Most of our days now run on routine as we do more or less the same thing every day. But one day in the middle of Germany stood out in particular. The day we met Harald, and the one time Google maps sent us on to a pushbike tour up a hill for 165 meters, later onto a logging road in the forest where the road didn’t really exist anywhere.
The day started like any other. We woke up, had breakfast and packed our tent and belongings. Then we looked at Google maps to check the direction for the day. The previous evening we had spent the last of our energy pushing our bikes up a 165 meter monstrous hill (for some reason we always get these at the end of the day). But we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset – the first real sunset we’d had on the journey so far, and a nice flat camping spot at the edge of a forest overlooking the fields.
So with a new direction for the day we started rolling onto the remaining parts of the gravel road into the woods, before disappearing completely according to the maps. Surely there must be a road beneath all these fallen trees? After trying to cross the road by force, there was still no road to be seen, so Daniel left his bike on the ground and continued on foot in hope to find the road again further in.
Luckily we found the start of the gravel road again at the edge of the forest. So we had the option of pushing the bikes through all of these fallen trees everywhere, or take a 20 km detour down the same hill we had pushed our bikes up the previous day. We opted to try our luck with this road that didn’t exist. So after 45 minutes and reaching only 3 km, we finally arrived to.. guess what. Another logging road! But this one was clear of trees, and it was downhill. Very steep downhill.
For many this wouldn’t be a problem, but with our heavy bicycles they handle a bit differently on bumpy dirt roads, as compared to full suspension bicycles that are made for this type of cycling.
Luckily we managed to ride these steep hills down all the way to the asphalt road, full of adrenaline, and this hard but memorable part of the day was now forgotten. It was actually quite fun!
Göttingen was the next village en route, and since the cycle road signs had this name on them, we decided to follow it. Once you finally find the cycle roads here in Germany, its better to stick to them. And be careful not to miss the upcoming signs, like we did once we got to Göttingen where we winged our way through the city.
We stopped at a traffic light to check our trustworthy Google Maps trying to find out how to avoid the main roads, pointing at different directions and arguing where to go. One cyclist on his electric bicycle rolled up to us asking us (in German) if we needed help, as often happens when we look confused in the middle of a road crossing.
So we bring out our incomprehensible German once more and tell him that we are looking for the cycling road towards the next city. We think he’s commenting that our bikes look heavy, and we reply that we are on a cycle tour towards Singapore, and so the conversation is started.
So he offers us to show us the way towards the cycling route, but we soon realise that hes actually not doing only that, but also guiding us all the way, 12 km, to the next city. We try to communicate in German but soon realise he’s actually fluent in English which is better for the both of us.
So we have a lovely chat about our journey, and ourselves, and he tells us about himself, his family, and some education about the villages we are passing. This kind and generous mans name is Harald.
Harald with his E-bike often forgot that our bikes weigh 60 kg and is driven by (tired) legs, whilst he zoomed away in 25km/h in the uphills, where we cycle at max 10 km/h. So we often lost him a couple of times but we caught up to him eventually. He always looked surprised when we cought up with him, puffing for air.
This was probably the most efficient half hour spent cycling on our trip, trying to keep up with Harald. After reaching the destination we asked for advice regarding the route towards Nürnberg, our next rest stop. He recommended following the cycling route along the river Werra, called Werratal Radweg which we later decided to follow.
After that we thanked him thoroughly before saying goodbye. And with his e-bike he was gone in a second as we were trying to get our pulse down. It was a heart (and body) warming evening for two tired cyclists and it was great to meet you Harald!