Well, no-one is more surprised that me to say that I am really enjoying the cycling. Not every moment, I’ll admit – some days, some hours are easier than others. Overall, playing the averages, it’s a mighty fine way to get about!
Carl, needless to say, is doing what he was born to do.
The sense of freedom when we have when cycling through a field of flowers, stopping to watch a river barge go by or sitting on a bench eating lunch, wondering where we will stop tonight – sometimes it feels like we are the only two people in the world.
Other times, the wind blows really, really hard (never on your back for some reason) and the rain clouds loom, or the campsite you had planned to stop at turns out not to be a campsite, but a place to park caravans… then you’ve got to find a little more inside, to keep your chin up, to keep smiling – or at the very least, keep pedalling!
Preparation for cycling:
We purchased our bikes in a shop in Bonn; Carl has researched bikes for the past 6 months, and landed on the Radon bikes. Their components are top quality, the bikes are assembled in Germany, and are sold directly from the manufacturer to the public, with the overall price coming in way less than the big brand names on the market. Upon arrival at the Radon store, we were very well taken care of, with a number of goodies thrown in for free – they were very impressed that we had travelled such a far way to buy their bikes! The bikes are what is known in Germany as a German Trekking Bike – essentially what is known in Australia as a hybrid: Mountain bike frame, 29″ wheels, front shock, lights, mudguards and racks. All kitted out and ready to go touring.
We also needed to pick up the last few camping gear items and maps, so we went to the Cologne Globetrotters store. An amazing 4 or 5 storeys of camping and travel gear. Carl’s idea of heaven…
We stayed in Cologne, with a lovely Italian family who welcomed us with open arms, not only did they cook for us each night, but sent us cycling with a little care package of the most delicious cake and biscuits.
Ironically, the first cycle on our bikes (from the Radon shop to Bonn station, approx. 8km) was in pouring rain. I had famously said I never wanted to cycle in rain, well… there it was!
All our luggage miraculously fitted on the bikes and despite initially getting quite a shock at how heavy the bikes felt loaded up, and having a “what the heck have we just gotten ourselves into” moment. We got off to a wobbly start, but quickly mastered the art of riding a loaded up bike. Carl’s luggage weight is approximately 25-30kgs and mine is around 20-25kgs. (Possibly too much camera and computer gear….)