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Day 5 Landshut to Gisselthausen - 32km

Updated: Jun 6


Tomorrow I’m expecting a plague of locusts or frogs, as the gods of cycling continue to punish me for some unknown crime. Today I may as well have ridden into the Danube because I couldn’t get any wetter than I have been. The day had started out promising, but clearly this was just the gods toying with me, before they threw the latest challenges at me.


You will have already noticed that I only covered 32 km today and, as is often the case, the map and data on Strava doesn’t tell any of the story of the ride.


Let's start with the good stuff. Figuring out how to complete even simple everyday tasks in a different country can be a daunting task. The unfamiliar practices, the language barrier, and the potential for embarrassment all contribute to making you avoid doing stuff. I'm convinced this is why so many tourists eat at McDonald's when abroad instead of trying local cuisine - everything works, looks and tastes like you expect it to (shit). Of course these guys have made it even easier by introducing on screen ordering and you can even switch the language. The fear of embarrassment is a powerful (de)motivator. 


So you can understand my trepidation when I had to visit a bike shop this morning and a DHL office so I could post home the extra kit I brought with me. (Would you believe me if I told you the extra kit I’ve sent home weighed almost 1.5kg? What the hell was I thinking? I really should know better).


Anyway, I rolled up to the only bike shop in town that was open at 8:30am to be met by smiling mechanic who listened to my problem and said 'yeah we can fix that easily'. I went inside the shop to talk to the owner and buy some inner tubes and I mentioned the fact that I was looking to send a parcel of my clothes back home. She went out the back and found me a box and taped up my kit inside the box and gave me instructions on how to find the local post office and what to say when I get in there. Unbelievably kind (and I can’t help thinking that wouldn’t have happened in Austria). Off to the post office and I did my usual intro apologising for not speaking much German and asking the woman if she spoke English and in what is a rare occasion in Germany, she didn’t speak any English at all. Still between us we managed to work out what forms I had to fill-in, where the parcel was going etc. It was much much easier than I was expecting and so much less stressful. I still had time to kill. I went off into town found an outdoors shop to look for waterproof trousers. The only pair I could find were €95 and I thought I’m not paying that for one weeks worth of use. (Voice of narrator "of course he would come to regret that decision that very same day).


When I returned to the bike shop, everyone was smiling, 'Ales gut?' I asked. The mechanic and the owner made that face that people make when they want to tell you the truth but they’re not sure how you will take it. 'Will it get me to Rotterdam?' I asked and they exchanged a nervous glance between each other and the owner said “ It will work, but you really should get the free hub looked at when you get home". That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.


It had just started raining outside and I was eager to get on the road so I just thanked them and left. Once again it was easy to get out of town using dedicated bike path, but in an unexpected turn of events within 3km I had turned on to a gravel path through woods. This went on for another 5km. The route this morning had diverged from just following the river to running through towns and villages alongside it which at least gave me something different to look at. The rain had started pelt down now and each of the forest sections was hard going. Almost inevitably I feel, this is where I had my first puncture of the day. I mean it wasn’t going to happen in a town near a café was it?


I dropped the back wheel out, reached into my bag for one of my two new inner tubes only to discover they had sold me tubes with short valve stems, which didn’t go all the way through my rims. You might say that's your fault for not checking Paul and you would be right, but keep your opinions to yourself eh.


Try as I might, I could not pump up the inner tube with the tiny amount of stem that was poking through the rim. So I had to go back to the old tube, get out my puncture repair kit, fix that and put it back in the wheel. That sounded easy, but it cost me 45 minutes . Within 10 minutes of setting off again, the rear was going flat. Yes a had checked the inside of of the tyre thoroughly, thank you for asking. Obviously, this also coincided with me having ridden further into the forest and away from a main road. I stopped and looked at Google Maps and unbelievably there was a bike shop only 2km away. The tyre went flat after another 5 minutes and I decided to push the bike to the shop rather than try and change it again. Seizing upon the opportunity, the cycling gods opened up the rain taps a little bit more.


When I arrived at the bike shop, it turned out to be a motorbike shop and it was closed (not what it says on Google). I tried once again to get one of the short valve stem inner tubes to fit but gave up. If I could just get some hair into it I could ride it to the nearest petrol station and use the valve converter that I brought with me to put in from a machine.  In desperation I called Lee from Velo Atelier and told him about the issues with the wheel and my nervousness about riding on further and he said he’d look into it for me. He also told me that the value converter would work to hold the short stem in place and I would be able to pump my tyre up that way and he was right. It worked. Never leave home without one of these. They are £1.


After another 45 minutes I was finally back on the road again and just when I thought it couldn’t rain any harder it did, and once again I was riding through villages with flash flooding. I gave up and went to shelter in a bus stop. By now, I had only ridden 30km. I was freezing cold, my shoes were full of water. The rest of me was covered in dirt and I was shivering like I had some kind of cycling induced Parkinsons, barely able to hold my phone. The irony of me having sent home my extra clothing was not lost on me at this point. Lee messaged me back to say he found a bike shop in Ingolstadt who had my bike wheel in stock and could fit it that afternoon, but I told him I wasn’t going to make it another 50km today. I needed to get to a hotel and unbelievably there was one just under 2 km away which I booked immediately. I was greeted by two very friendly women, laughing at the soaking wet bloke dripping water all over the reception. "You are not the first cyclist here today with the idea of stopping their ride" the receptionist said. 'Put your bike in our conference room. Did you want us to turn on the sauna for you?'

Oh my God yes!


Tomorrow there will have to be yet another rethink. First of all, I will make my way to the bike dealer in Ingolstadt and then I will have to think about how I’m going to make up 150km to the next booked accommodation.


It goes without saying, I just want to ride my bike.

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7 Comments


Blimey !! I’m a few days behind reading your blog, I’m hoping that life has been a bit nicer for you in the coming days ….. !

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Replying to

It got better!

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Fi
Fi
Jun 01

Hope you took the train and decided not to use the webbing you are starting to develop….if in doubt train then the pub… get a bit pissed and start again tomorrow… remember you are on holiday and the rain gods will get tired eventually….

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I agree with Paul Balfe - take the train

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It’s a shame you can’t post the video clip you sent me of a large truck only just making it through the huge flowing river that was the road - unbelievable weather. Hope the sauna staved off frostbite and your fingers are no longer webbed.

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I keep telling myself that Paul. But the weather forecast is for more of the same...

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