Thurs 12th Sept.
I had a late start, but was back on the road as soon as I could. I made sure I had a good meal the previous night, to give me plenty in the engine for today as I had struggled yesterday.
Back on the track and things felt okay. My aim for the day was to get to the city of Münster. I didn’t really know where I was, but I knew I wasn’t as far from Hannover as I wanted to be.
A few hours in and things still weren’t right. I suspected it was the valve on the front inner tube going down, but after stopping several times to inspect it and it being fine, I wasn’t sure what was making the bike feel so sluggish.
I stopped at a McDonald’s again and took a few coffee stirrers and napkins and decided to give the chain and all the gear cogs a really clean. I spent about an hour hunched awkwardly around the bike, cleaning and getting dirty in the process. Part of me felt bad about abusing McDonald’s so repeatedly. I stayed used their internet, toilets, stole loo roll when I needed it and now this. Then again the other part of me was glad to get one up on this faceless, corporate behemoth.
I got back on and kept riding, the bike didn’t feel much better and I was worried about what I could do. It was fine before Berlin and now this? I kept on as best as I could but rate I was going at was barely above 16kph and I kept stopping.
I still had cycle lanes to follow and this part of Germany looked like any other, so I wasn’t getting any inspiration from the surroundings. The weather was grey and miserable and further into the day it started to rain. I started listening to the audiobook I had of Andrea Agassi’s biography. I’d heard it before, but hearing its American narrator dramatise Agassi’s life gave me a story to think about other than my own. At one point the rain got heavier and I ducked out under a bus shelter and waited for the worst to pass. I really didn’t want to be out here doing this, but saying that , I knew I’d miss it when it was gone, so I tried to make the most out of it.
I was going through another forest. If I was dropped here and told I was in Germany I would’ve thought it was the Black Forest for sure. It was more forest-like then anything I’d ever seen in England, tall trees going on for miles around into the wilderness. Still with Agassi’s life going on in one ear I descended into the forest, not too far from the road and settled for the night. The ground was marshy and it was difficult getting the bike in, which is why I didn’t stray too far from the road.
It was a beautiful place to spend the night and although I didn’t want to be on this trip anymore, I knew moments like camping in a place like this with no-one else around were rare.