West of Egg, just outside a village known as Stadel
August 29th 7:30am - Blearing through sleep filled eyes the raw beauty of my campsite began to come in to focus, my ears consciously picking up the sound of the river merrily flowing on by. I felt happy and terribly well rested after the mammoth journey of the previous day.
Having travelled so far so quickly I chose to be a little slower in gathering my thoughts and possessions before hitting the road again. As the water in my kettle bubbled and boiled I grabbed my milk from where it lay across the back seat of the bike, to fill my coffee. Glancing at the milk I did a double-take noticing something inside the milk... it was a large number of "bits". I had no idea what it was until I looked properly at the cap and noticed the teeth marks and a gaping hole in the centre. Some cheeky critter had gotten lucky in the night and helped themselves to my Frische Alpen Milch.
With a black coffee and a now emptied milk bottle, I looked at the map whilst sat at the waters edge and made my choice. Back to Germany!
As I headed towards Germany, just on the other side of Egg I couldn't resist but stop and take a photo of an Opel garage. On the face of it and the sum of the words it seems as though this is a mighty odd thing to do but bare with me. It seems that it is such a regular thing to have a car garage that not only sells modern vehicles but also has a collection of historic and iconic vehicles on display. Being a true petrol head and loving all things mechanical I had to stop and finally enjoy one of them.
A little later that day,having stopped on a mountain side, soaking in the glorious views that lay before me. Rolling hills fading in the haze of the sun, with farmers sure to be out cutting grass, moving cattle and chopping trees I ate my breakfast and drank another coffee. But for the first time I felt peaceful, grateful but slightly uneasy. Ultimately I didn't know why I felt like I did, only that I did feel uneasy right to the pit of my stomach. Perhaps it was the lack of speaking to people with my own language, perhaps it was my diet of crackers and salami or maybe it was the heat.
I was loathe to leave the tranquillity of the hillside, especially on a Tuesday morning. With it being mid-week I was completely un-disturbed despite essentially being at the bottom of an Austrian's driveway, but sadly leave I must. Soaking in the view one last time after packing my things away incredibly slowly. I swung my leg over the bike. My thumb pressed the starter firing the little piston into action, heading off once more, towards the German border.
South West of Sulzberg on Widum
Having crossed the German border and growing braver with each day, I parked outside a motorcycle dealership and ventured inside. It was odd as I couldn't see anyone I would identify as an employee and so freely wandered around completely uninterrupted. Upstairs I cam across classic Norton race bikes and hoards of reefs and trophies dating back to the 1960's. It was so unexpected but fantastic to see, if you are ever in Weiler-Simmerberg then take a visit to Motorradhaus Gruber for sure!
Standing outside of Motorradhaus Gruber, I came to the realisation I didn't really want to head back to Germany yet as it felt too much like heading home and I didn't want to go home yet. I was after all only half way through my trip.
A quick scan of the map on my phone and I turned back towards Austria, this would again prove to be one of my great decisions made without real thought or consideration.
Riding back through Austria westwards towards Lake Konstanz found me, what was without doubt my favourite road of the whole trip. It was perfectly twisty allowing me to use all of Jess' (what I began to affectionately refer to my bike as) 125cc's.
Sticking a leg out motor-cross style, braking late or not at all and hauling all of my luggage this way and that as I wove my way between hairpins, through trees and finally beginning to have Lake Konstanz open up into my view ahead of me was sublime. So much so I got to the bottom and had a real deflation of "oh is that it?". So turned round, road back to the top and back down again!
The L11 was an incredible piece of tarmac, one that made me so happy to be on yet oddly homesick as I knew so many of my friends would want to have experienced it and also me experienced it with them.
Getting to the bottom I chose to ride along side Lake Konstanz as much as I could as was sensible to do so. With the sun reflecting off the water, the heat rising and seeing hundreds of folks in summer wear made me ache for no riding gear and I did contemplate not wearing any while riding.
The thought of sliding down the road and not being able to communicate effectively with any emergency service staff soon put a stop to that thought. I opened the vents a little wider and finally took shelter almost along the shores of Lake Konstanz with my bike under trees and me on a bench in shorts and t-shirt. My mouth salivating looking at the ice cream stand and I felt content watching couples who may be someone's grandparents sit quietly, and look at people enjoy themselves on the water. Kids running riot through the grass being chased or merely shouted at by parents for one reason or another or groups of friends catch the sun lying on towels.
It was humbling to watch them go through their motions of their lives, in that moment I felt so happy with my own life and what I was doing, sharing it with them without ever being directly involved.
I grew more anxious of learning how to say "Please may I have an Ice-cream" in German, especially as the queue never dispersed in the whole time I sat and watched, and so I sadly did what I knew how to do without any anxiety creeping in. Ride.
Viewpoint in South Germany, looking towards Lake Konstanz
My thoughts changing towards the evening and when I might stop or where I might camp, I stopped at a petrol station where I managed to finally buy an ice cream and help satisfy the craving I had been riding with for a few hours. With the satisfaction and a substantially increased ability to think I managed to start making a plan.
Deciding on a BBQ for an evening meal, I mumbled my way through the Lidl checkout, trying to do as little speaking as possible knowing full well I wouldn't be able to answer anything that was asked of me. With the result of not being challenged in my purchases, I then had the trouble of stacking two cans of Fuerstenberg beer, a disposable BBQ and a pack of bratwurst on what was an increasingly overloaded learner bike by all accounts!
With bungees straining tight and panniers bulging I zipped along taking care to look at any potential spot to camp. After enjoying a downhill section, not only for sweeping curves sewn together as though they had been tailor-made for my trip but also the cover of trees who's large branches offered incredibly welcome shade to hide from the suns unrelenting rays. I popped out back into the sun with a beautiful area of flat lands alongside a river with cliff face one side, the trees on the hillside I had just descended from on the other. A slap bang in the middle a sun that had begun receding leaving one of "those perfect evenings".
Just off the L277 northeast of Beuron. The bridge crosses the Danube river
I sat and drank beer while sizzling my sausages on the BBQ with every intention to move on afterwards to somewhere I might actually be able to string my hammock as the flat fields certainly didn't have many offers!
Unfortunately (or fortunately) the German's brew beer very well and by the second can I rapidly started to feel light-headed. With the grass looking more inviting than it had previously I attempted to make my hammock span the two spindly apple trees to no avail.
Thankfully my DD hammock can also double as a bivi bag when needed, it was the first time I had used it in such a fashion but with all evening to kill I managed to get a set up that was practical, cosy and almost ended up being comfortable!
A dusky Danube river, the light was just so meaning the reflections make it hard to tell where the trees end and the river starts. (Right)
Home sweet home. The backdrop looks even more imposing with the house on the hill posing a great juxtaposition with my basic accommodation.
Mileage at the end of Tuesday August 29th - 12,084
With an uneventful morning apart from cold bratwurst that had been cooked the night before I set off. I stumbled across one road I will endeavour to remember on future trips. The L404, heading south west from Freudenstadt the tarmac flows left, to right, back to left with trees lining the road on both sides. On camber to adverse camber it was brilliant... only half way along it was closed.
My feeble attempts to navigate round on roads that looked very much as though I shouldn't be there, especially at the point of realising the road didn't go anywhere and I was in fact in somebody's front garden.
A huge loop ensued meaning I went back some 15-20km down the L404 to connect to the L405. Following this down to Schiltach, along to Oberwolfach it was here I realised I had already been down this road.
I remembered the sign for the "Bruno's Motorradbühne", A motorbike museum. Yet another U-turn to add to the unmemorable amount already accrued on the trip and I handed a few euros over while sweating profusely. It was easily the most humid day so far the sweat was quite literally running off me. I struggle to handle the heat usually but this was something else!
What didn't make things any easier was the fact the museum was in fact much more akin to a dusty attic above a visitor centre meaning it was surely a few degrees warmer than it was outside!
Albeit there were some interesting motorcycles on display but the heat was beginning to become unbearable and the only modicum of respite was the wind hitting you while riding at 30mph or more.
Clambering back into already soaking bike gear at 2pm in the afternoon was by no means a highlight, but very much a means to an end. My skin longing for a cold shower almost as much as I expect anybody who came within a few feet of me did.
With a little bit of online searching I found Grüner Hof, situated bewteen Zell and Oberharmersbach, which offered a room for £32 for the night which considering I booked 15 minutes before arrival I took as being reasonable. Other hotels in the local area wanted nearly or more than double!
It was popular with bikers and seemed to be on a popular biking road. While sitting outside, freshly showered and changed, myself and some bikers from the Netherlands all enjoyed watching a street-fightered bike tearing through the town at well above the speed limit. It's 4 cylinder engine with short exhaust made a fabulous noise as it did so, reverberating off the buildings and echoing as it continued it's journey. A rather rotund German fellow whom was eating outside with I
presume his wife, certainly didn't enjoy it and shook his head while muttering into his dinner!
There were 2 groups of 3 bikers all from the Netherlands and the first group asked the usual travelling questions, where was I from and what had I come on. I wish I had captured their disbelief in a photograph as they realised I had travelled from the South West corner of the UK, down to Germany and beyond on my trusty 125.
If you ever decided to stop at the Grüner Hof, or indeed anywhere that offers the same meal I can thoroughly recommend a Bauerschnitzel mit Spiegelei und Speck. It translates as lumberjack Schnitzel, essentially breaded, fried pork served with bacon and fried eggs. Washing it down with the Ketterer beer brought about a fantastic evening.
Little did I know it would peak and trough. After my second Stein of beer, I was feeling slightly merry and was then invited to join the second trio of travellers from Holland. One of them motioned for me to sit with them and said "Come on, nobody should be alone". His name was Rob, and with Bernard and Herb spent all night drinking and talking about everything from politics, to travel, to romance and back again.
They made me feel so welcome and I would otherwise have had a quiet night, they did let me into a bit of knowledge regarding the weather however. Apparently bad weather was heading to the region, so much so they were cutting their trip short because it wasn't likely to get much better for the next couple of days.
After giving me their map of the area, showing me a good road or two to take in before leaving and 5 Steins down (equivalent of 10 pints) along with a couple of vanilla cigars I was more than ready for bed.
I paid my bill and bounced off the walls of the hallway to my room with rain and wind hammering the chairs and windows outside. I was feeling like once again on the trip, I had gotten lucky.
Myself (far right), Rob (Left) and Bernard (right) enjoying our drinks