Man with Bicycle

Distance 16.4km
Time 1h16m

note the above distance and time are by the cycle computer I was on the train most of today

I had to decide where to get the train to from Berlin.

I had already decided to get the train - to cut out a few days to maximize the month of vacation that I have.

I had considered many things for this years tour - the original idea was to tour around the UK and visit various relations, at one point by going via. the Alps. I had considered a longer vacation, maybe 2 months or even 3. But I have 1 month.

I decided to get the train - and as I was sitting on the platform I regretted it. The first time I went to Bielefeld the title of my blog post was Man with no bicycle, the second is called “Man with bicycle”. The man with no bicycle was able to get a direct train to Bielefeld which took 3.5 hours, but today the journey took 6.5 hours with two changes. I choose Bielefeld I guess because it was a point on the map that I knew.

When I asked for the ticket and it said “6.5” hours I said, “wait, I’ll come back, - ich muß es uberlegen”. Maybe I could get a direct train to Hamburg?

I wanted to do some cycling today - I intended to get a “head start” - but Hamburg was also not possible in a reasonable time.

As I was waiting on the platform for the train, I saw seven-carridge double-decker trains go past with nothing but bicycles in the lower carriage. Entire carriages dedicated to bikes, and all full. If you build them, they will use them. Perhaps the direct trains were sold out.

I was on the “regional trains” going from one HBF (main train station) to the next. They were not so busy, in the first two train I read from what is my “travelling book” - Surveillance Capitalism, and otherwise dozed and looked out the window. People had various attitudes to masks, some people would not wear them at all (including train staff) and others wore them all the time. I usually took mine off while sitting down (on my own) and put it on when moving about.

The third train to Bielefeld was one of the good ones, and was not busy and I was able to sit down for two hours and do some programming for my project. All of the trains had good to excellent accommodation for bicycles (compared to England as far as I remember).

When I got to Bielefeld I got carried my bike down the steps (quite a strenuous exercise - I have carried my bike down and up steps in 3 stations today - the lifts are always so busy) and started towards the campsite.

Somebody told me that German campsites are the worst campsites in the world, I’m not sure about that - this one is “fine”. The last time I was in Bielefeld I had camped with my brother and his friend, so I decided to stick to familiar territory and head to the same campsite.

I was half-expecting it to be sold out - both because of Covid distancing requirements and excessive demand - but where I am sitting now, there are only a few tents - although they all belong to large family, and the space is quite small (maybe 5% of the whole site) but still, far from crowded.

Thankfully there is no thumping music.

As usual the bike has problems, this time because I decided to re-adjust my rear break in the 10 minutes before the train arrived at one of the stations. The pads had worn down excessively and were barely working. I would simply tighten them up and shift the cable up a few notches - but when I did this the cable jammed, I guess because it’s rusted and frayed. I had to disconnect them finally, tomorrow I will try and repair them (at least to their previous state) I randomly picked up a spare cable before I left, so perhaps I can fix it properly.

In my previous post I recounted carrying my heavy cycling bags up a “mountain” in order to walk to the campsite to meet my brother (who had my bicycle from England). Today I went the same way with the bicycle and I had a bike, which brings some closure to that story. It’s always nice to revisit places you have travelled before, it gives you a sense of familiarity. Last time I went north from Bielefeld, this time I go west towards Amsterdam.

There is a regional cycle path with the designation “D3” which seems to go all the way to the coast (and my ferry), it’s around 378k by my estimation, probably 400k all in. The cycle network in Holland seems crazy compared to absolutely any other country - to the point where it’s completely confusing if you’re used to looking at a sparse map with clear lines of direction. In Holland it’s like an intricate map of the blood vessels in the human body.

I got a new tent for this journey, the old one has seen maybe four or five tours and it was falling to pieces and I wasn’t sure it would last. The new one is an one man “MSR Hubb Hubba”. Very light (~1KG) and it had great reviews, it also cost almost three times as much as the last one. A tent is a tent, but it’s much more flexible and seems to provide a little more space.

Currently I’m sitting in the campsite, next to a large van seemingly owned by what I now think are a Scandinavian family. The van just started and is now moving around (hopefully it can avoid running me over). The family seems to be retiring, it’s 22:00, I’ve cooked and eaten some pasta and am drinking Jameson whiskey and typing this blog post, I’ll probably go and wash my cooking stuff, have a little wash and then go to bed.

I left my camera on a bench somewhere near Ostsee a few weeks ago, so am relying on my phone for photos, unfortunately I can’t seem to get it to sync this evening. So will hopefully update this blog post retrospectively with the extraordinary photos that I took today.