Saturday, March 31, 2012

By the way...

Hi there,

I can't believe it has been this long, four countries and some fantastic rides since I last posted here. Shame, shame, shame...

We are now in France, a few kilometers from St Quentin where my Paris-Roubaix Challenge might start. Yes, might! It is the day-before and I haven't decided if I am going to do it because of an issue with my bike sponsorship. Kidding!

Anyhow, I will have more time for a longer post soon.

... and I did find a couple of old, old bakeries.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Travelling without a bike

When Sandra and I talked about this trip, our Europe Tour if you like, we talked about bikes and roads (climbs mostly) because they’re things we love. But we also talked about the places we are going to see, the foods and the drinks, and of course the people we are going to meet.

I must say, perhaps not so much for Sandra for obvious reasons, that in just over two weeks, my time in Germany has already produced a great number of experiences and I can easily start ticking boxes on all of the above.

Staying with Sandra’s parents has a lot do with it. Their hospitality and purpose to make sure we have a good time is priceless. We get taken to places, we have lunches, we go to their local cafes, we drive their car and we talk weather and football during our nightly cheese & breads (and drinks) meals, before going to bed.

All I want to do is to wake up and start everything again, and I usually do that by taking a walk to the local bakery for fresh brötchen.

Our search for the motorhome took us on a few trips, also. It was a matter of surfing the net (I looked at the pictures and the numbers), finding something we liked, and could afford, contacting the sellers and planning the trip for a raining day, a rest day or for after the ride if we didn’t have to travel far.

We went to villages like Mittenwalde and Bernsdorf, we drove to Berlin and Dresden and we even travelled interstate, driving on different Autobahns to get to the small village of Schlüsselfeld in Bavaria. Ok, the motorhomes weren’t great but we found a Puma factory outlet.

The shopping was good but it wasn’t the highlight. What really made this trip were the undulating roads and the village we stayed in, Reichmannsdorf. Nice drive but I was trying to work out a plan to return with my bike even before we got to the village.

Reichmannsdorf is more than 700 years old, it has an inn which is also fairly old and it has a castle that has been the residence of one family for almost 300 years. We couldn’t get in the castle because “von” someone still resides in it but we had a fantastic dinner in the Schloβgasthof.

Home for the next night, a ride in the morning and we were off to Dresden in the afternoon to meet some of Sandra’s parents friends and to check another motorhome. Again, we didn’t buy it, we were happy learning more and more about them.

The evening in Dresden was something else. A palace, a walk around this old, once or twice destroyed town, another great meal (vegetarian this time) and some (window) shopping for beautiful German-made watches…

We managed to ride the next morning again and later we headed to Berlin, this time to have a look at what we thought was the best motorhome for us, so far. But that is a story for another post. Saturday and Sunday, we rode with our new friends and even managed to do the Hurberg climb again.

Thur, March 15th: Senftenberg-Cottbus

Time: 2h 37min
Dist: 72 km
Elev: 286m
Temp: 20-7°C

Fri, March 16th: Around Senftenberg Lake

Time: 1h 59min
Dist: 42 km
Elev: 149m
Temp: 25-15°C

Sat, March 17th: Senftenberg-Lichterfeld (F60 and cobbles)

Time: 2h 08min
Dist: 53.8 km
Elev: 214m
Temp: 25-16°C

Sun, Mar 18th: Senftenberg-Kamenz (Hutberg Climb)

Time: 3h 14min
Dist: 86.7 km
Elev: 340m
Temp: 25-16°C

Mon, March 19th: Senftenberg, searching for an old Bakery

Time: 34 min
Dist: 9.2 km
Elev: 65m
Temp: 11-8°C

And yes, we had a heat-wave last week!!

All, einem unvergesslichen Erlebnis!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cold, rainy days are best for coffee and cake...

It was cold and there was a light rain. Normally, the day would have become a day-off-the–bike and I would have done other things, perhaps I would have jumped on the rollers for an hour or so. But this day was different and I thought I should be on the bike. And riding on wet cobbles…

Mon, March 12th : Senftenberg Loops

I found this great 3.4 km circuit not very far from the apartment. It had two long straights, a sweeping bend, a couple of train crossings and, perhaps, 1.5 km of cobbles. Perfect for a club crit, I kept thinking while bouncing, sliding and trying to better my times…

Time: 1H 35min
Dist: 38.7km
Elev: 100m
Temp: 10.9-7.8°C

After that, a short ride to and around the 700 years old town square before meeting Sandra for an afternoon coffee and cake, a custom I have happily adapted to…

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rididng with the Bike Tech 24 boys

We had planned a drive to Berlin but an invitation for a Sunday group ride, our first, seemed like something we shouldn't miss...

Sun, March 11th: Schwarzheide-Lauchhammer-Elsterwerda

Photo by Kai-Uwe

Into a strong head wind, the six of us rolled out of the Ramada Hotel, in Schwarzhelde, two of us not really knowing where we were going to end up. Still, we pulled our turns and got second for Australia in a three men, up-hill sprint. Groover rode very strong.

Time: 3h 55min
Dist: 112km
Elev: 407m (not sure)
Temp: 11-7.8° C

We have now been invited to race the first ITT of the season. Very tempting...


Friday, March 9, 2012

Riding and Sightseeing!

Day ten of our stay in Germany, time to write a little on what has been happening.

Before I get to the riding part, I must say I am now a resident of the town of Senftenberg, in Brandenburg. It is very exciting and it is the first step to getting a Schengen Visa for the rest of the trip. I think I should place a red eagle on my black bike...

We have also done a fair bit of research on motorhomes and have been close to buying a couple. I think we will have one by the end of next week.

Now, riding has been great. The weather has been good, not much rain, but it has been very cold (for us). We leave for our rides after lunch with temperatures around 11° and return before the sunset when it cools down to 7° or so. That means, we don't remove any gear during the ride, we start and we finish wearing three or four layers...

Tuesday, March 6th: Senftenberg-Lichterfeld(F60)

We rode past the Eurospeedway in Lausitz and around this huge open-cut coal mine to get to the Lichterfeld F60, or the horizontal Eiffel Tower as they like to call it. I will have to check that when we get to Paris. Very impressive, nevertheless.

Time: 2h 14min
Dist: 53 km
Elev: 262 m
Temp: 9° C

Wednesday, March 7th: Senftenberg-Großräschen

Sandra decided to take me on a little easy ride and organised a bit of sight seeing. As a local, she knows a few of the unmarked spots, like the region´s castles, things that she knows I like.

Time: 2h 16min
Dist: 50 km
Elev: 125 m
Temp: 12-7° C

Friday, March 9th: Senftenberg-Hirschberg

A day to hit the hills, I was told. It wasn´t anything like Hutberg, this was gradually up for about 15 km, nice. Again, fields, forests and small villages, the area was beautiful. And, we got chased by two training TT guys who politely asked if they could join us on the ride. Join us? We must look like riders...

We spent a couple of very fun hours with Kai and Patrick, two members of the Bike Tech 24 cycling team, who were training for a couple of events at the end of March. They knew the area well making sure we rode a bit on the cobbles and got home before dark.

Time: 3h 1min
Dist: 83 km
Elev: 318 m
Temp: 11-7° C

We were off the bikes on Thursday because we need to inspect a motorhome which was stored half way up the autobahn to Berlin. we took advantage of it and headed to cultural center of Germany. Great afternoon, a nice lunch, a visit to Tacheles and the Spree... I need a couple of days and nights to explore this city.

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