River Danube Tour Day 6: Thunder Road

After a bit too much beer last night I was surprised to be getting up the earliest we have done so far.  This was mainly because you could hear all the zips of the other tourers opening as they were all trying to set off in the relative coolness of the morning (28 degrees).

The route today had three massive climbs but they came in the afternoon when the temp was back up to the norm of 34.  At the top of each climb the sweat was just dripping from our heads.  I did my usual coping mechanism of litres and litres of coke every time we pass a shop.

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As we had breakfast really early and we were off camp at about 0815 I did start to feel peckish at about 1100 so we stopped for pastries with the coffee I had prepared at breakfast and kept warm in our flasks.  On one of the coke stops at about 1200 we decided to have lunch in the restaurant instead of stopping a bit further down the road to eat peanut butter and jam sarnies.  It was a really nice resturant, we got a salad from the buffet and a plate of fries to share.

I knew our end target for the day so checked on google for campsites in the area, one that stood out was a really nice site by a lake and it had a variety of glamping pods and what they call bike towers.  Just by chance Booking.com was showing one biking tower available for 54 euros a night so I pressed buy!  This gave us the incentive to keep the pedals moving.

When we got to about 22km to go though we had a break and not long after you could hear the thunder.  It was a very big storm as the thunder was quite long.  We could see the grey clouds approaching and we thought there could be a good chance we would miss it if we just kept going.  In the end we were lucky, we only felt a few drops of rain  but as we progressed with the ride we could see the places we were travelling through were not as lucky.

When we got to the site we checked in and it is in a really nice place, it has bars and restaurants, crazy golf, tennis, table tennis and boat hire for the lake.  As we had food and now gas we made our own tea and went for a little walk.  The bike tower is cool.  We have a table and benches underneath, a double bed and they have provided all the bedding.  It has electricity so I can charge the GPS etc.  Tomorrows route is split into two stages we do 45km then a 5km ferry ride then another 37km.  A long day but nothing like the 95km we had to do today.

 

River Danube Tour Day 4: Thanks a Lotte!

This was always going to be a tough day.  We knew it was going to be hot, but we also knew that we had to make up a stage after going one behind on the first day having gone over the 1100m mountain from Triberg.

The terrain was getting less lumping but the shade was getting few and far between.  We were on exposed field roads for the most part and you have nowhere to run when the going is getting just a little but too sweaty.  On the Garmin GPS unit that I use the temp in the shade was 36 degrees but in the sun it was showing 43-46 degress and there was no let up.

We took the opportunity to wet our heads in the river when there was a banking that would let us get down down.  At one location we took our tops off soaked them in the river and jumped on the bikes again before they dried out.  The river was teaming with little fish, hundreds of them!

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On this stretch we have seen the usual amount of Herons, but we have been introduced to large Storks wandering through fields.  The other birds we have seen have been large Kites that circle overhead and cast large shadows over you like a scene from a Jurassic film.

The tourist highlight for today was the Bautopf cave system.  It is massive and surfaces with what I have been calling the blue lagoon.  Crazy to think that there is no base to the lagoon and it just continues in to a massive cave system.

Our host for this evening has been Lotte.  I got in touch through the bike hosting site Warm Showers http://www.warmshowers.org.  Basically, if you are a cycle touring, fellow cycle tourers will put you up and try to help you out as much as possible on your trip.  I used the site for the first time when riding from Canada to Mexico four years ago.  Lotte met us at her house and let us use the shower and get ourselves feeling human again.  She made us a beautiful tea of pasta with a an amazing creamy veg sauce with scrummy bread.  Her generosity has been amazing, she is showing us a shop tomorrow that will hopefully sell GAS!  Lotte has been to many places on her bike and she is a huge inspiration for just getting out there and living life how you should, wild and free! Forget the holiday reps trying to sell you a package of fake adventure. See the bits the reps don’t even know about have a bit of fear as that is what makes us who we are WILD ANIMALS 🙂

 

River Danube Tour Day 3: By Gorge!

This was a very hot ride.  It has been 33 degrees every day, but today the ride was fully exposed.  No shelter from the sun in forests.  At the end I just needed loads of Cola!  I still need a drip of it now.  The temp is recorded on my GPS device so it is accurate.  33 degrees every single day.  Today we really pushed ourselves and did 93km.  It is hard in this heat with this weight on the bike.  The bikes are doing an excellent job, even when the gravel tracks get really rough.  We can hold our own with the people on their electric bikes!

We are having a big problem trying to find camping gas.  They don’t stock it in supermarkets like they do in France etc.  I never had a problem when I was in Canada or the USA as well.  You ask anyone about small camping gas bottles and they look at you like you have just come from Mars or direct you to the fizzy water isle :).  We have had to have a cold tea at camp today.  But it did not matter cause of the heat.  We have been eating in restaurants previously, because of the gas situ, but we really need to keep an eye on the pounds too.

The route today went through beautiful gorges with castles perched right on the edge.  We saw an opening on the river that was good for a paddle and a wetting of the hair to try and cool our heads.  There have been loads and loads of big birds of prey, heron and fish in the river to spot.

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River Danube Tour Day 2: Finding the source of the great flow

Today we got up early and had breakfast as 0800.  The weather forecast is stating 32 degrees everyday whilst we are cycling but on the bikes the breeze makes it feel bearable.  We were on a bit of a mission to find cooking camping gas.  But we also wanted to go up and see the highest waterfall in Germany the entrance to the walk was literally just across the road, 4 metres away.  The waterfall walk once you go through the gates is about 30 mins.  We did not go up as far to see the 160m drop but we did see the seven cascades.  This was not through any other reason other than we did not know you had to go higher to see the big one! doh.

Once we got on the bikes straight away we were on a 1100m mountain climb and it felt good.  I love nothing better than getting in to an easy gear and pacing a way up a mountain full with luggage.  The bikes handled it superbly and I was so impressed at how easy it was even though in places they were advertising 20%.

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Once on the top it levelled out to nice meadows and beautiful tall trees.  The only thing you could hear at times were the cow bells.  It was just magical!

There has been some disputes over the years as to where the Danube actually starts and the villages of both places have come to a solution.  So there is the start of the highest stream which feeds into the Danube and they class it as the head water of the river.  We were there first as that is the highest point.  This area is called Bregquelle then after 40 odd km’s we came to Donaueschingen.  Here they have a Roman wall where they built a wall around the spring where the streams and river surfaces again, this is called the official start.

It has been one hell of an amazing day of cycle touring.  If you have not been to the Black Forest in Germany you need to get here.  I am having such a beautiful time, if it continues like this it will be a tour that will stay in the brain cells for many years.

 

River Danube Tour Day 1: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Trains, Trains, Auomobiles, Trains, Trains

As I know from doing this kidda thing for the last decade, getting to an awesome place with a bike is probably the most challenging bit.  Riding the route you have planned is the reward for all the effort.

We set off this morning at 0510 and got the train from Sowerby Bridge at 0545 to Manchester Airport.  As we had a big box we bypassed the massive queue and Ryan Air Checkin and was told to go straight to the front, bonus!  Our plane was delayed by about 30 mins, but we had a nice breakfast in the airport so no worries.  We landed at about 1500 local time.

When we landed in Stuttgart we then had to get a taxi from the airport to the train station.  As we had the Bromptons we did not need to wait for the train that I had booked with cycle carriage.  We could jump on any train we liked!!  This would have saved us ab out five hours, but we missed a stopped and had to do a  bit of back tracking, so in the end we only saved a couple of hours, still a bonus.

As the train was getting closer to our destination in Triberg the scenery suddenly changed.  If you have not been to this neck of the woods, sorry forest, Black Forest.  You need to get here quick, it is beautiful and amazing!

Our total journey consisted of:  Taxi, train, plane, taxi, train, train, train, train and taxi.  But it was sure worth it.  We got to our hotel and it is a rite old traditional building.  We got here quite late 2100 so they did some quick and easy bites for us, a couple of G&T’s and an apple strudel with vanilla sauce.  Feeling proper sorted.

Just time now for a shower, as we have been given a free ticket from the hotel to walk up to the highest waterfall in Germany.  So that is the plan for tomorrow morning before we set off on the route.

River Danube Tour: Day 0

Tomorrow we set off on our tour of the River Danube.  As we are restricted on time we are doing half of the official 1800 mile long route.  So we are doing 900 miles from the Black Forest in Germany through Austria, Slovakia then finishing in Budapest the capital of Hungary.  The route goes through many beautiful villages and cities including Vienna.  You can see the official website for the route here:  https://www.danube-cycle-path.com/

An image of some of the gorges we will be navigating

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The plan:  We have our bikes and bags packed up in boxes and tomorrow we make our way to Manchester Airport.  From there we fly to Stuttgart and the get a train to Triburg.  Triburg is a very attractive village in the Black Forest about 12km from the start of the route.

We have about 500m of climbing to do before we reach the route.  As we are starting at the source in the mountains the route generally follows a downward slope, but as we will want to get to the top of some of the gorges for views and villages there are bound to be some hills which will keep me happy 🙂

We are camping along the route with a couple of hotels in the cities even though you could if you wanted to camp in the city as well.  I have also got in touch with some hosts on the cycle hospitality site WarmShowers.  I used these in American and Canada and the hosts were amazing.  If you are looking at doing some touring and want to try staying with a cycle hosts the website is: https://www.warmshowers.org/

We are doing the route on Bromptons.  I will have a rucksack that will sit on the back rack vertically and attached at the seat.  Images of this will follow once we get to Triburg and set up the bikes.  I got the idea to pack this way off another cycle touring site, ‘Path Less Pedaled’ www.pathlesspedaled.com/  It is a good site full of reviews and touring tips.  I have weighed the bags and the front bag is about 15kg the rucksack is 20kg and the bike is 13kg and I weigh about 75kg.  So a total weight of 123kg I will need to drag up the hills.  If you have seen my previous tours you will know that this is quite a lot less than what I have hauled in the past.  The fully loaded tandem with trailer plus 9 year old from Spain springs to mind 🙂

An image of a Brompton set up like ours will be is below.

brompton with bags

I have the Bromptons on a three-month hire as I wanted a long-term test to see if they were able to join the stable of bikes I have.  I can say we are both very impressed with the bikes and we will be getting some of our own.  As they are hire bikes they do not have the full touring spec that I will get on the ones we will buy.  The ones we will get will have the -12% gearing, dynamo lights and the touring P type bar with a raw finish.  Like the one below but with dynamo lights.

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So we are excited by the trip and we are getting the last of the bits together.  I will try and keep a daily blog update of the trip with images and hopefully some video (depends on wifi and data limits).  So our boxes and bags are nearly packed.

 

 

 

Upcoming Rides, Tours and Fundraising

The next few cycling escapades in order of completion include:

April 3rd – April 5th:  I will be undertaking my Advanced Mountain Bike Leader Award.  I already hold the Multi Day Tour Leader Award which is suitable for long tours on the road.  Being able to confidently take groups off the tarmac and into some beautiful, peaceful countryside is the main advantage and incentive of holding the Advanced MTB Award.  Both awards have been led and organised by Cycling UK (CTC).   https://www.cyclinguk.org/courses-and-training.

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May 26th 2018 – May 29th 2018:  Coast to Coast ride (Way of the Roses) with a small group of teenagers.  This will be about twenty young kids tackling the 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington.

July 15th 2018 – July 18th 2018:  Coast to Coast ride (Way of the Roses) with NHGS.  Forty one students will be riding to raise money for their school.  Please donate here  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/NHGSC2C3.  For information on the route click this link:  http://wayoftheroses.info/route.

July 21st 2018 – July 23rd 2018:  I will be doing the 98 mile off road West Highland Way.  For this trip I will be travelling light and doing some proper bikepack bivvying 🙂  You can find information from the official site here.  https://www.westhighlandway.org/.

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July 28th 2018 – August 13th 2018:  Cycle tour of the first half of the river Danube.  Starting in the Black Forest of Germany and ending 1300km later in Budapest, Hungary.  This is the offical site for the route.  https://www.danube-cycle-path.com/.

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As I do the routes I will be blogging more frequently to inform you of the cycling to inspire ideas and trips of your own.