For the statistics hungry reader I have posted the table containing all the hard facts from the trip here. For those who just want the short summery we have been sitting on the saddle for in total 137 hours with an average of almost four and half hour per day.
The total length of our trip, including some detours such as Rügen in Germany and the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania, was 2698 kilometres with a daily average of 87 kilometres per day, if we exclude our two days off the saddle this figure is 93 kilometres per day:-)
I will post the final driven route when I get near a normal computer mouse instead of the clitoris pointer – yeah in Russian slang the small red mouse inside the keyboard as seen on Lenovo and Dell computers is called a clitoris. Funny:-)
How does it feel to have biked 2.698 kilometres the last 31 days? Just f****** great!
We drove towards and into Esbjerg in its most common state (see below picture); overcast, threatening clouds, strong wind gusts from the west, wind turbines turning fast in the wind and a harbour that never sleeps. That is how I have known Esbjerg, will know it and how I like it. Esbjerg is like miners deep down in the shafts in compare to Copenhagen’s hub of high-rise clerks.
This was our goal this morning, when we left our hotel at eight fifteen, ate breakfast and began spinning our pedals at a few minutes to nine. Six kilometres after we crossed the last border on our trip – the border to Denmark (see the pictures below). I still remember a time where we had to show passports but now the only sentinels are sex and liquor shops. Good the same!
Unfortunately I cannot make this following statement without sounding like a patriotic junk head, but anyhow the last months experience tells that the best bicycle roads we have been driving on are in Denmark, period! This fact and the fact that we had a good amount of tailwind meant that we drove like being on EPO to Ribe where I had yet another puncture. Typical.
It was a strange feeling to drive into the driveway on Strynøvej after being on the road for so long. It was both a nice feeling and a sad feeling. Sad because the trip came to an end as quickly as it begun. But in my world ends does not exit they only lead to new things. It was nice to see my mum and cousin greeting us in the entrance. Nice to get eat familar food. I think you guys got the idea;-)
So, now you probably think you got rid of me spamming you with blog posts about the one boring detail or the other. No, you don’t, sorry. Being the geek I am – I will find pleasure in posting some statistical information about our trip and hopefully also some highlights.
So stay tuned the following days. As said the trip never ends.
Today we hit the one ”month on the road” mark and it is just after midnight when I am writing this. My left eye is closing its lid at random and I am really looking forward to dig into my bed in our ferry cabin style cheap hotel (Etap Hotel Flensburg). However I want to tell you guys about today’s leg.
Probably the worst leg so far – so many things went wrong:
Six kilometres out of Plön I got a puncture on my rear wheel.
A few kilometres before Kiel yet another puncture on the same wheel!
Finding our way out of Kiel was difficult and set us back quite some time (street signs are made for cars not for bicycles).
Yet the same trouble of finding our way happened again in Schleswig – of all places. Honestly speaking I cannot understand how we could fuck up finding our way in a city the size of my pocket, but I guess it must have been a combination of a very bad road map – made for cars and confusing sign posts for bikes?!
Such episodes really got on my nerves especially the finding way issue, which in Eastern Europe had been no problem, since there basically are no highways, no bicycle lanes (almost) and no roads where bicycles are not allowed (and the driver’s do not care), thus we just followed the normal car maps. In Germany this strategy was useless.
Today I was really focused and got up early so we where ready at 9.10 for action, so in theory we had plenty of time, but it was all eaten away so the last hour towards Flensburg we were driving against the clock or rather against the sunset (see the video).
Not optimal at all, but on the other hand those are the circumstances when you are outdoors in the autumn.
Tomorrow will be the final leg – and maybe even the toughest, since strong winds are to be expected. 14 meter per second they say from south west and we are heading north west:-)
The above picture is taken at lunch time – here we thought we had plenty of time left for reaching Flensburg.
It was kind of symbolic that we managed to cross the border between former East and West Germany on the anniversary day of their reunification some 21 years ago. We were only sad that on our chosen road from Wismar to Lübeck there was no trace of the old border any more, or at least, we could not find it (below is my best guess of the approximate location). What we did see was a lot of motorbikes and also a few Trabant’s – damn it is good the production of this disaster-car has ended.
We did not see much of Lübeck since our goal was a lot further or if you ask my dad – because the bicycle lanes in Lübeck were of such an uneven and poor quality that we were looking down all the time. Honestly speaking he was right and not only about Lübeck, but it goes for many parts of Germany and Poland so far. In places where the bicycle lanes goes onto the sidewalk there is often a raised edge of around five to ten millimetres which is exchanged with a bump. Doing twenty or so bumps per kilometre then you begin hating these in-city bicycle lanes.
For many days I have felt that it is important to thank all the nice Germans we have met for their help and friendly attitude. This is not to say that all the people we have met in all the other countries we have been through have not been nice; because indeed they have. Still I think Germans tend to be extra helpful in many situations. Let me take two examples.
We were standing just on the Rügen side of the Rügen Bridge with our big road map unfolded trying to figure out where to go. An elderly couple driving their bicycles far behind us stopped immediately when they saw us and the husband (I guess) began recommending the best and least trafficked roads.
In another example we were driving in an deserted industrial area when I dropped my bicycle jersey without taking any notice since it was fastened to my luggage carrier. A car passing by slowed down to our speed and the guy on the passenger seat opened his window, put his head out and spoke out load that I lost something further back.
Such nice behaviour seems to be the standard in the part of Germany we have been biking in. I wish I could say the same about my fellow Danish citizens, which I cannot:-( Let it be a reminder to myself as well!
To summarize today’s leg; one hundred kilometre of cultivated farmland and ten kilometre of city presented in good weather. Oh one word more we probably found the oldest hotel in Plön totally run down although with a lake view. My guess is that this hotel will be gone in ten years time.
Today became a record leg of 146 kilometres via Rostock where we had a short lunch break. While sitting in the saddle I came to think about what it actually takes to drive such a distance in nutrition terms. So for fun I have summarized the consumption below:
2 x 175 gram packages of yoghurt (breakfast)
0,5 litre of juice (breakfast)
3 rolls with cheese/red paper and sausage (breakfast and lunch)
1 wafer snack
1 medium size soft ice (pre-lunch)
0,5 litre of chocolate milk
Around 1,5 litre of water
Even with such a high calorie intake I was still hungry upon arrival in Wismar and had plenty of room for a three dish dinner;-) Stepping away from today’s food focusing we had one of the best and strongest (= good legs) rides so far with good weather and superb roads and since it was Sunday almost no traffic at all. I think we saw only ONE truck at all during our ride today. Admittedly the first maybe 15 kilometres we were almost flying on a bicycle road made on a former railway line.
The trip from Rostock to Wismar was a great ride with excellent speed in nice hilly surroundings. My legs really did not take notice that we were running above the hundred kilometre mark.
We did not stay in Rostock long enough to claim anything about the city, but Wismar looks from first hand like a really cosy city with a lot of old buildings surrounded by a city wall. After asking a few hotels which were fully booked I ended up being directed to a inexpensive guest house (Chez Fasan) with a very friendly hostess and excellent location. The only draw backs was the usual Germany third world country ideas that declares that they almost never take neither Visa nor MasterCard and worst of all – there is never any Internet.
Tomorrow we hit the road to Kiel – some 120 km hopefully;-) But let us see – the weather seams to take a tougher stance the closer we to Denmark.
After a fantastic breakfast in The Old Bank, yeap they even had the old vault made some half a hundred years ago, we took a short boat trip to Jasmund National Park north of Sassnitz to see some steep and beautiful chalk cliff’s (see below). I guess we must have been the luckiest guys on the planet this morning because one could not even find a cloud with a microscope and there was so little wind that all the windmills were stopped. The view from the ship today was awesome!
We first started the biking part of today in the afternoon and the first maybe forty kilometres went smooth and quickly on the main road, but the last five kilometres took forever because we were forced to leave the main road for another bicycle route going along the sea and that meant shit quality bicycle roads. The five kilometres turned into maybe twelve kilometres and took around an hour, but on the other hand we found a super spot with a bench for lunch;-)
Driving the last kilometres towards Stralsund was a very pleasant experience – the Sun was baking as hard it can in the beginning of October. The spires of the cathedrals in Stralsund were like soft dark shadows above the foggy waters of the Baltic Sea.
Just after crossing the bridge from Rügen to Stralsund the idea about going to the city of Ribnitz was abandoned and we almost immediately found a guest house – a four story building painted in light red with a big banner showing 11,90 EUR per person. As always it was not that cheap, but almost and the quality was good together with the proximity to the old city. We were so close to the Stralsund high bridge that we had to look up on it from our windows:-)
Lots of paving stone roads.
Sun and above twenty degrees centigrade.
Karl Marx – Das Kapital; bought it in its original language.
The Old Bank – a really nice guest house.
Admitted – I was a bit pissed part of the day (until we reached The Old Bank).
Off topic; I sold my car and got my money;-)
The waiter; once Sassnitz had twenty thousand inhabitants, now many have left because there is no work.
Those were the sentences for today’s leg however I will add some more words on German bicycle culture and bicycle roads – that is I will probably most of all say something about the latter. If you want from A to B in Germany most likely there will be some kind of designated path for bicycles – if you can find it. If you can figure out on which side of the road you should drive or where the bicycle lane actually will take you? And if it will take you where you need – in which state will the path be in?
From A to B goes superb German high-quality road X, but on this road you are not allowed to drive – but this can sometimes be guesswork until some drivers begin using the horn at you. Remember here that German’s are extremely polite unless you break THEIR rules. Okay, you want to go fast from A to B, but you cannot take the combustion engine road X, so it is nice that you have a bicycle road or is it.
NO, because the bicycle road is likely to be substantial longer and your zig-zagging from A until B will most likely punish you with paving stones, gravel roads or some concrete slaps laid out on the surface in an uneven pattern. Conclusion; you do not go anywhere fast and you get pissed while dreaming about the main road X.
The basic idea; bicycles lanes must be as good as any other road!
Status as of today is that we have biked 2018 km, have now arrived to Germany – our last foreign country on this trip and my legs are fit for fight. I am tired but it is primarily due to all the sun we have been licking today since the weather was just wonderful. I hope you also get that impression by looking at the pictures.
We entered Germany from Poland on kind of a bicycle highway – no cars were allowed and the bicycle lane was so broad that 4 bikes could pass each other. The direction of traffic was almost only from Germany and into Poland:-) On the border the old poles with barbed wire were still standing but the wire had been removed and the two countries had made a small nice monument showing the border. In addition the Germans had installed some solar panels which in this late summer sun were producing at 4,5 kW of power.
The next twelve kilometres was something like one big city – one big ”Seebad” (literally Sea Bath when translated from German). The bicycle lane continued but it required firm attention to avoid hitting pedestrians, children and off track and careless bikers. I was amazed I had no idea that this was such a tourist magnet especially taking the season into account. Okay most of the tourists looked like long-time retires.
Our intermediate goal was Peenemünde, which during the Second World War was the secret research and development station which developed the V1 missile and V2 rocket under leadership by Werner von Braun. For me this place is somewhat special since, amid the horrors and devastation created by the armed weapons, this was the birth place of modern space flight. A direct line goes from Peenemünde to the enormous Moon rocket Saturn V and the Soyuz rocket used by the Soviets and now Russia. The museum was situated on the grounds of the stations power station and when we visited the Baltic Youth Philharmonic orchestra was doing rehearsals in the old turbine hall which could be heard all over the museum thereby creating a special mood. What made it more funny was that the same orchestra was playing on the ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn when we began our journey.
With the Sun in our eyes we speed up and left Peenemünde on gravel roads to Wolgast and then to the university city of Greifswald which we entered just after sunset. I am writing this just after dinner (we made food ourselves) and I have to say this was one of the more memorable days – Germany is amazing in many ways.
The German news is now rehearsing today’s big Euro debt crisis first aid package on television for the tenth time – I think it is time to sleep:-)
Today’s entry consists of a video report from after our arrival at the destination – enjoy (in Danish only). On the below picture a cat in Rewal is claiming ownership rights to my pannier bag.
Above picture: The free ferry service between the two parts of Świnoujście.
Tomorrow we will enter Germany thus pricing for the same quality will double:-(
In continuation of the yesterday’s de-tour we again did it; drove down a road until it was blocked by a military installation. This time it happened near Mrzeżyno where we had hoped we could take the more direct road to Rewal, instead we ended up driving four kilometres on paving stone to the check-point and back again. ”Happy New Year” as one of my colleagues would have said?! Why the heck is the military areas not shown on the maps here in Poland or they could at least have omitted the roads totally to avoid confusion.
Apart from the above we had marvellous weather and since a great part of today’s road was very close to the touristy Baltic Sea we had a chance to enjoy our lunch on some logs directly on the beach – could it be more wonderful?
It was very clear that our destination Rewal must be a lively city in the summer season – however today on the 27th September the streets and squares where empty. Most shops and guest houses were closed and the few open grocery shops had unplugged their fridges with beer to save power (thus no cold beer to be bought). With this in mind it was a big laugh when I checked one of the more prominent hotels; they still claimed the price for the high season. Our third try was up (down) to our standards and we thus checked into Dom Wczasowy Idylla on Saperska 16 where we were greeted by a friendly lady. The house itself was an old nicely renovated building from before the Second World War with stairs squeaking when walking on them – perfect!
And I even did not mention the nice service in the local restaurant California in which live music was performed even though there were no guests (almost).