One day I woke up and thought to myself: Why not do something that you have never done before? I have been an avid biker all my life and have embarked on a number of longer trips but nothing that was marathon-like. My three children live in Stuttgart in Germany and Berlin is the cultural and political capital of Germany. So I thought, why not ride your bike from Berlin to Stuttgart? It is about 900 km and the trip would take me through the heart of Germany and be an excellent way of really seeing and understanding the country.
So I sat down, logged on to Google Maps and started to plan the trip. This is what it looked like:
Berlin – Bad Belzig – Wittenberg – Dessau – Bernburg – Halle – Weissenfels – Naumburg – Camburg – Jena – Weimar – Ilmenau – Stützerbach – Suhl – Bad Neustadt – Bad Kissingen Hammelburg – Gemünden – Wertheim – Miltenburg – Osterburken – Murrhardt – Backnang – Stuttgart
The route is mostly along many rivers including the Elbe, Saale, Ilm, Main, Rhone, Werra and Neckar. I would pass through the heart of Germany visiting some very historic places so I planned to take the time to see as much as I could. The daily plan included getting on my bike not later than 9.00 AM every day and getting to each destination by 6.00 PM. I planned breaks totaling 2 – 3 hours every day for rest, sightseeing, food and coffee and one complete day off at a wellness hotel in Bad Kissingen.
So then I set the start date in May (2013) and planned everything in great detail including my provisions, the daily routes, where I would overnight, time for sightseeing in interesting locations as well as the types of nutrition that are needed for such an undertaking. I created a training schedule that gradually increased my daily trips to 60 km and more. I did a lot of research to see if anyone had done such a trip before, without any success. There were many stories of bike trips up to 500 km but nothing much longer.
My daily schedule was based on the number of kilometers I expected to achieve for each day, starting conservatively and then adjusted for the different topographies with possible options for any weather problems. I expected to complete the trip of just under 900 km in ten days, including one complete day of rest. As part of my training. I included some hill climbing as well as some days with 80 km plus sessions. This would be the longest single trip I ever attempted and could be the prelude to many more extended trips that are on my list. Ingrid and I always take our bikes with us wherever we go and leave the car at home. In June we will be making an extended bike trip together along the Baltic coast from Warnemunde to the Polish border.
I decided to write a daily blog about the trip and my experiences and posted this every day on this blog as well as my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I have left these blogs on this website so that any interested parties can take a look to see what actually happened to me! It was a great experience and one that I will never forget. I really did get to know the German people, the way they live, their love for forests and their fascinating history. I saw the marked differences (still) between the old Eastern Germany and the West. But I will never forget the feeling of joy and accomplishment when I pulled up outside the door of my daughter’s apartment in Stuttgart.