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1000kms and counting!
In our last stretch from Ulm to Regensburg we broke the 1000km mark, having covered 1140km in 13 riding stages. It is strange how it feels like we’ve known each other much longer than two and a half weeks.
Each day is filled with so many new experiences that it would seem we’ve been traveling forever. I account this to the nature of cycle touring. There’s no displacement effect. When you travel by plane, train, car or bus, you just wake up in a completely foreign place.
Whereas traveling by bike stimulates all of your senses. As the temperature, geography, vegetation, language and culture change over distance, you witness it all.
At this point of the tour I have had some reflective conversations with my clients, where we compare what we have seen here to the worlds we left behind. Whether they come from a North American, Australian, South African or European descent it’s a much more modernized place than the small rural communities that we’ve been traveling through. The modern world has been designed to be disposable and convenient, from big box stores, fast food and mobile homes. Technological advances have made everything smaller, lighter and faster making the pace of life much quicker than it is here. It would almost seem that people here are behind the times. But that’s a first impression that I believe is incorrect. Here if you order beer or a coffee in an open market it comes in a frosted stein or an antique porcelain cup. The buildings here may seem old or worn down but they have been standing for much longer than anything back home. Craftsmanship is a trait that has been passed on from father to son and it might take generations to complete a single structure. The materials used are timeless, stone, brick and mortar, not vinyl siding and ply wood. The cobbled city streets are not closed to be repaved every five years. Cities are designed to cater to the bicycle not the automobile. Things may take a little longer but you must consider the quality of life not the quantity or speed of transactions.
I have really enjoyed the last 3 riding days because it’s a new route that I did not travel in the inaugural OE 05. We’ve actually left the Danube to find some even more scenic bike paths that follow the Altmuhl River just to the north. Cycling conditions have been great. For the most part it’s been all sunshine and tailwinds. We have woken up to rain each morning, but it has subsided by the time we packed our tents. The Altmuhl is very similar to the upper reaches of the Danube lined by huge cliffs and dense forests. Germany, more than any other country we travel through, has a large canoeing culture. I’ve been envious to dip a paddle as I ride past hordes of people floating downstream in Old Town Tripper’s and Discovery’s. Unfortunately there’s no time for that.
Our rest stop today is in Regensburg, a World Heritage Site and a new destination for me. It received its heritage status based on the age of the city. Although we have visited several towns with magnificent structures, Regensburg has an amazing and historical townscape. The downtown core is filled with many ancient churches, stables and simple homes and linked in a maze of stony alleyways. Last night I ran into many of my clients who were out enjoying the nightlife of outdoor cafes and bars. I think they’re moving a little slow today. But it’s definitely a well deserved day of rest. Tomorrow we head out on the Danauradweg again on our way to Austria, country number 3.
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