Martina and Jennifer’s Mother-Daughter Bonding Trip – Cycling 1400 km from the Southern Tip of to the Northern End of Germany
4. You also had other mishaps (flat tires, food poisoning] along the way. Please tell us more about that.
We had four flat tires in all. Jennefer was able to change them very quickly. But first we had a wrong pump that did not fit to our valves and we needed to find stores that would sell pumps. Other bikers were most helpful – as soon as someone saw us struggling they would offer help.
In a little village – we waited for a night tour – we ate some typical German food and Jen’s food must have been spoiled. At night she got terrible stomach pain. It lasted for over a day. The following day we could only bike 30 km. We found an accommodation with a nice lady who made us tea. Next day we continued and the lady offered us to call if Jen got sick again so she would get us with her car. We were amazed at this helpfulness.
One day it rained so badly that the rain dropped out of our shoes – that was a very cold experience. We needed to dry our clothes fast for the next day. Jen found out that hanging the clothes on the window was great – I was uneasy about the looks of it – but it was practical.
5. What was your daily routine? When did you get up? Where did you eat your meals? What did you do in the evenings?
We got up at around 6:00 a.m., wrote notes into our journals, and went for breakfast. The breakfast was always very good and we also took a sandwich along for lunch. When we found a great spot with a nice view we took a break for lunch and ate what we had in our bags. For dinner we would be in the next town and have a typical meal for the region. We really liked Spaetzle in the southern parts of Germany.
Twice we got in so late that we could not find any food – so we survived on power bars and some sweets that we had bought. The next morning we would have an extra big breakfast. We ate a lot of delicious cakes – no need to worry about calories – we would burn them off fast through biking. One town was celebrating a wine festival. Two bands played in the town centre, wine booths were everywhere and happy people were just chatting, listening to the music or moving with the beat.
In another town we wanted to take a guided night tour with lots of historic stories. We only survived half of the tour because we were way too tired. Often we would get some delicious cake from the local bakery and eat it on our beds while watching the Olympics, reflecting on the past day and making plans for the next.
6. What types of places did you stay in? How did you find those places?
Some accommodations we found through a book called “Bike and Breakfast” , these places would provide a safe place for the bikes and a healthy breakfast. Other times we went to the local tourist information and they found a room for us. One fellow who biked with us for a day offered us a room since a convention was being held in his city and we could not find a reasonable place to stay.
7. Please tell us about your encounters with local residents along your route.
We got lost way too often – adding to our driving time. People would steal the road signs as keepsakes. The moment we stepped off the bike someone would ask if we needed help. Sometimes people did not know what they were talking about and sent us in the wrong direction, but they were all most helpful. One lady offered us lunch at her place. We were so surprised how friendly the local people were. Kids would ask as where we were from and where we were going. We slowed down a little to tell them, and they would wave and wish us good luck.
10. Packing light is a key requirement for a long biking trip. Please tell us about how you dealt with that issue.
We made lists of things we would need on our trip. We wanted to bring as little as possible but still the mountain of stuff added up. We fitted everything into our panniers and backed them into a big duffle bag for the plane. We would save on space by just bringing one shampoo for both of us. We worked together as a team – one would carry all the cosmetic articles, the other all the road maps and so on.
11. What practical advice would you give someone who is planning an extended biking trip?
Check your equipment twice even three times before you leave. Do not leave anything up to someone else. If something is missing you will be the one suffering. Make sure you have the right tires for your pump. Some countries use different systems and it will be difficult to replace. Wear everything you bring on your trip before you go to ensure it fits and does not create frictions. Try out any new equipment before the beginning of a trip. Fast drying bike shirts and shorts are a must.
Also bring clothes that you can easily wash at night and the biking gear will dry overnight. At the beginning of every day take enough water – sometimes it was difficult to buy water on deserted roads. Most of the shops in little villages close at noon time and we would have to think ahead if we needed to purchase anything. Keep items in Ziploc bags, not just as a rain protection but for organizational purposes. Our visible yellow rain covers for the panniers were great – we would put them on every day. A holder for the map makes the orientation so much easier. Start off easy and increase the distance gradually to avoid pain.
Jen, the biking champ….
12. Both of you went to a spa in Germany and you had realized that the German notion of modesty is very different. Please tell us about that story.
We really wanted to visit a spa and treat our soar muscles. The spa was very modern and big – one section featuring the “freie Koerperkultur” – a popular German form of nudism. Men and women were naked in the sauna, whirlpool, swimming pool and relaxing in the lawn chairs and drinking coffee. We followed their example and there was nothing to it – we all look kind of the same. Way too often we see the super models in our magazines, forgetting totally that often their image is enhanced by computers to make them look perfect. And yet it is the uniqueness of each person that makes her/him so interesting.
13. Please tell us about your 3 favorite memories from the trip.
It is really hard to name only three – there were 14 bike days and I believe ten times as many lasting memories.
1. After our first two days of intense biking we were so sore that we went to get a massage. The massage was wonderful but after that Jen got the crazy idea to climb up a tower of 650 stairs and down again, of course. When we got down our legs were shaking so much that we thought they would not carry us anymore. All of a sudden thunder rolled in and the sun umbrellas flew through the air. We still wanted to get some special cake, so we ran through the deserted streets in the rain, bought our cake and got to our room totally soaked.
2. At the beginning of our journey, just as we got out of the train in Fuessen we were packing everything onto our bike and getting ready, the train conductor asked where we were heading. We told him and he answered: “Oh boy – what ladies can accomplish these days!” Then we mounted our bikes, listened the bells of the cows, saw the turquoise river and the beautiful castle in front the mountains. It was like a dream. We would ride many kilometers along rivers so beautiful as one has never seen before. In the distance were wineries and it was hard to keep our eyes on the road. Since we often could not see a sign assuring us that we are still on the right trail – we sang the song “I saw the sign – it opened up my eyes – I saw the sign “ – each time we actually saw the trail sign. That song became our official song for the trip.
3. A group of boys passed us – with almost the same goal for that day as we had. We tried to keep up with them. We drove as fast as never before on our trip, suddenly we were not careful anymore of little holes or rocks. At times we would pass them, then again they would pass us. It was a lot of fun. We drove by the Loreley, the siren of the Rhine, a symbol which has cost many sailors their life. Since we did not really wanted to stop but I wanted to see it – it is high up on the mountain – I almost dropped off the bike road onto the street.
14. What made this mother-daughter bonding trip so special?
We were two equal women out on a quest to bike through Germany and we had only us two to count on. We were united, strong and happy – together we could conquer any mountain, any pain, any boring long distance. We would invent games for seemingly endless roads. We laughed so much our bikes would tip over. We saw the most beautiful countryside and met so many nice people.
This trip had it all – highs and lows and we took them all with joy. Yes, we could have been without the rain, the pain and the flats, but sometimes it is the lows that remind us how beautiful the highs are. Sadly our new camera did not work properly and many beautiful images are only stored in our memories, but we remind each other often and thus it will never be forgotten.
15. Would you do this type of trip again and where might you go?
Without hesitation – I would do it again – anytime. We now know that Germany has excellent bike trails and we heard that other European countries offer that as well. I would even do the same trip again – but this time with more time. I would stop more often and take in even more the beauty of the country and its people. Biking through a country is a wonderful way of vacationing, staying active, meeting people, seeing breathtaking sceneries and creating lasting memories.
Martina, I couldn’t agree with you more. As an avid biker myself, I feel that one of my future trips will have a significant biking component to it. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about this wonderful mother-daughter adventure that you both shared.