Wed 11th Sept.
Actually leaving Berlin and Hannover.
In the morning I felt pretty bad but good enough to function. While packing up a few dog walkers were out first thing and a saw a red squirrel in the woods. The first I’d ever seen in the wild. I danced around the trees than met another one and they ran off together. I took it as a small present for having a bad night.
Then I got my second small present. An old man in slippers with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist appeared and looked towards part of the lake, I assumed for his dog, he disappeared shortly after.
I left the woods at 8 and raced back into the city. Now Berlin was loosing some of its charm. At the station I had the usual at a McDonald’s and check the internet before getting to Hannover and going back into the countryside. My train was at 10 and there was no way I was going to risk missing this one, so I made sure I was on the platform at 9:40.
I had to make one change on the train which wasn’t easy. By the time I’d changed platforms and done the legwork, I only just caught the train. My luck with transport had been abysmal, but I always seemed to scrape through. This is something I was set on changing in my habits when I got back.
The second train went through to Köln, which sounded further across the country then Hannover. I only found out recently that it was German for Cologne and taking the train through to there would made things much easier, but I decided to stick to the place I’d paid for. The ticket was already €60 and if I got footed with the bill to Cologne I might have fainted.
Hannover was a nice enough place, but was nothing spectacular. I did have much to do but go west. Now that I was in a country where I had maps the GPS was back on track and I used it to get out of the city smoothly.
I had run out of chamois cream which I used to create less friction between my bum and the saddle, reducing sores, which I knew I would get with the next few long days riding. I went into a few shops on the way out, bike shops and pharmacies, but no-one seemed to understand what I meant, it being a french word and me being english. Perhaps there was a german word for it that I never discovered, but I didn’t get any chamois cream and used the remaining E45 I had instead.
Getting back on the bike after twelve days off was tough. My body wasn’t used to the extra baggage on the bike and the strange movement it creates. I’d got used to riding the bike without bags in Berlin, which feels like riding a different bike entirely. When you chop and change the between the two it’s very confusing for your body. A bike with no bags feels like you’re riding a stick and floating along the ground. Yet with the bags fresh on, it feels like your having to move some gargantuan machine, that moves in lazy ways and has a life of its own.
I left Hannover around 2 and struggled with the bike, but I was ready to finish the trip and get home. Back on the roads there was the infamous German cycle lanes that I’d come to know and love.
I was working hard and putting out a lot of energy but not getting far. It was demoralising as I knew at this rate I wouldn’t make the times I had planned. There wasn’t a headwind and although I’d had a break my body was used to this routine so I should’ve been fine. I didn’t push it too hard, but I kept pushing and trying to gain territory.
The sun had changed its patterns now that we were in September and was going down a little early changing the riding day. Now it was on the horizon at 7pm and gone by 8pm. The time had come and I found a nice, but damp woods to spend the night in a few km off the road.