A life of travel is full of challenges
The rest in Switzerland was welcomed, I took a week in the end. I was briefly submerged into the private life of a holiday courier. Great way to spend a summer. I visited some local tourist traps and enjoyed the changeable weather chilling in the 5 star accommodation of a Canvas Holiday tent. I had a chance to properly clean my kit and make minor repairs.
The bike was pretty beaten up after the first stage and I'd started to consider new parts, a running issue has been a Race Face middle chainring which has slightly different spacing to the Deore rings it runs with therefore upon changing down 3rd to 2nd often the chain would get caught up and not engage. Also, a major rethink is required on my handlebar set-up, rigging up the exposure light bracket on the out side of the grip does not work and forget holding the grips with gloves on and light attached. I mull over options.
The lakes in Switzerland shimmer a luminescent blue with clear waters and comfortable surface temperatures. Careful though because dip to a standing position in the water and the temperature drops at least 7 degrees 1.5m under. As a keen open water swimmer this was a paradise for me. Decisions to purchase a waterproof camera come into fruition.
Back on the road and still loving life with my 1:1 mil 2006 road map with few towns and no contours, I knew there would be some climbs to break out of Switzerland regardless of route. Eventually, I decided that I would travel to visit a friend in Berlin. Apologies for promises of heading south. I planned to make for the border via Luzern and traverse down the Rhine and head due north west across Germany, no worries. The truth is after a break off the bike, I may have gone out slightly strong, also leaving the idyllic scenery made me wish for distance between myself and a potential return to comfort.
Needless to say, I hammered it through and was ruined towards the end of the second day which brought me to Neufchatel, a fortified town west of the Rhine in France. Here I chilled on an unplanned camp-site and met a very cool couple from Switzerland who were up doing MotoGP training. It was a welcome break to relax and share some food. After a morning of thunder I arose to help some fellow tourers with a buckled wheel whereby they'd now repaired 4 snapped spokes, I was happy to help with some of my accrued knowledge from Wiggle.
On this day, I crossed the river into Germany, I'm constantly amused how language and culture can change with a line in the dirt. I rode on and on, the rain continued. I was travelling through towns and crops, the 7:30pm trigger came to start looking for hidden camp spots. In need of water, I relented to ask in broke German some people outside a house, one child could manage a few lines. An older chap, took my bottle and whilst laughing screwed it up and chucked in the bin. I thought and my expression probably said, 'cheers mate'. Moments later a women emerged and gave me a fresh bottle. I was very appreciative and moved on. After a few reci's down some lines of crops I was getting concerned; nothing ideal. In desperation, I can settle for half, there was an opening up across a field which hooked round. As appropriate I waited for a gap in the traffic and bailed for it, running up remembered to switch off my lights to not draw attention. Well, not to bad; a line of soft cultivated open land between two large fruit trees. I pitched as the rain came in.
The ground was soft and in a slight trough, I would quickly learn a valued lesson. 02:00am swishing swamp beneath me, literally a water bed, two secondary pegs having collapsed, I laughed, the rain hammered on my face from the touching tent skin. This was a PB, even better than that time with a fellow champion Wiggle worker Fraser doing the OMM in Wales where we camped in storms in a 30 year old fossil of a tent, at least it held upright. Morning came and I made my earliest start yet 06:00am. Only comedy sat with me.
Tired legs and lack of ambition to buy a German map allowed my road to end, a short adjoining Autobahn prevented me from continuing on course. Around this time I rode past a car hire centre, I laughed at the thought of such treachery to the cause, when the dead end came, an idea came to me that perhaps a price enquiry may be in order, I felt like the child at Christmas. The bright lights and gorgeous young lady left me little choice, I apologise for this but, well sometimes you've just got to read the signs.
You can read more about Harry's amazing adventures here