Day 1 – Saturday 29 August.
Distance: 1.15 miles; time: 00:00:00; Average speed: 0mph; Max speed: 0.0mph
Not a particularly auspicious start to the holiday – I’ve had a stomach bug since Wednesday. James got it too but recovered within 24 hours. With me it’s lingered on rather longer and although I’m no longer needing to be within shouting distance of a loo, I don’t feel very much like eating and feel quite weak. Not the best start to a cycle tour!
The lovely PippaG from YACF agreed to come with me on this expedition. Everything is sorted for our outward journey, including the details of the seven trains (got that? SEVEN trains!) from the Hook of Holland to Bamberg. We have all the relevant train tickets (both Dutch and German, including an International Bicycle Ticket for each bike) as well as the ferry booking for the outward journey. But after we arrive in Bamberg we’re playing it by ear. The plan is to cycle along the Main until it merges with the Rhine, stopping off at lots of lovely towns and villages of course. When we hit the Rhine we will cycle northwards (downstream) past all the lovely castles, Lorelei, great villages and towns, until we get bored or run out of time. Latest return ferry trip would be Thursday 10 September as I need to be on dog-sitting duty after that as my husband is going sailing to Ostend.
So, preparations for this tour are well organised. With two of us we can reduce slightly the number of tools we individually need to take and we’re going to check through all we have when Pippa gets here so we don’t duplicate stuff. I have packed almost exactly the same equipment as for my last tour (with the tools as a possible exception) but this time have much nicer Vaude panniers with a bit of spare room so I don’t need the rucksack that I had last time – a cloth bag will do for when I’m walking around town.
The weather forecast is so far looking fairly favourable, not too rainy and fairly warm. It’s hard to know what clothing to take on a tour like this, and I’ve probably got more than I need (five cycling jerseys, for example, of different thicknesses and sleeve lengths), but they’re light to carry so I’m not too bothered. This is Pippa’s first cycle tour and in preparation she has bought herself a new bike (I like her thinking!) and some smart Ortlieb panniers, which are smaller than mine, but she’s clearly better at packing and more organised overall to get all her stuff in them. This time I haven’t taken a German dictionary as I didn’t use it last time… and I’ve just realised that with a computer malfunction we had I’ve lost the list of bike parts in German provided to me by my Uni German teacher. Oh well, I can probably work out how to describe the part if anything goes badly wrong.
Our ferry crossing is at a quarter to midnight but we can get on the boat from 21:15. Due to my feeling poorly we’re going to go to Harwich by car with the bikes in the boot. This is a bit of a bad start to a cycle tour which I was hoping to do entirely by public transport but I don’t want to wear myself out before the Dreaded Day Of Trains tomorrow.
…So, Pippa duly arrived, we ate and then went by car to Harwich. We were dropped off in a car park just before the Ferry port, reassembled the bikes, watched some local Essex lads doing stupid driving and then set off on our mammoth cycle to the Ferry. About a quarter of a mile.
We were on the boat by 9:30pm and I went straight to bed, having washed out my clothes. The bike fitted better in the storage room with its narrower axel bolts so that was well worth it.