River Danube Tour Day 16: What a trip! 1300km Triberg – Budapest

I realise this final post is a day late, but once we got to Budapest we just wanted to get ready look around the place and celebrate.

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So the final day of riding from Esztergom through Szentendre then into Budapest.  A route of about 75km.  This was the least we had to ride over the final few days.  We were putting in the big kilometre days so the dream of riding the full planned route came to fruition.  The previous days riding took us through some very industrial towns and it was our only grey day of the whole trip so it was just a case of riding.  Our final ride was back to normal again.  Normal which means 35 degree minimum with hardly any cloud cover to give us some shade.  But that is how we wanted the final day of riding.  Sunny and beautiful to help remember such a good trip.  The town of Esztergom is stunning.  They have put beautiful buildings on top of other beautiful buildings so riding out of such a location was a good start to the day.  It gave the ride a good atmosphere.  The route started in some woods which provided the shade we crave but it also gave some stunning scenery to look out on.  The town of Szentendre was our big rest point for the day.  It is an arty town and you can tell as soon as you ride in.  It is a tourist hotspot but for all the good reasons.  Lovely shops and works of art on display.  The street lights have all been covered with traditional lampshades and it makes the place look really funky.  It was a shame we could not see it at night because I bet it would have been a rite spot to chill with a glass of wine.  From Szentendre we only had 24km to go until we got to Budapest, so we had time for lunch which was pittas with various dips and plenty of Coke.  When I walked back outside having paid for our lunch there was a chap chatting to Rachael.  He had seen the Bromptons and wanted some info about our trip as he too was keen on the bikes and he had done a lot of research on them, but wanted a review without the marketing hype.  He was called Jeremy and he had retired in Budapest.  The bikes would be perfect for him to get around the city and take on trains and buses.  We chatted for a while and exchanged details as we could meet up in Budapest for a drink later once we had covered the last little bit. The route went on the road for a little bit again before going back into the woods.  When we were about 6-8km from the centre of Budapest right on the outskirts we came across a strange little tourist hotspot which was just filled with your typical bars, restaurants and sun bathers and pools.  It was heaving with people and it took a while to get around them all.  Then just a little bit further we could see a few big buildings and Budapest already looked impressive.  But then we turned a corner and the city opened up with even more.  We stopped our bikes and just went “WOW”!  The city just looks magnificent, you just notice the detailed and intricate stone/tile work on towers scattered across the skyline.

We navigated straight to the hotel.  We stopped at a place called Hotel Rum.  It is a really nice spot.  After we got ready we went up to the roof terrace for our complimentary G&T.  This started the celebrations.  The view from the terrace was unbelievable and it seemed really surreal supping drinks in an open roof terrace looking over the city.  When we thought about what we had done to get there it seemed really special.  The food looked really nice so we had our evening meal on the terrace as well.  We contacted Jeremy by text and our plans came together, so he came up to our roof terrace and met us for a drink.  We then went down into the streets for another.  It was nice chatting with him and learning about what brought him to the wonderful country/city.

In the morning we woke and had breakfast on the roof.  We then went on a walk around the city to find some cardboard for the bikes.  You can get away with just packing bikes up in plastic bags for the airline but I prefer a little more protection.  Once we found some cardboard outside a closed shop we walked back to the hotel to tape them up.  We still had hours to kill so the hotel looked after our bags and bikes while we went on a stroll.  We walked around had ice creams and went to see a memorial called Shoes on the Danube Bank.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in BudapestHungary. Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

Source:  Wikipedia

After learning and talking a bit about life and the troubles of the past we walked to get some lunch.  On the way we saw a film being made.  Another conversation was started about the effort and money involved in just making a small production.  They had an army of crew, trucks and equipment going all the way down the street.  They had even made a fake hedge to film in front of but the crazy thing was this was made in front of a REAL hedge!!  I don’t know why, maybe a couple of leaves were not facing the correct way.

We walked a bit further and we found this really trendy bar that did food and cocktails.  We had a lovely meal and a couple of beers while chilled dance music played in the background.

When we had finished our meal we had time for one last G&T on the roof terrace before making our way to the airport.

This has been an unbelievable trip!  The bikes have performed without missing a beat.  Rachael is so on board with cycle touring now and she has been creating lists on where we should tour next and equipment she is going to buy for herself so she can join the community of cyclists that tour around every inch of the planet every moment of the day. Rachael had her first experience of cycle hosts through the website http://www.warmshowers.org and now she is looking forward to meeting really cool cycle/travel people through our travels.  Rachael is so cool at this cycling/camping lark.  She just keeps those pedals turning,  superstar!  This trip surpassed my expectations as I thought a river ride my be a bit uneventful considering the mountains I like to ride.  This perception could not have been further from reality.  The gorges and hills that surround most of the route were breathtaking.  We have only done the first half of the Danube.  The rest of the route continues from Budapest to the Black Sea and we are looking forward to planning that next stage.

After my first big cycle trip about 10 years ago I can honestly say in my mind there is no better way to see the world.  You have to problem solve and work together as a team and you are rewarded by seeing amazing sights and meet interesting people who have stories to tell.  If you have not tried cycle touring yet, get out there on a tour, start small if you want to gain confidence.  Trust me the only problem is you wont want to stop!!

 

 

River Danube Tour Day 14: Storm Beaters!

We arrive at our hotel with only 5 mins to spare.  When we were about 10km from Gyor our final destination, fork lightening was coming down in the distance.  The wind picked up and we heard a bit of thunder.  When we were about 200m from our destination the sun came out and we thought we had side swiped another storm.  I saw a hotel and it looked good so went to have a chat at reception about the cost.  As I was in there chatting the sky went black and the thunder roared and the lightening is crashing down with no gap in between.  The thunder is shaking the ground and the rain is lashing.  But we are inside.  I gave Rachael a high-five as we got here dry as a bone!

Today we have done another 120km.  I worked out this morning that to make up our deficit day we needed to do 100km days right to the end.  After chatting with Rachael we realised that she does not like to know the numbers of the day, so today I kept her in the dark and we just kept on riding with no pressure.  I might take this info to school leadership.  No targets and you do more and enjoy what you are doing, now there is a concept we can all get on board with 🙂

Anyway.  Today we have done 120km’s.  I just had to say it again cause Rachael is being amazing.  I did promise her a few days off on this tour, but with the heat we have been chasing the kilometres instead of having rest days.  When we got to Bratislava today I did ask her if she wanted to get a boat or something the rest of the way, she looked at me like I had asked her to jump off a high bridge into the Danube.  When she gave me that look I knew we were right on for riding.  As she had broken her 100km milestone a few days earlier, I was going to see if I could help her with her 100 mile, milestone.  You know what?  If it was not for the storm I think she would have been very happy to carry on a bit further.  But by doing that 120km today we are on track now to ride in to Budapest!  I will be so chuffed if we can do it as it is pushing logistics and planning to the limit to  make this one happen 🙂

By the way.  Today we have cycled through three countries.  We started in Austria, went through Slovakia and now we are in Hungary!  What a day.  Some comparisons about the countries which might be a bit ignorant or stereotypical and I apologise about that if it sounds like I am being rude.  In Germany and Austria they did not take VISA or MASTERCARD in most places.  They like to use an EU card to make purchases.  Slovakia and Hungary, cards no problem.  In Germany the cycle track was mainly gravel, in Slovakia and Hungary so far they have been tarmac.  I am not wanting them to be tarmac it is just an observation.  I think we need to have minimal amount of impact when creating paths in areas of beauty.  In Germany and Austria we never had 4G.  In Slovakia and Hungary we have 4G everywhere.

It is still storms outside, so I am going to get a shower and get out for tea in a nice restaurant.  We have not had beer in the last couple of days as it as been so warm I have been supping cola.  Today we will have a beer to toast another good ride with my good lady!

Cheers 🙂

River Danube Tour Day 12. A big one.

Did not sleep in the city campsite last night, it was one the beautiful town, Grein, but it was right next to a busy road and trucks were going past all night. Also there was a Scout group cycling the route and their staff do not inform the kids how to behave in a campsite and how to respect the paying public so they were screaming and chatting until the early hours. That would not be going on a cyclebudda/NHGS coast to coast. Ours kids would of been perfect!

As we did not sleep we just got up and dismantled camp in about 10 mins. Up and out of there. The place is stunning though. We went to the bakery for breakfast, SPAR store for lunch stuff and the bike shop for oil. All before 0730!

The plan was to do a day and half worth of riding to make up the one day we are behind schedule, we nearly did it by 10km. So I will class that as having done it!!

We were expecting to be at a camp after 102km but the campsite was not there so we had to keep riding on. We did 120km, Rachaels first KM century and just 40km short of a century for the 100 miles too.

It has still been too crazy hot. 36-38 degrees.  As we were going through the hills there were vineyards and orchards everywhere. I have never seen so many different types of fruits been grown in such quantities. Even on the road side, you only need to travel 100m and you would of gone past several plum, apple and pear trees.

Because of the heat I think it is fair to say I am addicted to Coke, I can not go past a store or cafe without getting a bottle to quench my thirst and replace some sugar. If I have put on weight on on this tour. That will be the culprit!

Todays route was Grein, Melk, Krems and we are just 10km short of Tulln. Every town and village was just fairy tale. The buildings around here are very decorative. We got to a beautiful campsite in a sports complex/park type place. It is small and quiet. Perfect.

We made tea. Pasta, pesto, tinned veg and cheese, also perfect. I did have to go on a Coke hunt and not far from camp was a takeaway. Success! Now I have stopped going cold turkey. I need to get an addiction to cold water, it is cheaper!

Last night there were two storms from different directions they missed us again! Every night we have heard them in the distance but we have been lucky. Last night’s sounded vicious and close and I was sure we were going to get drenched. The thunder sounded nasty and each roar went in for ages. If it was right above us I think I would of been bricking it. But as I say, lucky again!

Vienna tomorrow! And also the border into Slovakia. Bratislava if not tomorrow, then defo the day after!

 

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River Danube Tour Day 11: Rachael sees red!

Today we got up early and we just feel so invigorated since crossing the border into Austria.  The bikes are flying because of the well-kept traffic free tarmac cycle paths and we were doing 20-25km an hour.  I know this does not sound fast to a cyclist that blasts around local roads, but whan you are hauling 50+kg trust me, that is good going.  In Germany on the gravel paths we were averaging 13-15 km/h so it has just got us pepped up to kick ass.  In Germany nearly everyone was overtaking us, but here we are over taking everyone.  It has been the usual temp anything from 33 degrees in the morning to nudging 40 in the afternoon.

We have got a good system going now where we take on cola every hour or so and have stops to rest the bum.  This enables us to keep up with the high miles whilst still having time to take in the wonderful views.  To make up our lost day, tomorrow we are going to attempt to do a day and half worth of riding.  We thought this might be a good chance to make it up whilst the terrain is in our favour.

I do have some thoughts about society now though.  There are lots of cyclists since crossing the border into Austria.  The popular route is to go from the border to Vienna, as such there are so many travel companies taking advantage of the situation.  People pay these businesses to carry their bags to hotels that have been pre arranged.  I know they do this in England as well for the Coast to Coast or End to End, but I wonder why people want to leave the planning of a trip to other people.  Is society losing its ability to make their own plans?  Do people always need a rep to make sure everything is organised when they turn up on their bikes?  Well you can count me out of that way of thinking!  I can decide when I want to stop and I can arrange my own campsites/hotels!  I can buy or make my own food!  To sum up, surely we should all be able to look after ourselves!

On another note though that is positive.  This trip we have seen lots of families that are not regular cyclist, just riding with kids of all ages.  Riding along having a blast and proper bonding, being a team, setting up and taking down camp together.

We have seen two groups of kids cycling/camping as a summer camp and as a Scouts group.  The groups have been about 20-30 kids big, but they had two instructors/supervisors and no support vans.  Why do we go OTT with this health and safety thing back home, a lot of the time common sense should prevail!

Today Rachael saw red.  On the first day when we were at the waterfalls in Triberg there were signs for Red Squirrels and Rachael was on look out as she has not seen one before.  She was very unlucky on that day.  BUT today she nearly ran one over.  It came bounding out from the grass and was one foot away from her tyre.  She is very pleased she saw red!

We have made a camnpsite in a town called Grein.  It is so beautiful with its painted buildings it looks like a toy town!  We decided to not cook tonight (again) as the food from the campsite bar looked really nice!  We have had an ice cream and a coffee night cap and looking forward to what tomorrow will bring!

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River Danube Tour Day 10: Wow. Wow. Wow

Today after about 19km of riding time we left Germany.  If you read the last post I was not expecting the ride to be much different.  I could not have been so wrong!  As soon as we crossed the border we were given hills on each side covered with alpine trees and the beautiful natural smell of the pine.  The river was a pale blue and we kept on reminding ourselves of the little stream it started from in the Black Forest of Germany, not far from a little village called Triberg.

Now I know why a lot of people start the tour in Austria, the path is all tarmac, still away from traffic but the surface is stepped up.  In Germany it was like a canal path for a lot of it and it was harder going on the folding bikes.  When we got to Austria’s tarmac though we were flying, not even the electric bike brigade could come past us.

You may ask was it worth the trouble getting to Triberg by public transport to get to the proper source of the river, I will say damn was!  You can not experience the geography and the scale of what happens in the beautiful planet of ours until you see the effect of the surroundings as you ride along.

The Bromptons have come into their own since we got to Austria, we overtook the people on the campsite that left an hour before us which gave us a rite buzz.

I am so surprised by this trip.  It has everything to offer to people who appreciate nature.

We have seen herds of deer, bevy of swans and goats.  Today we had our tea at a traditional hangout, fischenof. We had freshly barbecued mackerel, chips and bread and it was lush. Washed down with some traditional ales and we were well happy.

The good news is Rachael is already talking about our next tour, so it can’t be that bad 🙂

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River Danube Tour Day 9: Auf Wiedersehen Germany

The Germans do like to get up early and this has been signified in the past when the church bells have rung out at 0700.  Rachael did not appreciate it this morning when I bellowed in her ear “Do you fancy some coffee?” as the church bells this morning rang out at 0600.  This got the camp into its usual frenzy of a race to see who can pack up and get off camp first.

We were probably the second group off camp but we backtracked a couple of k for a bought breakfast and coffee from a bakery as we were out of supplies.  The temp was back up to its normal 36-39 degrees but we still managed to get 87km done.

When we found a campsite 10km from Passau we had our usual beer before doing anything.  As we had our beer we saw that all the same people from the last camp had also decided that the extra 10km to Passau was way too much in this heat and also decided to call this their home for the night.

This campsite is really nice, not new, in fact very dated, but it does have an indoor pool and there will be fresh bread and buns available at 0730 in the morning.

Tomorrow after riding about 19km we will leave Germany behind and we will be crossing the border into Austria.  I am sure we will not notice a difference at first but it is a significant moment and one that is a good tick off point and motivator for the rest of the trip.

Rachael would also like you to know that we saw a super cute baby Shetland Pony.

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River Danube Tour Day 7: Messing about on the river

We got up out of our tower after a really nice sleep.  We woke up at about 0600 and went to pay a visit thinking we would be the first up, but these Germans are early risers and the shower block had quite a few people pottering about.  After fixing Rachaels tyre (it had a piece of glass stuck in it) we left the site at about 0900, a bit later than planned.  The temp was showing as 37 degrees on the Garmin in the shade it just felt like it was a blow torch on your back in the sun.

It was a struggle to get to the place where we get the little boat across to the other side.  The boat is the best way as the river as cut a vertical route through leaving no room for a bike path.  So you would have to detour to by-pass the gorge.

When we finally got to the place where we got the boat, we were struck by the complete beauty, there were people swimming and paddle boarding, but it was so quiet and not busy or tacky at all.  It was the perfect place to stay for the day, but we had to get the boat to get to our digs.  It was a bit of a challenge lifting the bikes in but people were there to help and other cycle tourers were taking their bikes as well so I did not feel I was causing any problems.  Just before the boat came a French couple that were also on bikes jumped into the river, I thought I am having some of that.  I wish we could have stopped there all day because as soon as you left the water the blow torch was on full blast.  The French guy told me that the water temp was 28 degrees!!  but it felt cool in contrast to the crazy temperature out of the water.

When we got off the ferry we went to a bike shop for some supplies and the guy behind the counter said their summer is normally 28 degrees.  That temp sounds a lot better hat 36 degrees.  He also said that it is not cooling down at all for the forseeable future.  It is making the riding really difficult and other tourers have said they are not getting the kilometres done that they were expecting to do each day!  I am happy that it is sunny, but a tad bit cooler and I would be happier.

We did end up doing just short of 60 km today and stopped in a beautiful town called Kelheim.  It really is nice.  We had some food at a greek place and now I feel stuffed.  I broke the diet today and had a pastry mid morning and an ice cream on a walk to the bike shop.  We are taking showers whenever we pass one or jumping in the river if a place allows.  I would sum up our progress today as “Just getting through it”.

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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.

 

Cycle Budda Life Ep1

Diary of a Lifestyle Cyclist and Tourer

I have several bikes in my shed, bedroom, cellar and conservatory.  All very different.  A carbon race bike that does not get much use.  A fatbike gets more use than the carbon bike.  A steel utility tourer with Rohloff hub and a cross bike in bits.

This morning I jumped on the steel steed and with all the snowy weather we have had recently a lot of salt has been put down on the roads.  When I jumped on it this morning I knew something was not right.  The Rohloff had spun around and the wheel was twisted.  How? I do not know, it was running fine the last time I got off it!  One thing for sure all the salt put down to combat the snow has not helped, even though I did give it a quick rinse before I put it away a few days ago.  I had to hot foot it back to the shed.  Choices, fatbike, no not this time, people might think I was riding it because of the snow and that had all gone.  Cross bike in pieces, Carbon bike, it will have to be even though I really did not want to.  I justified the decision with the fact carbon can’t rust as far as I am aware.  Now, the race bike had been serviced a few months ago and not been ridden since….. Chain Snap eh oh that is easy to fix.

My point…. I came across the saying the number of bikes you should own is n+1, with n being the current number of bikes you already have.

Now I love this.  I constantly look at bike websites and wish I had most of them.  I am not into slick race bikes anymore so I can give or take them.  But any sexy utility, tourer and everyday bike I am all over it!  But due to space I have been on a mission to find the perfect one bike!  Let me tell you I don’t think it can exist if only for the reason you need another bike to jump on to when your current one fails between your legs.  It is a bit like having an AA membership if you own a car.  You need a conveyor belt of bikes to go through in turn.  One you are riding, one in the workshop and two in ready in the shed waiting to go.  So if you are a lifestyle cyclist that needs a bike for commute, shopping and fun I will put a number on five bikes minimum.

Current Bike Project

The Cannondale cross bike that I have has been to battle with cycle touring and was showing the scars from a couple of coast to coasts and the excellent ride back from Spain on the Velodyssey route.  It was an amazing trip.  My partner her nine year old and myself all the way on the coastal route if you want to see beautiful things and jump in the sea then it is a must do tour.  You can see how we got on in previous posts.  Anyway the bike did an amazing job.  The only problem is that the paint work got a bit tatty.  So I have jazzed it up with a metallic purple powercoat which looks cool.

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It is also getting built up in a different style.  I am going for SOMA Sparrow bars.  MTB 1×11 shifting and Hydro disc brakes.  Brooks saddle.  It will look the bee’s knee’s when it is built up.  Some stuff is just starting to trickle through, so the tools are coming out.

So far the brakes and BB have come.  The handlebars should be here in the next week.  By the end of next week we should of seen some progress that I will share with you.

 

NHGS Cycle Fundrasier

Starting on the 15th July forty two teenage students are cycling the Way of the Roses route, coast to coast from Morecambe to Bridlington.  It is 170 miles over some tough hills in the Yorkshire Dales.  The really cool thing is they are carrying their own gear and cooking their own meals.  Being completely independent and showing grit and resilience.  It is the third time the school has done a coast to coast ride to raise money and the student manage to get about £10,000 each time the ride has run.  Please show your support to the students and donate on their Money Giving Page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/NHGSC2C3 Please share this link with as many people as you can, the students will really appreciate it.

Eyewear

If you are in need of sport eyewear that has removable lens and can be made prescription please consider these specs from Sunwise.

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The profit, around £15 for each pair will go towards the C2C ride above.  Please contact:  Stewart Mitchell (Eyecare) LLP, 81 Godwin Street, Bradford, BD1 2SH, Call 01274 723362, http://sidneyfraser.co.uk/

Here to Help

I may be able to assist you in the following ways:

  1. You want to dust off your old bike and commute to work but want to build up some confidence.
  2. You would like a guided tour around Calderdale/Yorkshire.
  3. You want help setting up a local cycle club.
  4. You want to set up and host a cycle fund raising activities/event.

e-mail me at djugroop@gmail.com and we can talk about your cycling requirements.  No harm in asking to see what we can do!

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.