May 30 – Ingolstadt to Donauwörth
Just to make sure we weren’t getting too soft with all this river riding, the route decided to throw in some ups today and they were the huffing, stopping for breathers sort of ups. For a Danube River Cycle Route, we haven’t been seeing much of the river since we’ve been on the German section and we’re now riding “Rivers 2.0” they’ve been completely redesigned for the twenty first century and the new models have hills!
We pedalled out of Ingolstadt on a public holiday today, so the roads were quiet, which was good because all the traffic lights decided they deserved a holiday too. None of them were working and the traffic that was around was having to rely on each other to be gracious in their giving way and letting traffic into intersections and we managed to cross roads, with no lights for guidance, thankfully with minimal traffic to contend with.
Once out of the city, we were on a magnificent path. We rode through a forest, with the sun beginning to shimmer through the branches and just the birds twittering in the trees. We then passed through some small towns and past fields and then back amongst trees again. It was magic, just a beautiful peaceful ride.
We continued on, following the route markers, still yet to see the river and again, while I had stopped to take photo, an older man offered to help. This happens a lot. If we look like we’re reading the GPS or a map or a phone, someone will stop and offer to help us, we have met some wonderful, kind people who have done this and it was happening again today. The man who offered us help, spoke no English, which of course he doesn’t need to because, well, this is Germany and we were our usual clueless monolingual selves, but that didn’t stop this lovely man explaining that the path we intended to take was blocked and he began explaining the alternative route. We couldn’t really understand but could pick up a word here and there and with his gestures he was telling us to go back, turn a corner and then he mimed some ups and downs (OK, seemed there would be hills involved) and then he finished by pointing to his head and saying something in a questioning tone, which I took to be him asking if we understood. “Ja,” we said with a thumbs up, we would be fine and we thanked him many times over and pedalled off, back the way we’d come.
We turned a corner and did indeed have a hill in front of us. A hill! Oh, come on legs, you remember what these are, let’s knock this out! We did some huffing and reached the top, with a view back over Neuburg. ‘That wasn’t so bad,’ I thought, ‘if that’s the hill, that was no problem’. The path then took us into a beautiful forest again and we rode through the dappled light and I was on squirrel watch the whole time, and it was gorgeous. But…it turned out that first hill was just the appetiser, there were more to come and come they did. We rode up and up and up through that forest, with one hill hitting 14% and then we had some downs and then up again. The hills didn’t matter though, because the ride through the trees was so nice.
Once out of the forest, we stopped for lunch on a bench beside the road in a little town and I walked back down the road to take a photo. There was a family of mum, dad and teenage son standing on the bridge and as I walked back past them after taking my snap, I said “Hallo”, to which dad replied, “Hallo” and Mum said something else, which I’ve heard said as a greeting, but I’m not sure what it is or how to say it. “Sorry,” I said, “Australian.” She smiled and said, “No problem.” Then we all stood on the bridge, taking a photo of swans and as they rode off, the son turned to me and said, “Bye” and then Dad said, “Goodbye” and Mum said, “Bye-bye” and I gave them all a hearty “Bye-bye” and then I smiled. I kept smiling. The people we meet are just so lovely. They could have just left, but instead they gave me, a random stranger on the bridge, a farewell in words they knew I would understand. I mean, there are just wonderful people everywhere and it’s simple things, like that goodbye, that just makes the heart sing, it really does.
When I returned to the lunch bench, the conversation went like this.
Steve: What did you take a photo of?
Me: A funny little pink house.
Me: Because it was a funny little pink house.
Steve: Fair enough.
Well I thought it was cute and worth a photo. You can judge for yourself.
Hills became the theme for the remainder of the ride. We had hills beside roads, hills in towns, hills up streets, hills up levees and they kept coming. Then we had a gravel road and that put a frown on my face. I really don’t like riding in gravel. Those stones grab hold of your wheels and send them swerving all over the place and that gravel was sending me slewing this way and that.
We pushed on, finally getting off the gravel, back onto solid path and back to some more hills. We tackled them, huffing up and then getting a few free kilometres down before huffing back up again. It was actually good to be climbing some hills again, just to make sure the legs were still in shape, but it sure wasn’t a river path any more.
On we went, up more hills until we rolled into Donauwörth, our pitstop for the day. It had been a warm ride and a hilly one and we both went back for seconds of our post-ride cuppa. There had been some magic moments on the ride though, a beautiful forest, then another beautiful forest, some gorgeous scenery, a medieval castle and camp, a palace for elevenses, some lovely people and some sunshine above.
Gimme and M… Gimme an A…Gimme a G-I-C…MAGIC!
Then there were the hills…they were huffers, but the legs remembered what to do and we got up them in the end. On we go tomorrow, to see what else Germany will give us, because today had a smorgasbord of little gems. We’ll point the bike, put foot to pedal and see where the path takes us. I wonder what’s there…?
Distance ridden: 71.9 km
Time in the saddle: 5 hours 3 minutes
Weather: cloudy with some sun, nice and mild, 18C