So I was up early and when clambering out of the tent found a man standing guard. I would describe him like a WW2 U Boat Captain – tall, fair, lean, 30 something and sporting a stubbly beard. (He wasn’t wearing a roll neck sweater and carrying a periscope). It was early, but nothing is ever early on a farm is it?
So I did my ablutions, packed the tent and then despite the ‘guard’ (who was probably ensuring that I didn’t kidnap any of the sacrificial children) I cycled off without paying.
Now, in my defence, I didn’t know where Mrs Farmer resided, whether she was going to charge me for a corner of a lawn and the use of a toilet overnight, whether we could communicate because she didn’t speak English and whether she was pre-occupied with Daisy, Ermintrude and her sisters who seemed to be very inconsiderate and needed milking again. Anyway I was gone.
So the usual pattern ensued of little busy roads in the towns and quite a bit of climbing when taking to the quieter routes. I have to declare that my focus was now on reaching Strasbourg as soon as possible. The present Mrs Ives had deigned to visit to break up my visit and with it also came the promise of three nights in a luxury hotel. (Apparently they have showers that you can use all the time). Anna had not dictated the schedule but those lovable rogues Ryanair who only flew into Strasbourg a couple of times a week did. When I say ‘lovable rogues’ then let’s be frank… we all hate them but they are cheap and fly to places we want to go to.
So I plodded on admiring the beauty of the countryside but frankly making a mental note never to pedal across this part of the world again. It was tough and hot cycling with little, other than the view, to detain you. Rosenheim was my late afternoon stop and in my quest to get west I found no campsites. Booking.com identified cheap accommodation (€40) in Altheim and I found it eventually in the back streets of a little suburb.
The German young lady who took my booking spoke wondrous English after a year out in Ontario. I dug out my phone and showed her the room availability and price on the website to confirm that this was what I expected to pay. She told me her boss wouldn’t take a debit card but needed cash. Ffs… We all know this is nonsense as he cannot run a hotel on cash. He personally helpfully gave me vague directions in German where back in the little town I’d find an ATM. I spent another 30 minutes on top of a long day sorting out this challenge. I got back and handed the cash across. I must add that he also ran a takeaway restaurant on the site and dealt with me whilst serving doner kebabs and pizzas.
I chose not to use Booking.com to save the hotel the 20% commission. Frankly, in Germany, I’ve twice been mucked about by Turkish gentlemen who push their luck on these matters. I will now use the Booking.com website and they can pay the commission. My irritation is that they don’t recognise that I know I’m saving them money by going direct.
I’d bought some food en route and after this and a quick beer I called it a day.
Well again I was on the road by 7.30am with, according to my Garmin, 108 miles to go. However, as the day unfolded then with more detours and roads that prohibited bicycles that figure went up. A really frustrating symbol was a sign with a blue background and a car on it. This meant only motorised traffic could use a particular road. I’d ignored a couple of these but they could be dangerous by incorporating tunnels or have cars seriously go fast. Inevitably I got a bit of horn blowing by plonkers.
What was on my mind was that on top of the ‘up and down’ I had the Black Mountains to cross. These rose up before The Rhine and Strasbourg. In principle all was good because my destination, Strasbourg, was 400 metres lower. However there was still the matter of these mountains.
As routes got blocked by prohibitions I’d stop to consult my map, Garmin and mobile. The latter had not been very useful because my 3G or 4G signal was useless in Western Southern Germany. So there I was at some junction, quite lost, when a very nice German lady, with her grand child, asked if she could help. Given the general indifference of the population I was quite overwhelmed at this intervention. I was so touched. Anyway, we didn’t have the ability to communicate and that was that.
By small steps I found my way down the country lanes where cereals were being harvested on either side and eventually made it to the top of the mountain. At Freudenstadt I was done for the day and had 45 miles left before France. A Google search found a campsite that professed to be full. I went back to Booking.com and booked a cheap hotel. The only rub was that it was another 5 miles away!
Eventually I got there and checked in. It would do, and so would the beer and schnitzel. One more day to ride before luxury.