and legs. I close my eyes, and slowly start to doze off.

    I decide to take a slight shortcut, as the heat doesn’t seem sustainable, or, I dunno, fun? The final days home are fairly uneventful; lots of cycle paths parallel to B-roads, farmland on both sides. But I don’t mind it. The middle section has been packed with more than enough excitement, and now I can slowly acclimatise to returning home.
    I’m gently sailing over the smooth black asphalt, with a slight breeze in my back. I arrive home just before the weather turns sour. I organise my photos, write a few words, and click ‘Post reply’.

  • Wonderful! Would read again. Looks like a great trip, and has certainly bumped Germany up the list of places I want to tour next....

  • another great trip report from the legend himself!

  • Fantastic write up! Makes me wanna take a week off and just ride into the sunset...

  • we should all be so lucky to be on the recieving end of Tijmen's mischievous smile and bag-making wizardry

  • Fantastic read.

    Very jealous!

  • The bags are for sale, the smile isn't.

  • Excellent write up and photos. Sounds fantastic

  • Great report and lovely photos!

  • Thanks all.

    @vpCogworks: Do it! A week is probably the perfect length for a tour.

  • Excellent. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  • amazing stuff here. my wife and i are planning england-spain and after thinking the thing to do was the velo odyssey for so long, then tweaking it into partial non existence cause of all the silly tourist detours we are now thinking of doing the velo francette up until it joins the odyssey for the stunning coast bits. hopefully shortening the journey as time is a factor. THEN i was like, shit! wild fires! and indeed it seems the route has been affected near arcachon. but i am finding it hard to get info on this in english. anyone got any updates please?
    ps. we’ll be on out off road tandem

  • @Tijs This read was like a nice cup of coffee

  • Amazed they got anywhere on those wheels.

  • Popped over to Paris for the Bank Holiday weekend. This time with a return trip on the ferry due to the Eurostar's indefinitely suspended bike service.

    Due to a super-hangover we decided to skip the 200km ride back to the ferry, and instead caught a train from Paris to the city of Rouen, riding 65km to Dieppe in the late afternoon. Which I'd recommend to anyone in the same situation.


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Generic Touring Thread

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