Day 8 Langatte to Saarbrücken - Get The Balance Right

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

I had planned today to keep to the revised plan of another shorter recovery day. That means that to keep to schedule I will need 3 big days to get to Brussels after today. The schedule is of course completely arbitrary. I could change it and the route if I wanted to. I also wanted to ensure I got to my destination in time to watch the England game. I am still not sure if I am getting the balance right here. Taking recovery time is hard. No sooner am I off the bike than I am thinking about where to ride next. I know the body needs time to recover though, but yesterday's enforced time doing nothing was hard to deal with. I had hoped to feel the benefit today though. Last night at the Airbnb I met Thara, a young Dutch woman who was also on a cycling trip. In her case she was going to Bormeo near Milan for a week to ride up the famous Stelvio pass. She decided as she had time she may as well ride there. From Maastrict. Over 1000km. "Isn't it frustrating that you ride so slowly" she said, before revealing she can only average 22kph (compared to my 15). There's always someone better than you isn't there? Just when I thought I was doing something impressive, I met someone who kills it. I asked her if she was also struggling with insect bites on the trip. "No. It's because you are riding so slowly!". Harsh. I cheered myself up with the knowledge that I have two kids older than her. Actually that doesn't help does it? But chapeau you her riding alone across Europe at 23. It was really great to spend the evening chatting to someone doing something similar. Highlight of the evening though was when the Dutch woman and I tried to figure out what our French host did as a job. We never did figure it out, but when she mimed her boyfriend's job, I pulled the word for fireman out of some deep recess in my mind, scoring a winning point in my head for the Dutch - English playoff of 'Give us a Clue'. ( 10 points for you if you also said 'pompier'). Looking at the map this morning I thought I could cut out a weird section where the route went East for no apparent reason and keep my ride to 75km today. Within 10 minutes of setting off I was back on the smooth tarmac of the canal side pathway. This is awesome. The views are stunning and it's the fastest riding I've done so far on this trip, back up to normal Sunday morning club pace. My legs felt great. Yesterday's enforced rest was obviously good for me. My Garmin has had a lie in though and decides it won't join me until 45 minutes into the rise when it suddenly beeps to say 'ooh, have we started already?'. Even my Garmin could not stop my upbeat mood though. I am flying along and loving the ride today. I love canals and I don't mind admitting it, although my kids will hate me for typing it. I live near the Grand Union canal which goes from Birmingham to London. I have run hundreds of kilometres on it over the years, especially when I was training for The Race to the Stones, a 100km ultra-marathon three years ago. I know that sounds unlikely, but I am a living proof of the fact that almost anyone can do one. I think as you get older you realise it is easier to go further, than faster. My favourite training run was to get the train from Warwick to Stratford upon Avon and then run home on the canals. You can run an entire marathon that way ( and I did). I mention it here not to amaze you with the fact I have done an ultra-marathon, (#humblebrag as my son Michael would say) but to point to my preference for A to B races or events. I like the fact that there is only one way home, just like on this trip. There is no one I can call to come and get me or some short cut home. Whatever happens I must ride across Europe to get home. That changes my mentality. It shifts me towards Rachel's favourite saying; "If not now, when? If not you, who?" While I was considering all this and enjoying the views, the kilometres click by on the canal, 30, 35, 40 and onwards. I stopped to look at an information board and now saw that the canal goes the whole way to my destination in Saarbrücken. This is why the route goes East. It sticks to the canal which is following the contours of the land to avoid hills. Thanks eurovelo5! At some point I passed from France back into Germany, marked only by a faded welcome sign on the pathway. 95 kilometres later I was in Saarbrücken. Further than intended, but much faster (22kph my Dutch friend and that includes stopping for coffee and a croissant and leaving the Garmin running - who's the old man now eh?!). Sorry I lost my train of thought there for a moment. I got to my Airbnb so quickly ( I mean, so fast. I am the fastest. Believe me. #notlying) that my hosts were not there. Their next door neighbour saw me and came over with a bottle of cold water and we chatted for five minutes about my ride and who I am. This exhausted my entire German vocabulary, but I understand more than I can say. At days end I am at 800km for 8 days and still on target. Today's numbers; Elevation gain - 107 meters and I reckon most of that was in Saarbrücken Number of naked German ladies waving at me from boats - 1 Kilometres to go - 775 so I am over half way 


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