A lot of good things happened today. After 157 km yesterday the first good thing was not waking up as stiff as I thought I would. All the power to the stretching I do religiously after each days ride and before
The second good thing to happen was leaving Bremen. Unlike some of the other cities in Germany I have passed through it had a gritty , hard feeling to it . Perhaps because it’s flat with no discernible features but whatever the reason the locals were gruff , and I was glad to be riding onwards.
Thirdly, if you were going to devise the terrain to follow on from a very long ride the previous day then today’s topography would be it. Flat and flat and then flat some more. The biggest climb I had was up to the crest of a bridge over one of the many canals around Hamburg . Throw in a gentle tailwind all day too.
The flatness of the terrain was conducive to these types of cycle. Last time I saw one was on the pathways adjoining the Rhine south of Mannheim. Now this makes 3.
A local village book exchange with a solar panel to keep the light on. There’s a very strong sense of practicality , honesty, trust and integrity in rural Germany that is evident almost daily.
No lack of impressive barns in this part of the world either and again produce on sale with an honour system of payment . Here potatoes.
Topiary gone mad. Someone clearly with too much time on their hands. Why not shape that hedge behind the water tap like a water tank. Hey great idea. Go get the trimmer .
The fourth good thing to happen today was meeting these two lovely souls. Meet Laura and her partner Freder. They’re riding a 30 year old tandem bike that a friend has lent them from central Germany to Copenhagen and then catching the train back. Laura is a bike mechanic and lover of bikes it would seem given her adoration of my Surly. I was equally impressed with their bike which combined with their weight totalled about 300kg . Just naturally good people riding and camping for the purity and love of it .
30 years old and still going strong. Apparently it doesn’t take bumps nor corners too well and Laura is getting a friend to bring a replacement seat when they meet in Hamburg. Freder sits at the rear and Laura up front. Hopefully our paths will cross again as they’re heading for the same town as me prior to taking the ferry to Denmark.
Beautifully paved long and straight roads devoid of traffic with an assisting tailwind with cool conditions . It really was a pleasant way to spend a day cycling 120 km.
The fifth good thing to happen was meeting this gentleman . Meet Ole. He was trained as a ship broker but now works at one of the local refineries . He rides the 15 km across town from home to work each day for a 30 km round trip that involves a pretty special and unqiue experience . I had stopped at some lights near one of the large refineries and was checking my sat nav when up rolled Ole. In impeccable English he asked if I needed assistance and without hesitation offered to ride with me and show the way to the centre of town as it was on his way .
That unique experience he enjoys ? Crossing under the Elbe every day. You approach a tunnel and join a queue of cars . Two cars at a time are loaded into a box and bikers are allowed to cram in alongside them. The box then drops about 60 - 90 feet to the river floor and the opposite end of the box opens up to a tunnel. You then cycle the 400 metres or so of the tunnel and repeat the same experience at the other end. Enter box , rise 60 - 90 feet and you’re riverside in bustling downtown Hamburg.
The tunnel. I did some research and my figures aren’t too far out . Built and opened in 1911 it is 426 metres long and 24 metres (84 feet) deep. The tunnel is open 24 hours a day for cyclists and pedestrians but cars are restricted to certain hours. The tunnel tubes are 6 metres in diameter and when opened provided a huge relief for workers wanting to get from the city to the shipyards. Bridges and other larger tunnels have superseded this one. Thanks to Ole for the guidance and history lesson in one . It was a real pleasure meeting you sir. Otherwise I am pretty sure I would have missed this and taken a bridge instead. I feel privileged to have had a local introduce me to it .
After leaving Guntersblum on Sunday and having ridden for 6 days covering over 690 km it’s time for a rest day . I am looking forward to seeing what Hamburg has to offer tomorrow .