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Kassel – Erfurt: the broken wheel saga

October 15, 2010


get that tent up!


The hardest morning to get up is this morning. rain battering on the tent, its cold and looks like its settled in. the snooze button is hit for 2 hours until we finally rise, not looking forward to the prospect of climbing the hills towards and out of Kassel. We pack up and don our waterproofs (not the first time to be worn) and head into Kassel without breakfast as all our bread is gone! we enter the Turkish district of the city and stop for borek and coffee, and put away map number 2! on to map 3! our spirits are lifting.


free fruit!


we propose a rough route across the rest of Germany and get back on the bikes, now a little dryer as the rain is easing.

Francesca is still complaining with funny noises from the rear wheel, so we chance upon a bike shop in the centre to take a look. Rupert the bike mechanic takes a look, rides it around a bit, points to the rear hub and chainset and says ‘kaput’. not going to be a good day.

I’d like to think that german efficiency played a part in the next two hours, but also that Rupert was clearly a great mechanic, loved bikes and appreciated the severity of us needing the wheel in working order. He was able to rebuild a new wheel from scratch in one hour! and at a shave off 130 euros, an absolute bargain to boot. if you are ever in Kassel with bike trouble, you have to check out his shop, its top notch!


rupert and the bad wheel


The bike problems that I’ve incurred thus far are my fault. I want to say thanks to Ows for passing Francesca on to me, a great bike and a great deal, but I really should have got her stripped down and rebuilt before taking on a trip of this scale. The entire chainset needs to be replaced in Krakow – Rupert thinks it should make it there. so far there have been no problems with the new wheel; fingers crossed she makes it to Poland where he can be worked on again!

We head out of Kassel, preparing for the worst as the map suggests big hills – Rupert also tells us of cyclist killing roads and 400 m ascents – but we hope for the best. surely enough our hope pays off as the road that looks arduous on the map turns out to be a 20km descent! we finish the day on a high in yet another beautiful wooded campsite, just outside of datterode. We cook up some pasta and enjoy a cheeky beer to celebrate what could have been a disastrous day but turned out pretty decent in the end =)


another top notch german camping destination


Next morning we make an early one as we have to make up for our measly 65km the day before. We pack up sharpish and are back on the road by 930 – a new record! its a beautiful October day, and we set off pushing against a tidy headwind, winding uphill for three hours. we adopt a tour de france style tandem cycle system, taking on the headwind in turns for 20 minute intervals. Eventuallywe hit a downhill into Eisenech – a gorgeous cobbled town with quiet cafes and little traffic – everyone is drinking beer in the main square and we have to work very hard to resist the temptation to join them.


eisenach - nice


We have lunch in the next town of Gorcha and allow ourselves a 15 minute lie down in the sun. it is Pain Day afterall! I sit under the conker tree, watching autumn take its toll on the leaves as they fall all around us. Autumn is running riot, and the trees are preparing for Winter. I’m lying there in the sun hoping its going to be a mild one, remembering to savour beautiful warm days like these as there will be very few in the coming months.


Chillin under a tree


The road to Erfurt from Gorcha is long and dull. We have to stop in Ikea for water and toilet duty, and I make a complete fool of myself in the Ikea restaurant, trying to fill up water bottles with soda water as they refuse to give me anything from the tap. Water is pouring all over the floor and the staff are telling me what I assume is to bugger off in German but I dont understand, so try and act coy and leave pretending not to know what the problem is. The nature of Ikea means you have to go round the entire shop to leave the conventional exit, so I have to jump the entry barrier, further adding to staff bemusement.

We then help a couple load furniture into a car, feeling very out of place and very very smelly.

We get into Erfurt and look for food for dinner, but its Sunday and everything is shut. We convince a petrol station to give us their display cucumber and pepper in the window and try and find a campsite. there are no woods in the surrounding area so we make our way on to a farm and camp between two fields in a line of bushes, with a great view looking back over the city, looking West from where we started 9 days ago. We pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come in such little time, and for doing a 100km day, have a couple beers and settle down for a well deserved nights kip


looking west over erfurt - thats where we came from!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. dave moore permalink
    October 15, 2010 12:29 pm

    loved this – i was thinking “cmon lads, buck up!” but better than that, you got a downhill. enjoy looking at the trees you hippy, ride on, ride on 🙂 dave

  2. October 15, 2010 3:40 pm

    You might want to be careful with that.

    Its great to read your stories guys. All the best with the trip, and the weather. Just to warn you, its already getting a little nippy here in central Turkey.

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