This tour was extremely challenging: approx. 150 km. in torrential rain, severe thunderstorms, 6 punctures within the first 5 days, worn out brake-linings. The heatwave and the strong winds that had bothered me on my last 2 tours, stayed away this time, but the searching didn’t. It is especially difficult to avoid roads with heavy traffic and still to find your way. I ofen saw cycle routes and didn’t dare to take them, or I lost my way because I had missed a sign, or because there wasn’t one. There are however MANY cycle routes in Germany, some of which are well-signposted, even including distances. For obvious reasons I didn’t like the gravel paths that had been responsible for my many punctures.
What impressed me most positively once again, were the personal encounters. I often had to ask the way and got wrong or no information but many people approached me and even accompanied me. My special memories are of Rosemarie, who changed her plans for her Sunday trip and cycled 10 kilometres with me, to ensure I went the right way and Thomas, who was on his way home from work and cycled considerably slower to show me the way. Then when we were close to his house, he asked if I MINDED him accompanying me further. He told me to continue straight on and to wait when I reach the road. Then he came on a different bicycle and not only accompanied me until we were 6 Kms. away from my accomodation, but also gave me € 5 for my charity – 10 cent per kilmetre that he had cycled (25 with me and 25 back). The owner and the caretaker of the first hotel I stayed in were also very friendly and gave me an innertube and a cycling map and the owner of the Gasthaus in Oberschöna invited me to their private barbeque, because their restaurant was closed. My Warmshowers hosts were all kind and helpful and one of them even gave me the takings from a talk he gave for my charity.
However there was one exception – the very first encounter was extremely negative. As I propped my bike up unter the awning of a closed kisok near the border, so that I could unpack the rest of my rain-gear, the owners came out and were extremely unfriendly. I should have listened to the weather forecast and then I would have known not to cycle on that day. Cyclists only leave dirt outside their kiosk!
Apart from all the lovely encounters, the beautifulg and varyied scenery the quaint villages and the wonderful Spreewald more than made up for the trials and efforts. Although it was the shortest tour up to now, I found it the most difficult. Whether that is because of my increasing age or just due to all the tests, which were sent to me, I do not know. Neither do I know whether I will do another tour in two years, but I never say never.