Here Comes the Rain Again

Day 142: Weymouth England, Friday September 8th

Google was right, the weather was pretty bad. We managed to get out to a grocery store without getting too wet, but other than that we stayed in Carmine’s spacious and fun apartment. Deb managed to get pretty much all the rest of our nights booked in Airbnb places, and we had our route laid out. No more stress about that. I mostly read and watched the rain on the window.

We haven’t had too many of these rest days on this long journey. This was good one.

Distance: 0

$87.45

A New Plan

Day 124: Maybole, Scotland, Monday August 21st

Chris and Julie-Anne’s place was so great we immediately decided to stay another night and give our legs a break.

We went for a walk and saw a bit of Maybole.

It was the day of the big eclipse in North America; even if there was anything to see in Scotland, it was too cloudy. And there was a lot of rain in the forecast. And even the nice days, like Sunday, felt like a nice day in October. Faced with more cold, wet, and very hilly rides, and in a region that had very few affordable places to stay (Airbnb or campgrounds), we had begun to consider taking a train into England, skipping over the middle bit.

When Shaun told us he was considering going to Peterborough for the Cask Beer Festival, we were intrigued. We looked at the train schedules and made a new plan. It would involve some backtracking, which I hate, but with September coming quickly, we decided it was time to leap ahead.

Distance: 0

$82

Stumpy

Day 108: Pitlochry, Scotland, Saturday August 5th

We walked out and around the big dam in Pitlochry and spent some time in the visitor’s centre looking at the displays and watching a movie about Hydro power in the Highlands.

Later we walked up to the Moulin Inn, which happens to also be a brewery. It was very busy, so we had to take stools at an occupied table. At first we kept to ourselves, but when I got up to get another round, Deb got social. It was an English couple and their friend, all out for a long-weekend motorbike tour. The friend, “Stumpy”, was former military; he and I connected because he was a big Rush fan. We talked about bikes and Brexit, about our tour and where they thought we should go; we talked about differences between the English and the Scottish, and between the new world and old.

 

Distance: 0

$147

Where Go the Boats?

Day 106: Kingussie, Scotland, Thursday August 3rd

Kingussie, the “Switzerland of the British Isles”, has been a popular holiday town for a long time. Robert Louis Stevenson (in whose footsteps we seem to follow often) spent much time here. He even wrote a poem about the Gynack River, where he floated paper boats as a boy. We walked a short hiking trail along the river, learning much about the history of the area from the plaques.

We did some planning over a pint in the lounge of the Duke of Gordon Hotel and I bought a random package of sweets at the candy store.

Making dinner we met the Dutch cycling couple staying in the room opposite ours. They were headed the same way as us, having come down from the Western Isles. They showed us their awesome cycle route guide (the Dutch publish very good ones) and helped with our planning.

Where Go the Boats?
Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating –
Where will all come home?
On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.
Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

-RLS

Distance: 0

$98

 

Thunderstorms

Day 71: June 28th, Bad Iburg, Germany

With big thunderstorms coming we stayed an extra day in Bad Iburg. We walked around the town and got ice cream. Deb bought a USB key for more photos.

Detail from a sculpture that was part of a water feature

I cleaned the chains on the bikes and we did some planning while watching the rain.

Distance: 0

$91

Tropical Storm

Day 65: June 22nd, Krautsand, Germany

Big bad weather was a-comin’, so we asked if we could have a cabin at the campground in Krautsand. No problem, they just needed some time to clean one up.

It turned out to be really nice. Simple, but with a good bed, a coffee maker, and tables inside and out. We had the key early enough to eat our breakfast in front of it.

Then we went shopping. We could see the dark clouds coming, so we brought rain gear. Good thing. The storm hit hard and fast. The winds were incredible. We waited at the shop until the worst of it passed, but we got soaked on the way back to our cosy cabin.

It cleared up for awhile, and we went for a walk. We saw a lot of trees torn up by the wind.

The Elbe here has a nice beach. We walked along it, dipping our feet in the cold water. I spotted a “message in a bottle”, we pulled it out, but felt that it was intended for a North Sea journey. Debbie threw it back in. At a bistro on the beach, we got a couple draft beers.

When the next storm hit, we were safe in our cabin. There was even a little hail.

$96

Lakeside Park

Day 48: June 5th, Gothenburg, Sweden

We slept late and had a leisurely breakfast. We met a Hungarian couple staying in the same house, visiting their son in Gothenburg where he’s doing a Masters in percussion.

This felt like a “turnaround” day. We were as far north as we were going to ride in Europe, and it was time to prepare for the ride down to Amsterdam where we’ll catch the ferry to Newcastle. I spent the day working on an itinerary for the ride through Jutland, figuring out the route, and potential campgrounds to stay at.

We took the time to go for a walk around the lake near the house. It was much more impressive than I’d expected. There was a small beach, places for barbecuing, big dramatic rock formations to climb on, or hang out on, and many, many kilometres of trails filled with joggers. It made us wonder what our hosts needed a summer house for, when this was practically in their backyard.

In the evening, we met another couple staying at the house. They were young Germans, from Munich, on a nearly four week tour of their own, but by car. They planned to stay in campground cabins some nights, so we told them about our “barrel” adventure. The guy knew exactly what we were talking about; apparently those barrels are a thing in Germany.

Distance: 0

$99

What’s Green and Insulting?

Day 20: May 8th, Rest Day in Lübben, Germany

So, we finally used our sleeping bags, and when we woke up to pouring rain, we were very glad we didn’t use the tent.

We mostly hid from the rain on this cold, grey Monday. Our Hobbit barrel was cute, but not cosy in the temperature sense. We went out and had a pizza in a nice warm restaurant, explored the town a bit (which would be really nice in the summer, I bet) and read our books.illustration of a pickle riding a bicycle

There’s another cycle route that crossed and often overlapped ours, and that’s the Gurkenradweg (Cucumber Cycle Path). We’d noticed the funny symbol, a pickle on a bicycle, next to the Spree route markers in many places, but it wasn’t until we wandered around Lübben that we saw just how important pickles are to the area. There are pickles for sale all over the place. There is even a pickle liqueur. I would have a hard time thinking of a more disgusting drink than pickle booze. Then again, I didn’t try it, maybe it’s fantastic. We bought some beers at a grocery store instead.

 

This was our first real rest day, and our legs and butts were grateful.

statue of a man and woman standing close together under an umbrella or parasol

Distance: I don’t know, we walked around for awhile, maybe 5km?

$85

And the answer to the riddle-title of this post is: Don Pickles!

Counting Down

After installing a front rack on Appa (still not happy with how it’s affixed after a couple of attempts), and purchasing new panniers for Momo, I was ready to do a test pack. It doesn’t look like a lot of clothes for over 200 days. Actually, I was pretty pleased with the space I still had remaining after pulling together clothes, cables, devices, tools, spare tubes, etc. I think I’ll be able to bring more undies than I’d planned, which is comforting.Evo Front Rack freshly installed on AppaSteve's clothes for test pack.

Rain gear is a concern. We ordered waterproof socks, as we’ve heard mixed reviews about shoe covers. I’m not sure what we’re going to do about pannier covers. I’m mostly relying on heavy-duty, giant freezer bags. I’m also hoping the Kitty Bins prove to be fairly water-tight. We didn’t get any rain on the summer trip, so we’ll find out when we get there.

Obviously we’re going to be missing things. I’m not worried about it; we’re not going anywhere particularly remote, especially for the first month. There are bike shops and hardware stores in Germany.

22 days to go.

Day 10: Pokémon and Tourism

Aug. 8th: Owen Sound

We explored town and hunted pokémon as we made our way to a laundromat.

Tom Thomson blow up outside gallery in Owen Sound

Owen Sound waterfront

With bags full of clean, dry clothes, we were picked up by Deb’s parents, who drove over from Hanover.

They took us to Rockford to visit the Kilannan Brewery where we got out another of our favourite apps, Untappd. This was shaping up to be a bad day for our phone batteries.

Kilannan Brewing banner at the brewery in Rockford, ON

Next was a good, big lunch at the Harrison Park Inn. Finally, we dropped in on the Casselmans, friends of Deb’s parents who happen to live very close to the Traveller’s motel. We sat by their pool and chatted, enjoying the opportunity to avoid the sun for a whole afternoon.

We ate in our room and, as usual, passed out early.