Time Keeping

Day 8.

We slept soundly and were very happy to have slept in a warm dry room. ‘ Deutsches Haus’ you served us well and were very hospitable for tour-cyclists.

We had a 10:03 train to catch, so left early enough for a quick supermarket stop, before arriving at the station at 9:33. It seemed the station was a little closer than we thought. In fact it seemed that the terminal was a lot closer than ninety percent of the travelling locals thought. There were quite a few of us standing there waiting for the train. It arrived at 9:53, we all in a very orderly, sullen and quiet manner lined up and boardered the train. We all sat in perfect silence for ten minutes and watched the clock tick over, then at exactly 10:03 the train softly closed its doors and rolled off down the tracks.

I was stunned and smacked straight back into culture-shock. Everyone quietly embarked the train ten minutes early and sat soundlessly there waiting. I kid you not, no one boarded in those ten minutes, no one was running late, no one was jumping on the carriage with cheeky last minute smiles. If they all knew the trains ran like clockwork, why oh why did they all arrive ten minutes early? This perfection was seriously searing my sanity and killing my nerves. For me it takes chaos to find peace. Incidently such perfection isn’t all evil, I was genuinely thankful for this modern train with its level bicycle-friendly entrance.

We changed trains in Rostock. In the next train the cycle carriage was right by the disabled peoples seating and the toilets. To my absolute delight the lock on the toilet door was broken and rattled all the way to Kiel. At last Germany was being nice to me and giving me something damaged, something slightly chaotic to relax my culturally frayed nerves. It was an utterly pleasant trip all the way into Kiel.

We rode around Kiel’s uniformed cycle-paths, stopping briefly at the ridiculously expensive YHA youth hostel, before we decided to keep to plan A and cycle out of town to a camping-ground. About four kilometres into the ride whilst cycling side by side up a hill, Sharon and I looked at each other and said ‘we could get used to this, we could do more of this’. Without knowing it, right there and right then a seed had just been sown for a rather large cycling adventure.

We stopped at a supermarket, purchased some pastries from within the shop and then purchased some delicious fries from a very friendly immigrant, laughing and cooking from his tired-looking caravan. With bellies full, we continued cycling to Campingplatz Möltenort. We met some grumpy cycling man on the way, it seemed to us that he was telling us that we couldn’t cycle any further. My map said otherwise, I was feeling confidently arrogant, so we just ignored his advice and carried on.

The camping-ground had a large open field with a sunny and a shady side. I was hoping to pitch where the morning sun would quickly dry our tiring tent, but alas this was Germany and a random pitch is disorderly. The attendant directed us to the exact spot where we were to camp. This turned out to be in the darkest coldest corner right beside a strange-looking man who was pitching his tent aided by a half empty spirit bottle. Such rigidity as being told exactly where our tent should be was causing me to be desperate for Eastern Europe.

As it turned out, I did not need to wait long. That evening we went to the bar cornered between the camp shop and office and ordered a very good beer with the help of some very experienced locals. There was a woman at the table beside us with a lovely radiant face, sparkling eyes and the slur of a positively drunk person. But at least she was smiling and attempting to be friendly. Those fluttering eyelids were indeed Ukrainian. It ended up being quite a sweet and quite a dodgy final evening.

Though we travelled many miles, we only cycled 12.47km and most of them on city streets.

Introduction
Day 1 – Setting Sail
Day 2 – Training, part 1
Day 2 – Training, part 2
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 1
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 2
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 1
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 2
Day 5 – Each Other, part 1
Day 5 – Each Other, part 2
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 1
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 1
Day 7 – Bonking, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 3
Day 8 – Time Keeping
Day 9 – Homeward 
Day 10 – I Love Germany

Bonking – part 3

Day 7.

It was time to move on and do some serious afternoon cycling on our shrinking tummies. We had found our way on to a good cycle-path and were making good time through seaside wind, when suddenly Sharon disappeared. I looked over my shoulder and Sharon was gone; upon a more thorough examination she could be seen sitting slightly down a bank with her head in her hands. Perhaps leaving sulking Ahrenshoop was harder than I thought. I turned around and cycled back to her, dumped my bike, sat beside a now crying Sharon and asked her what was wrong? She told me she couldn’t go on anymore. I very quickly worked out that she was ‘bonking’. Yes I said ‘bonking’, it is a cycling term for ‘total exhaustion caused by a lack of sufficient food during a prolonged stretch of riding’. Basically two things happen: 1. you really miss your mama and 2. your body just closes down. I had never seen someone bonk before and never knew that it could happen so quickly, this was a fascinating experience for me to witness. I am not sure Sharon felt the same way. We still had a few musli bars in our bag, so I shoved as many of these at Sharon as she could bear. It was just enough to enable her to struggle on to the forlorn town of Dierhagen. Sharon was still totally overwhelmed and ignored my plea to just walk into the first restaurant she found and order as much food as she could. I had to stand back and watch her suffer her way from overpriced tourist-trap to expensive restaurant in search of the more economical choice. She settled on dear kiosk cooked pancakes and within minutes of filling up returned to her usual cycle worn chirpy self.

For the second time this miserable day we skipped town. Because we had been free camping and saving money, because of the threat of rain and because we were ahead of schedule, we decided not to camp and to head to the rather pretty town of Graal-Müritz to look for a B&B. We tried a number of places only to be met with the German growl. The sign ‘Zimmer Frei’ in my experience seems to mean ‘go away stinky tour-cyclists’. I probably need to forgive a few middle-aged frumpy frowning housewives. Just as the rain started falling we stumbled upon a pub called Deutsches Haus that was advertising rooms. It didn’t look good, but by now we were desperate and looking for the camping-ground. The bar was mostly a smokey room of men drinking beer and watching a World War Two movie. I walked up to the bar to be greeted by a rather robust sturdy woman who was friendly and happy to show us her rooms. The place was rather expensive and not flash, but was clean, dry and had a place to lock up our bikes, so we took it.

The early evening was being drizzled with a steady supply of rain, our top priorities were a shower and feed. Fortunately the bathroom did not have smoke detectors and we were able to cook our noodles whilst sitting on the closed toilet. We finished off the evening sitting on our slightly unclean beds watching American Open tennis.

It was a great start to the day and a pleasant end, most of the stuff in-between could simply be described as character building.

All up we probably clocked over about 72km. For some reason my record keeping has failed me a little here, I will have to do better next trip.

Introduction
Day 1 – Setting Sail
Day 2 – Training, part 1
Day 2 – Training, part 2
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 1
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 2
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 1
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 2
Day 5 – Each Other, part 1
Day 5 – Each Other, part 2
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 1
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 1
Day 7 – Bonking, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 3
Day 8 – Time Keeping
Day 9 – Homeward 
Day 10 – I Love Germany

Bonking – part 2

Day 7.

Our next stop was Wieck. A little wind had picked up, so we decided to shelter in a very cute cove. There were plenty of German tourists roaming around and we were very fortunate to get one of two benches for ourselves. We decided to have a coffee, so proceeded in baffling the holidaymakers by pulling out our stove and boiling some water. The sun was shining through a gentle breeze, it seemed like a God given opportunity to dry our washing. Without thinking I strung our clothesline between our bikes and hung a jersey and our cycle underwear.

Now bear in mind a day or so back we had watched Germans get naked on a beach whilst getting into their togs. It seemed to people on the beach that there was nothing unusual about this public display of nudity. Within a minute of hanging our undies up it felt like we had the collective wrath of Deutschland scowling down their noses at us. I mean these people glared so nastily at us that I suspect their deep furrows were causing them physical pain. Ugh, would a smile do any harm? Not feeling overly welcome, well not feeling welcome at all, we finished our drinks and left pretty quickly.

In this part of Germany, they give you instructions on how to walk.

About three kilometres down the road Sharon’s gears started playing up again. We stopped and stuffed around while an increasingly grumpy Kel failed totally to fix them. We were looking forward to getting another three kilometres down the road to a town called Ahrenshoop. Ahrenshoop is one of Sharon’s ancestral homes. Yes she has Prussian blood in her; this explains why in the cupboard at home our canned goods are standing proud and tall in regimented straight lines. Fortunately she has been balanced out with some Scottish blood which means sometimes she forgets to turn the labels so they face outwards.

Anyhow we struggled in a head wind along gravel tracks. Sharon’s gears were shonkally misbehaving.

Sharon had told me for years that she did not want to return to the birthplace of her kin, apparently she did not want to spoil her fond memories of the place. On the other hand her family had so majestically painted their mystical haven homeland to me that I was really very keen to see this surely heavenly place.

Well, we rounded the corner to discover that Ahrenshoop is no longer framed by pearly gates and instead had been overtaken by the automobile and its camera wielding inhabitants. In short, we sucked in petrol fumes and dodged car worn hiking boots all the way to the oasis of a lovely little bicycle shop. They gladly relieved us of Sharon’s tiring bike and allowed me to leave mine there while they repaired and we found food.

We dodged cars all the way to a fish restaurant. Sharon had remembered how great the fish was and I hadn’t destroyed this memory for her yet. Sharon went in to buy and I searched for an outdoor seat. After an exorbitant time Sharon returned with a deep fretted furrow frown holding two postage size plates of fish and chips. She was righteously complaining about the price while I glared back at her thinking of my shrinking stomach that needed to be full with cycling fuel. Oh my goodness we were becoming like everyone else, frowning and glaring; it was time to get out of ‘Dodge’.

We groaned and grimaced our way back to the oasis. It appeared that it only took the bike mechanic a few minutes to fix Sharon’s bike and he did not want to charge us for it. Cycle shops seem to always have quality people in them who are always ready with a special kind of compassion for tour-cyclists. In effort to give them some kind of money we purchased a repair kit, said thanks and got our hungry bellies out of town just as quickly as we could.

“Sharon, I am truly sorry for destroying your fairytale memories of your ancestral fishy fatherland. I know I have destroyed your Ahrenshoop, please forgive me and I will never again deliberately knock the tin-cans in our cupboard out of their straight German lines.”

Introduction
Day 1 – Setting Sail
Day 2 – Training, part 1
Day 2 – Training, part 2
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 1
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 2
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 1
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 2
Day 5 – Each Other, part 1
Day 5 – Each Other, part 2
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 1
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 1
Day 7 – Bonking, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 3
Day 8 – Time Keeping
Day 9 – Homeward 
Day 10 – I Love Germany

Bonking – part 1

Day 7.

This was the best morning of our trip. Concerned about the sky, we quickly and quietly ploughed through the juggling process of showering and felling our tent. During this necessary ritual I felt the eyes of our neighbouring Combi campers upon us. We both set up our breakfast tables around the same time. Theirs was actually a real table adorned with lovely looking bread and fresh flowers. Ours was once again our faithful ground sheet. Somewhere around the time of boiling our water, I glanced up to be greeted with a smile and a ‘Guten Tag’. This was a beautiful moment.

A little earlier at the handbasin in the bathroom, I had been frustratingly trying to work out how to get soap from the dispenser. Inadvertently I placed a hand underneath it; to my surprise soap landed on my hand. The ordeal was trying to find a tap to get water from. Accidentally my hands passed under a spout; water came out. The next thing I knew hot air was blowing over my hands. Inside my head I swore and said nasty things about Germany. Culture-shock had snuck up on me. I was craving imperfection, desperately searching for something broken or not working properly. I was also searching for relationship, searching for anyone to be interested in us without furrowed brows and a scowl.

Sitting there with their lovely set table, our elderly neighbours gave us an almost apologetic smile. Being slow to learn and a glutton for punishment I stood up walked over to them, stuck out my hand and said hello. We did not have too many words in common, but language does not matter when people want to communicate. The couple asked to see our maps and wanted to know where we had been. They were from southern Germany and used to tour-cycle in their younger days. When their knees gave-up, they purchased their camper and continued touring. It was the only time during this whole trip when strangers actually reached out to us. This moment was a highlight.

Before we left they obligingly took a photo of us. “Elderly couple, whoever you were, whereever you are, thanks so, so much for being kind to us.”

We jumped on our bikes and cycled to the office. The office was closed and did not open for another twenty minutes. I was keen to keep cycling, Sharon was keen to wait. So we walked around to their camp store. This tiny, tiny wee shop had absolutely everything in it. We purchased yoghurt for breakfast, oil for my chain and shower flip-flops.

Back in the camping-ground office an unfriendly woman demanded that I fill out a forest of forms before she could accept my money. Thirty minutes later, around 9:30 am we finally hit the road. Once again the cycle-paths were excellent. About ten kilometres up the road we found a bench overlooking a flotilla of yachts heading in to harbour. This was the perfect spot to lube my chain and have second breakfast.

Five minutes up the road in the very pretty and busy town of Zingst I spotted a tacky souvenir shop selling cheap nasty sunglasses. Yay, at last my eyes were able to get some protection from this beautiful Baltic sun. From here we shared a coastal path west with many tourists. I had a very near miss with a kid on a bike who flew out of the trees directly into my path.

Introduction
Day 1 – Setting Sail
Day 2 – Training, part 1
Day 2 – Training, part 2
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 1
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 2
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 1
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 2
Day 5 – Each Other, part 1
Day 5 – Each Other, part 2
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 1
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 1
Day 7 – Bonking, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 3
Day 8 – Time Keeping
Day 9 – Homeward 
Day 10 – I Love Germany

A Sprocket of a Day – part 2

Day 6.

I was comfortably bored by the time we got to Klausdorf and spent much time entertaining myself and infuriating Sharon with screaming bad humour about Santa-Claus-dorf. Sadly it was here where my humour started to dry up. We turned into a tail-wind and once again when we cranked up the gears, I left Sharon for dust. I could not understand why and was worried. When conditions are good and these conditions were perfect, then it is necessary to click over some miles. It is my hope that we will cycle many more miles together, but if we struggle to comfortably survive eighty kilometre days, then for me something needs to change. I think it was here in nowhereville Germany that I started grieving the possible end of long lazy cycling trips together. I asked Sharon what gear she was in. Her reply was; ‘3-7’. This was her highest gear, but yet she was cycling so slowly. In frustration I looked down at her sprockets and rather annoyingly noted that she was actually in 2-7.

Just before we left on this journey, we had put the bike in to be serviced. We have possibly the world’s best bike shop here in Klaipėda. They had told me there were problems with her gears and said the numbers on her gear-grip would not match the actual gear she was in and that she would just have to strongly ratchet her gears up on to the top ring. Sharon did not grow up on bicycles and with many things tends to rely on facts, not feelings. This was one of those cases. I encouraged her to use all her strength and force it on to the top ring. After a physical fight with her handgrip gear shifter her chain popped up into 3-7 and zoom she disappeared into the distance. I have never been so happy to be left in someone’s wake. Laughing, smiling and mentally planning many more years of tour-cycling, I clicked up my gears and with some effort chased her down.

Cycling and SMSing, not the safest thing in the world.

Our wheels stopped rolling at the ‘Children and Family Hotel’ in Nisdorf. We were a little tired: we had already cycled past our planned camping spot and were perhaps hoping for a B&B in Barth. It seemed that a large group of families had arrived at the hotel just before us. I staggered, grimy and smelling into their bar, to be greeted with horror by many well dressed parents and a tribe of energetic kids. Fortunately the host rescued me and sold us some rather expensive but delicious fizzy drinks. Sitting outside in the sun, we cackled our way through the conversation of Sharon’s gears. It was really quite remarkable that she had managed to get this far only using her lower gears. It was also perhaps a reminder that it is nearing time for Sharon’s old faithful German bike to be put out to pasture.

A filling of our water bottles and a toilet were required. I felt bad romping through this classy hotel in my cleat-clad cycle shoes; it was definitely the poshest place I had ever stunk in. By the time we left, the kids had invaded our quiet spot with a collection of carts and bikes. Leaving was like riding through a moving, screaming and laughing obstacle course. These kids were the happiest Germans we saw on the trip.

Anyhow, we zoomed along peaceful cycle-paths towards Barth, and even had to climb a testing little hill. We stopped at a guest-house in Barth, but there was no room for us. It was now dusk, and we had cycled close to eighty kilometres and were keen to stop and explore what looked like a nice town. The second guest-house looked empty, yet was also full. The mother and daughter who greeted us were rather talkative. Unbelievably we wasted about thirty minutes of fading light as they walked us up the road, knocking on a neighbour’s door in search of our beds.

It was dark by the time we left. Sharon was using her fantastic Silva LED flashing lights again and we wore all our high-viability clothing. In the dark at Pruchten we stopped at another Zimmer Frei, the host could not understand us and with a ferocity I still cannot believe, she grabbed a kid passing on a bike and commanded him to translate. She barked an expensive price at us and when she saw we were actually thinking about it, pretty much doubled the cost with a cleaning bill. This rude woman who perhaps had an empty room clearly didn’t want us sleeping in it.

Riding up the road, we stumbled into a nice looking pub and met a friendly person who tried to rent a whole house to us for the night. However his price was about the same as our budget for the whole cycle trip.

Knowing there was a camping ground close, we cycled through the dark. I stopped at another guest-house and was greeted by what I presume was a guest who simply said ‘no’. So it was to be another night in the tent. We rode into the huge and very busy ‘Naturcamp Pruchten’ at about 9pm. We cycled in circles for a bit looking for a set area for tents; not finding this we quietly pitched our tent under a tree beside a Volkswagen Combi. The Camping-ground office was closed, but we were both able to shower. There was a very nice restaurant on site and sat outside until almost 11pm enjoying a beer and some pastries Sharon had picked up somewhere during the day. It was a very pleasant end to a rather different 88.32 kms day.

Introduction
Day 1 – Setting Sail
Day 2 – Training, part 1
Day 2 – Training, part 2
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 1
Day 3 – New Expectations, part 2
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 1
Day 4 – Cobbles, part 2
Day 5 – Each Other, part 1
Day 5 – Each Other, part 2
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 1
Day 6 –  A Sprocket of a Day, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 1
Day 7 – Bonking, part 2
Day 7 – Bonking, part 3
Day 8 – Time Keeping
Day 9 – Homeward 
Day 10 – I Love Germany

niveous haze

niveous haze

niveous mist wisps and winds through steeples tall, along
cobbles flat and up your trouser leg. women cower on buses
clutching

                      gloves and bags. Michelin kids slip and slide
wide-eyed tasting skies of their failing flaying youth

the haves shop until they drop and have-nots drop at the shop
collecting alms doing no harm, but spoiling foiling illusions of
‘good tidings for you and your kin’

street windows, flat screens, screaming wars, on the hour every
hour, Aleppo letting go

downloaded and freeloaded an aroma kicks the coma. Coffee to
see, to set free, my tunes, iTunes, oh it’s such A Beautiful Life.

a cross on a spire, a flurry, a story, an electric fire. Santa calls,
snow falls, the barista waits, Jesus weeps

daylight sleeps, darkness creeps, chills spill, dammit this planet
stops a spinning, no one’s winning, no one notices

Christmas          effortless meaningless, unless of course your horse,
your saviour entered this tragically, magically juxtaposed hard-
nosed space & place

to rescue men [and possibly women too] from their sorrowful
pitiful sinful ways

              this Yuletide faze, this yearly craze,
                                it’s rather a random kingdom
                                                               niveous haze

Big Red

Just for those interested.

P1030046

Name: GEPIDA ALBOIN 300 PRO (2011)
Code: 30110340
Frame: GEPIDA HYDROFORMING – 6061 ALLOY
Fork: RST RF-M7
Headset: GEPIDA INTEGRATED
Handlebar: PANTHER CREDO 2006 STANDARD
Handlebar stem: GEPIDA MTS-C299N ALLOY
Crankset: SHIMANO FC-M4000 40-30-22T – 175 MM
Bottom Bracket: BB-ES300 68mm/BC137 – 118MM
Rear Cassette: ACSHG418134 11-34/ 8 SPEED
BB parts: KINEX BLEPS MONOBLOCK
Front derailleur: SHIMANO TX-51
Rear derailleur: SHIMANO ALIVIO
Shifting lever: SHIMANO ST-EF51
Brake: GEPIDA TX-117 V-BRAKE
Brake lever: SHIMANO ST-EF51
Hub: SHIMANO HUBDYNAMO
Rear hub: GEPIDA ALLOY 36H
Spoke: STEEL BLACK
Rims: RODI SKORPION CNC 36H
Outer tyre: SCHWALBE MARATHON PLUS SMARTGUARD RIGID ROAD TYRE. 40-622. 28X1.50 700X38C. SMARTGUARD HS440, B/B+RT. ART NO 11100770 [not pictured]
Peddles: SHIMONO SPD CLIP
Light: AXA PIC-030
Rear light: B&M DELAYED
Saddle: BROOKS ENGLAND, C17 CAMBIUM CARVED SADDLE, SLATE
Seat tube: POST MODERN SUSPENSION 27.2X300 MM
Kickstand: GEPIDA STANDARD
Second kickstand: KTM
Water bottle cages: ELITE CUSTOM RACE, BLUE – BLACK
Frame size: MAN:48cm 52cm 56cm
Original Weight: 16kg
Wheel Size: 28”

A Little Easter Poem

pastures green

The righteous
will flourish in the courts of the King,
they will bear fruit
fresh and green,
proclaiming,
“The LORD is upright
he is my Rock
the Rock of my salvation

And the earth shook, the rocks split
as the King of Glory
gave his all, suffered death
parting Kingdom’s curtain

for us
the sentenced
to walk in
and sit at the throne
beside quiet waters
and pastures green
and worship
our precious
and beautiful
King