Wonderful people.

After the kindness of Wolfgang and Silke I awoke this morning in a nice bed to the sound of a thunderstorm outside, apperently it has been really bad back in the North of England and it was here at 7am. Ive made a video of the storm and will upload when free wifi is available. It was torrential rain for an hour solid, along with lots of lightening.
At 8 am i went down stairs to see the breakfast table set and Silke although she had just worked a nightshift had called at the bakery for fresh buns and chocolate croissants .
She even made me two buns with ham and cheese for a packed lunch along with the remaining croissants.

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grandma lives with them and she was very wary of an strange English man in their home , but was kind enough to have her photo taken.
I had to take another photo of Wolfgang and Silke as they have been the perfect host and Silke has learned me my new Favourite word… “Dingalish”
Danke Wolgang and Silke . Es var schon dich kennen zu lernen 🙂

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Wolfgang rode with me till we arrived at Schellsitz and we stopped for a beer at 11am !. Wolgang knew the man who owns the very nice hotel/ pension house and he asked for some mushrooms for us. but these are not your run of the mill mushroooms oh no he growns them himself in a cave which runs behind the hotel for about 50 metres with a network of tunnels.

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rows upon rows of these fantastic tasting mushrooms. When we had finished he showed us the tunnels and there was a skeleton in a dark corner>; The owner said ” Thats the last guy who ate my mushrooms ” , I laughed my head off to the sound of it echoing around the tunnels . Another total surprise, and im very quickly learning that this trip surprises me every day in some strange way or other!
At Naumberg Wolgang left me , I thanked him again for his wonderful kindness, and on I rode.
At Tultewitz i decided to take the official detour route, very quickly thinking this is a maistake, as it was a near vertical climb up some shocking paths and certianly not suitable for a fully loaded touring bike with 30 kg of gear.

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Trouble is if you want to see the best views you have to make the climbs and i was rewarded with this .

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Hoping the decent would be better was a fool hardy moment as I was greeted with this

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At the town of Dornberg I saw what i thought was a wedding , and asked if i could take a photo , the girl in the white dress spoke fantastic english and explained to me that she was the person chosen to represent her village for the year and today was the festival of the roses and the celebration of the bridge which was 120 years old! ( I hope I”ve remembered that correct!) . All of her family were in traditional dress and looked fantastic. I was very gratful they allowed me to take pictures . They asked where i was from and I explained my trip and they will be looking on the blog tomorrow so thank you kind people, and thanks for the photo of Lisa ! in her tradditional dress.

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At the far side of the bridge was a party to celebrate the day , and I left them to enjoy it as it looked like the whole town had turned out to celebrate . It is such a nice thing to see, and yet again another great surprise.
The weather today has gone form thunderstorms to very hot 30′ sunshine and I’ve decided to camp at the fantastic site at Postendorf which is only €8 all in.
Tent is up, they have a private lake for swimming and all the facilities you need. A very good site.
My only concern is the last 3 days Ive had a pain which has been progressively getting worse in my left shin bone . and now I am struggling to walk on it without limping and pain.! I don’t know why , maybe stress of all the climbs or just old age catching up!
It does not bother me when I am cycling so I guess the answer is more cycling less walking.!!

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Kindness

What a strange day I’ve had today .
After cycling for 5 days with , Anton , Jenny , Lotty and Henk we said our goodbyes and being honest I was sad to leave them as they have been wonderful people to be with .

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I became very good friends with Anton and Jenny and gave Anton my baseball cap so he will remember me. We had a beer to celebrate and remember our great times together .

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I left at 9.30am my latest start to date and headed off down the river Saale . The pathway is good and the signs very good

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Soon after I came to the very pretty town of Plotzkau

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My plan for the day was to cycle to Halle but the sun was shining bright again and the temperature climbed to 30′ I arrived at Halle in 3.5 hrs so made the decision to keep going till I reached the campsite marked on the guidebook at Weissenfel , making a total of 110 km for the day . 110 km in the sunshine is a lot easier than 110 km in the rain and wind !!
I crossed over on the ferry at Brachwitz

20120629-233300.jpg passed Neustadt , sudstadt , Mersberg , Leuna, basically following the river upstream as I’m doing the route in reverse order . I was passing by an old lady who at the time was about 20 metres in front if me i thought “Alex ring your bell” to let her know I’m approaching from behind. No sooner than blink she had turned around and tried to push me off my bike !!! . I swerved at the last minute , she missed me , I threw her a filthy look and thought that’s what you get for trying to be polite !
I got to Weissenfels feeling good not tired at all then thought “ok it’s 1 km to the campsite , tent up , shower , cook some food and relax “. Then it went very wrong !
The camp site was a collection of huts with a few caravans and the gates were locked . I actually cycled passed the entrance thinking that can’t be it !
About 200 metres ahead I saw a man cycling towards me so I asked in my best German where the camp site was? He spoke little English but enough for me to understand that the crap looking locked gates was it !! A guy came to the locked gates and straight away I knew I was not going to get in. (So be warned if your cycling the river Saale route on page 19 )Come with me he said in German . I was confused as to where we were going but soon realised that I was going to be a guest at his home .
We cycled for about 10 minutes to the town of Markwerben . Where he has a wonderful home . We walked through the gates and he explained to his wife how he had found me looking lost and with with nowhere to stay . In 5 mins was shown to my room, 10 mins later in the shower , then fed and drinking beer in the garden .

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My wonderful kind hosts are Wolfgang and his wife Silke , I am truly amazed at the kindness of people, they have just basically adopted for the night !
Silke had to leave at 9 pm as she works night shift , and Wolfgang and I have had a few beers in the garden

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I have been learning Wolfgang English and he in turn has helped my German . Silke speaks good English as she has had lessons and I love the way she combines German and English words to quote her make”Dingalish ” a combination of the two 🙂
I really can’t believe how lucky I have been and have said to them many times tonight thank you so much .
So the day started saying goodbye to friends, and ended it making new ones !
The strange world of cycle touring !! 🙂

Adopted

I’ve cycled 120 km today and when I got to the camp site it was closed . Just then a man came past on his bike and saw me looking lost . He said come with me and now I’m staying the night with him and his lovely wife . They have fed me and now I’m drinking beer in the garden with them .
Blog tomorrow
Fantastic people Wolfgang and Silka .

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Rest day

After the long ride yesterday, ive taken today as a rest day .

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The sun has come out and as i type its now 27′ Ive been into Bernburg for a look around and its a nice place, nothing spectacular , but nice

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I ve had a good breakfast, shower and spent the afternoon just lying on my mattress outside the tent, enjoying the sun and relaxing, drank a 1.5 litre bottle of coke, and 1 litre of fresh orange juice.
Ive taken the chance to update the stats page, the Bike page and the Gear page with honest opinions of what i think how my things have performed so far .
Not much else to say today , as Im having a day to myself.

One month

It’s now one month since I left on this trip.
I’ve had one bad day out of 30 so all in all I think I’ve done pretty good considering some of the weather I’ve had to contented with. At the end of the last five days I’ve cycled with Anton , Jenny, Henk and Lotty we’ve had a celebration beer to our achievements for the day , well last night we had a bit of a party and these are the empties
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No seriously about an hour after set off we passed this barn in the middle of nowhere and this is the sight that greeted us. Why they are stored there I don’t know but by the look of them they had been there a very long time .
The route took us from Thale to Ballenstedt then Falkenstien , Hoym and then to the Concordia See, (yes that is how it is spelt) which is a huge lake. When we got to the entrance to the lake there was a guard who told us we could not enter and needed to change our route .
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Apparently there has been a lot of land slides in the area and a house fell into the lake where upon the three occupants were drowned . Henk speaks very good German and the guard gave us a good alternative route around the side of the lake .20120627-224406.jpg
Henk and Lotty along with Anton and Jenny are amazing people . I’ve got 10 years on the next youngest and Henk is 66 . Let me tell you now he is a great guy . He plays very good tennis and regularly beats his son who is in his 30s , he swims regular , skates , did Judo, and can hold his own with any tour cyclist I’ve ever met , he used to cycle 45 km every day to work and back ! And his best speed on a bike is 72 km per hour! 20120627-224955.jpg
The signs again today have been mixed, You get a few Km’s of great signs then nothing at the point you really need them 20120627-225159.jpg
Between the three males in the group we have kept to the correct route and by using a combination of the map and the compass on my iPhone we’ve done very well . 20120627-225407.jpg
As a decorator I found the side of this house very interesting as it been air brushed and a good job they’ve made if it . We stopped for lunch high in a very quite part of the countryside and I climbed one of the hundreds of watch towers you see dotted about the place to take a picture of the group

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I decided to have a bit of a play around with some of my picture apps on the phone and edited this .

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As we approached Lobnitz in the wooded area I took a snapshot of Anton cycling behind me

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As I’ve decided not to go to Berlin, on this trip , but will visit it in the future, meaning , I don’t have to double back on myself to pick up the river Saale and instead have a rest day then follow the river to its source , I was grateful to Jenny for taking my picture beside the sign which marks another milestone for me .

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At Nienburg we turned South and were soon greeted with a big problem as the route was blocked by the building of a new bridge and we had to cross over 5-10cm deep of wet concrete for approx 30 metres to get to the other side of the path !!

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When you’ve spent the day cycling 98km this is the last thing you need . Having no option and to the amusement of the workmen we pushed our bikes through the wet concrete to the other side . My shoes and bike were covered in concrete until we arrived at the campsite at Bernburg which is on the river and owned by the rowing club. The food stops at 8 pm so we ate straight away then I’ve pitched my tent , and washed all the crap off my bike before it dries in the river and my shoes !! Good job I’ve brought two pair with me .
We are all having a rest day tomorrow then go our separate ways on Friday as we’re all going in different directions . It’s been brilliant fun cycling with the others for the last five days, but soon it’s time to press on once again on my own .
One month in I’m having a great time taking everything into consideration , I was pretty fit before I left I’m now very fit , approximately 5 kg lighter ( 1 stone) even though I’m eating really well , I have a good daily routine going and self discipline when needed. This trip has given me a lot of time to reflect on my life , past and present and I’ve some really big decisions ahead of me for my future!

Feeling Good.

After yesterday when I was not at my best , I’ve had a good nights sleep and woke happy with my decision to cycle for another 4 weeks , then head home .
We all started together and Lotty and Henk soon went a different route to the map. We three decided to stick to the map after yesterday’s diversions !
We’ve climbed for most of the day and the views are spectacular but the tracks are not . 20120626-201315.jpg

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Anton and Jenny have been learning me Dutch today as we’ve cycled and we’ve had some great laughs at my expense trying to repeat some of the words . We stopped for a small rest at an old roman fort and I saw a patch of grass with poppies , one of my favourite wild flowers

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We stopped for lunch at a small Chinese cafe ! But it was delicious and only €7

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Before lunch I ate another one of these , as I need to keep my strength up !!

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They need to learn to give you a bigger breadbun 😉
It was mainly off road cycling today with some very long steep climbs but we all did very well and only missed one turn . We are now in the old East Germany and you can see a massive difference in the route , roads , and tracks

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Don’t for one moment think its an easy route because let me tell you now it’s not . You need a good strong bike , mine has performed fantastic so far and strong legs for the hills . But the climbs reward you with brilliant views .

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We passed an old mine works in one of the many forests

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Henk and Lotty were ahead of us and kindly left a huge arrow and their names at of the many junctions where you could go wrong

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Yet again all five of us have met up and we are camping at a very good sight at Thale . We’ve had our usual celebration beer

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I’ve been shopping at Lidl , bought some eggs, mushrooms , yellow pepper , cake , chocolate paste , jam , coffee , 4 beers .
It’s omelette for my tea and now for a good hot shower and a cold beer .
The weather today has gradually got better as the day has gone on and it’s now a very pleasant evening.
I’m feeling a lot better , thanks for all the kind emails and messages of support , I really appreciate them .
Feeling good tonight.
Love to my family and loved ones Xxx

Highs and lows

I am not just talking about the hills either.
I was undecided all day today if I was going to blog or not, but I promised a honest blog so here it is.
I spent yesterday at Bad Gandersheim having a rest day , in the morning it was dry, but cloudy so i went into town for a look around20120625-190122.jpg20120625-190142.jpg
The market was on so I had a good look around bought some lunch and then cycled back to the site20120625-190244.jpg
By now it was raining hard so sitting in my tent after an hours sleep I heard the voice of Jenny shouting ” Hello Alex” . It was music to my ears as I unzipped the tent to see Anton and Jenny , but not just them, Frank and Lottie who I met a few days ago were also with them. As it was raining really hard , and i’m trying not to swear! We alll went for a meal at the camp restaurant , which was expensive for my budget but i thought stuff it, I need a few beers and a good meal.
Yesterday i had planned my next seven days, and the plan was for today to cycle to Thale some 106 km away. Anton and Jenny were setting off later and frank and Lottie left before me. Now this is where it all falls apart!
When you leave town following the R1 signs and the map there is a tiny junction which I missed , my first mistake in 5 days, and before i knew it I was at Gehrenrode some 7 km north of where i wanted to be. I then headed for Helmscerode then Gremsheim , Mechtshausen, eventuallly picking up the route again at Bornhausen. You can see from the map the mistake i made
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Once i found the correct route , again i followed the wrong arrows , and i will come to it later but i was not the only one who got lost. so ended up in the Staattsforst seesen , basically a fecking great big forest with shit tracks and vertical hills !! along with lots of rain!
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So after a 565metre vertical climb and down the other side i came out near to Langelsheim20120625-191921.jpg .
I was wet again! tired , and pretty peeved off, putting it politely ! This was the worst four hours of the trip so far, I stopped for a rest , composed myself ate a packet of mixed fruit , drank a litre of juice, and thought for the first time , thats it ive had enough, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN and today its anything but!
After my rest and getting back on the right route i saw two cyclist ahead of me. and who was it ……
Anton and Jenny, They are my lucky charms. they too had missed the turn but gone in another direction, so again i was cycling with them , and happy for that as great people they are. The rain has been constant for most of the day but then the sun comes out and its so warm you have to stop to take off your waterproofs , then it rains again so its back on with them! We arrived at Goslar in a downpour and i took these pics of the town square so you better appreciate them,
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After the rain eased off we set off towards Gottingerode, and not soon out of Goslar, who should we see ahead but , Frank and Lottie.
, who like me missed the turn sign and ended up on the same route as me, so if your cycling the R1 following the guide book beware of the turn at Bad Ganderheim !

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So it was back to the five of us and we cycled up and up the hills

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This was my view looking back down to Goslar , in the brief time the sky cleared it was worth the climb

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We’ve arrived at the site, pitched our tents and had a beer to celebrate a bloody long wet hard day

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Im now going to make pasta for my meal with a tin of ravioli as well as i am starving, tired, peeved off with the weather .
Im enjoying myself, but miss certain people in my life.
Ive made the decision that I am going to give it another 4 weeks then head back home from wherever that is! . Today has been a tough day for a few reasons, some personal. Tomorrow I head towards Thale my original destination for today then Nienburg from where im going to skip going to Berlin , and head down the river Saale which is part 3 of my trip , 420 km, towards the river Main,600 km, then to Metz in France. Again honestly ,Im also spending more than i wanted to but you cant live on the road for free! and you have to eat a lot more than you normally would to maintain your energy levels.
Ive now covered over 1000 miles (1609 km)

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Its a great trip , I’ve had a bad day, Im tired today , wet, peeved off. think its time for my other beer now!
My original plan was for 5 month I am going to call it a day after two months , then head home.
I will keep the blog going as I want to share the experience with you, and if your planning on cycling in Holland, Germany , France, then maybe just maybe this blog has helped a bit or entertained you in the process.
its now Beer o clock. 😉