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Day 6 middle of nowhere to Neustadt 38km

Updated: Jun 6


WhatsApp conversation this morning.

Me: This is not turning out to be the trip I planned.

My mate Ieaun: Why don’t you just tell people you went interrailing and did a little bit of cycling in between stations?


Cheeky Bastard. But funny nonetheless.


When is it time to say enough is enough? Or should you never give in? Should I just carry on regardless and push through?


I think I know people who would tell me that’s exactly what I should do. But I’m also thinking about the fact that this trip was supposed to be 80% holiday and 20% challenge. It has ended has up as 95% challenge and 5% semi-holiday. Apart from the three hours in the sun on the Danube in Austria which was 'type one' fun, everything else has been 'type 3' fun (not fun at the time, not fun on reflection, but gives me a story to tell).


Long story short, I haven’t given up completely but I’m cutting a big chunk out of the trip and getting a train directly north to Düsseldorf in the hope that I can move away from the weather that Southern Germany is experiencing right now. Because joking aside, I cannot take another day of being soaking wet.


It's was still raining when I woke up at 5am. The kind of rain that would normally have you looking out of the window and thinking 'zwift it is then' or just turning around and going back to bed. Today's task was simple: ride 25km to Neustadt, jump on the train to Ingolstadt, pick up a  new wheel and then ride on.


But I hadn't reckoned with the effect that the weather was having on the surrounding countryside. 250m into my ride this morning I came across a roadblock where they were building a new bridge. No problem, I’ll just go round it on the old bridge I thought. But that was also blocked off because it was flooded. Okay, I’ll just keep riding and take one of the dozen right turns North that will take me back onto the route. Except I couldn’t take any of them because they were all flooded, with car drivers reversing back up the road and looking for alternative routes themselves. I squinted at the map and thought I could see a track that would take me through a forest and back to route. I was delighted with myself for taking the brave option until I came out of the forest to discover I’d done a complete circle and come back to where I started. I had to ride another 10km to the next town with a major road crossing before I could turn north again.


What followed was a series of on again /off again bike paths, flooded or blocked by fallen trees. In one case, the signposted path was just non-existent, forcing me to ride on a main road that had no hard shoulder with double length trucks going past. At least they were giving me room, but that meant they were just carving bigger bow waves over the top of me. As I went through one village, an air raid siren went off and I couldn’t tell if this was just somebody practising using it or it also doubled up as a flood alert warning because half of the village seemed to be underwater.


Now you may be tempted to think"he’s made all this stuff up just to have some content for the blog", but I can promise you it’s true and because I’ve videoed it all, you’ll be able to see the evidence if you feel like it. Most of the time the video will be accompanied by me laughing manically at the injustice of it all.


When I eventually made it to Ingolstadt I got a frosty reception from the woman behind the counter who said in perfect English "You were supposed to be here by 9am. That was the deal. I don’t know if we have time to fix it now before we close". I didn’t want to argue with her about shops closing at 1pm on Saturday (which seems stupid to me) so I silently followed behind her and she took the bike over to one of the master mechanics to see if you could swap the wheel over. Thirty minutes later he was done and good job too because I was getting closer to suffering from hypothermia in my soaking wet clothes


After a lot of thinking on the bike and back-and-forth with family, I decided to call off this part of the trip and jump forward a week to northern Germany and the Rhine from Düsseldorf to Rotterdam. The weather forecast at the moment looks better, where better is a relative term compared to the flooding in southern Germany. I was soon booked on a series of trains which would get me into Dusseldorf at 10 pm and headed off to McDonald's believing the worst of my day was behind me. (Yes you are very clever for guessing there's more misery to come).


It's tempting to ignore the cognitive load you experience when travelling alone. Scratch that, we often ignore the cognitive load from the stresses and strains of daily life full stop. We go on holiday to reduce or remove them temporarily. I had hoped that this trip would give me a real break. Time to think when my only daily task was to ride a bike from A to B. I should’ve read back through my original blog posts of the long ride home from Italy to remind myself that there was a lot more to it than simply peddling a bike.


Anyway, by the time I got my train ticket booked I couldn’t face the brain achingly difficult task (me at least) of rebooking hotels so I was grateful for help from family who just took the task away from me and did it for me while I was sitting shivering in the McDonald’s.


Four hours later I was standing on the platform as the high speed train pulled in. There was indeed a compartment for bikes but the conductor tried to argue with me there was no room. How could that be so when I had booked my space? He eventually gave up (I thought) but immediately we started off he came back to say "you have to get off at the next station". Bugger that, I thought. But sure enough he turned up with a colleague to make sure I got off. "Don't worry there's another train in 12 minutes that goes direct to Dusseldorf". You're ahead of me here aren't you... surprise - there was no train in 12 minutes. In fact it was 45 minutes later and they had no bike compartment. I went to the information desk to be met with 'computer says no' in German. There were no more trains with bike spaces I was told. "So what happens if I can't get a train?" I enquired. "I don't know" said the woman, and started looking over my shoulder at the next person in the queue. Ten minutes of arguing later she told me to go and ask the platform conductors to get me on a train. Two different conductors offered two different instructions, but finally agreed I should wait another hour for the last train to Dortmond. One of them called the called the conductor on the train to make sure there was a bike space. "But you have to get off at Frankfurt and take local trains". Yeah right. I'm not falling for that twice.


As I write this, the train is doing 170kph and is on its way to Frankfurt. You'll have to find out tomorrow if I spent the night sleeping on the platform there.


Footnote

I know that I am fortunate enough to have been able to buy myself out of all the problems this week but not so fortunate that I can simply waive it away. This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. I have been thinking about riding down the Rhine and riding in the Black Forest for about eight years and was finally in a position to do it. The fact that I have paid out so much money and got so little back in return is frankly fucking painful. I can’t think about it now, but once I return home I’m going to take stock of just how much money I’m spent and wasted on trip that has delivered so little back in return .

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5 comentários


So sorry, sounds like the experience whilst challenging enough could have benefited from meeting lovely people along the way, who could meet you partway in being courteous and accommodating 🤔

Curtir

Fuck. Right move to draw a big line under this awful weather situation and get to a different place where you stand a fighting chance of not having to swim your way out of issues. Clearly all trips like this have challenges and issues, but being wetter than an otters pocket on top of all of this just isn’t right.

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Paul Berney
Paul Berney
01 de jun.
Respondendo a

Heading north and cutting out the rest of the Danube and the Black forest

Curtir

You have no idea how i feel for you. Just riding in the rain on a sunday club run is bad enough, but to be in biblical storms day after day, well, massive sympathies.

Its true what you say in your footnote, sometimes its best to know when you're beaten, dont throw good money away, come home, regroup, and plan another trip, but maybe in July or August

MASSIVE KUDOS TO YOU

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Paul Berney
Paul Berney
01 de jun.
Respondendo a

Cheers Paul. Not coming home just yet. I have a plan to recover something from the trip by doing the final three days along the Rhine to Rotterdam

Curtir
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