Touring Lite - Jimmy Carter thinks I'm a sinner - CycleBlaze

April 19, 2007

Touring Lite

The watershed of the Rhine (south) and the Danube (north) and highest point of the Eurovélo-6 route. Not breathtakingly high but lofty enough for a neighbouring sign to point to a ski lift.
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That was a big haul over the watershed of the Rhine and the Danube but, boy, was it worth it!

Straight after Tuttlingen we were in the Natuurpark, riding all morning on paths and roads inaccessible to cars, ambling on gentle valleys, staring into ravines and gazing at rock faces that peered down towards us. It has been the most beautiful ride so far and,

Cycle-touring: a free ticket to the best seats in the house.
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still better, there was that complete smugness of knowing that only cyclists and walkers can come this way. After years of feeling the underdog, crowded by huge coaches and incessant cars, assaulted by fat-smelling quick-food bars and trinket shops whenever the scenery turned special, this was like having someone say, "So, you're a cyclist? Here, have a free first-class ticket to the best of the world!"

There's no feeling like it.

It's Touring Lite, though.

Coming across from Basle, we bought a couple of too detailed maps, the first a kilometre to a centimetre and the second a dramatically large 600m. We whizzed across them, of course, but they were useful when we had a chance to choose between the German and Swiss banks of the Rhine and of cutting across country. After that, there were few shops of any sort and certainly nowhere to buy maps. But why bother? This route - which I forecast will become one of the great (and easiest) cross-continental bike rides of the world - has become so brilliantly signposted that you can ride for days without a map.

We have now got one. We bought, for 1€ 99, a specialist cycling map of the Danube from here to Passau. It opens like a calendar and lists camp sites and bike shops among a mass of other information. We don't need it but it's good to have some idea of where we are. Otherwise I can imagine getting as far as Budapest with only a hazy notion of geographical progress.

In areas like Bavaria and Austria, where beer supplies risk being limited, I feel it best to drink it when I can.
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Well, we are in Ulm, a busy little place with a wonderfully richly decorated Rathaus painted in what I think (I can't decipher the German inscriptions) are tales from the Bible. The paintings all look religious, anyway, with lots of naked, pale-skinned women with long hair gazingly longingly at forbidden fruit while holding a hand over their crotch. That and a lot of donkeys.

Last night we camped at a site that hadn't opened. A man with a long grey beard and a face that looked distinctly lived-in told us it'd be OK to pitch for the night if we could get over the problem of their being no running water.

'If anybody questions it, say you spoke to the man with the yellow pick-up,'he said.

'And the long beard,' I added.

Nobody did question it. Then in the morning a woman arrived to check the booking requests that pile in by e-mail. There was no problem about our camping, she said, but who had we spoken to?

'To the man with the yellow pick-up and the long beard,'I said.

'Oh, Werner!', she laughed. 'He's just a former alcoholic who likes to spend his days here drinking apple juice!

There was no one else at the camp site so we had dawn to ourselves.
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