Journey across Germany: surfing edition

October 15, 2023 · bicycle travel

That’s right, today not only was I riding my bike, but I was also surfing the storm fronts. While the weather was quite ominous once again, I was determined to make a smarter effort than the brute force approach of the day before. I knew it would be cold enough for warm clothes, but I only had one set and could not afford the rain to drench them.

So, because the rain clouds came overhead in waves, I decided to chase them as they passed, trying to stay in the wake behind one and ahead of the following one as long as possible. Overall I’d call it mostly successful, and riding on the edge of danger definitely added a dimension of thrill to the experience!

Day 5


Today’s ride took me out of the state of Baden-Württemberg and into Bavaria. The largest and most populous state of Germany, Bavaria is known for beer, apparently. What I noticed was a shift in the farms from grapes to cows.

Crossing east from Heidenheim toward Augsburg, the morning included a crossing of the Danube River, which flows all the way from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. At this point early in its voyage, however, it’s easy to miss. Winding through the quiet forested roads and isolated farm paths was enjoyable, at least until some crazy driver comes up and overtakes going at least 100kph faster than me. Luckily there were only a few stretches that I did not have my own path away from the cars experiencing racer delusion on the twisty hill roads.

I made one stop at a cafe bakery less than 10 km from Augsburg. The interior looked cozy and the owner was very friendly, but I had rain to dodge and distance to cover, so I didn’t stick around for long. Augsburg itself was actually a bit less active than I expected. At least in my experience, these medieval large centers would fill up with eaters and shoppers by Sunday afternoon. Maybe I just caught it on an off day. Oh, by the way, the name of the city comes from some Roman guy called Augustus. There’s a picture of him below, if you can find it behind my mud-clad bike (didn’t clean yesterday since today was wet too, I’m sorry dear bicycle).

Leaving the city took place on a beautiful bike path as wide as an airport runway and lined with exceptionally tall trees. Here, multiple signposted long distance cycling routes converge, including the romantic road (labeled as D9) and the Via Claudia Augustus, tracing the ancient Roman road of the same name which leads to the fertile Po valley in Italy. I really wanted to complete the phrase “leads to” with “Rome” but it doesn’t make it that far.

Beyond this path my route sent me along several long gravel segments of varying degrees of Komoot-ness. Thankfully most of them were rideable. Even if I’m skating across the stones with no traction on the rear tire, as long as the front holds I have no issues. There was only one short part, where my computer was telling me to climb an infinite gradient wall of loose gravel, that I had to hop off and hike.

I mentioned in the intro that I was surfing the rain clouds, seeking shelter in the narrow band between waves. Well, finally, the one behind caught up. In my defense, it travels in a straight line which is definitely cheating. The sudden intensity of the deluge meant I only had moments to hide if I wanted to continue the ride. I spotted a potential savior at the bottom of a small descent, some place with a bit of covering under which I could wait out the rain. The place turned out to be a sports pub specifically for the local football team, and since the game wasn’t until the evening, it was practically empty this midafternoon. I sat by the window and enjoyed my pint until the next break in the weather.

From then on it was smooth going, including the off road bits. Riding towards the Alps, I was hoping to spot the massive peaks in the far off distance, but they were all blocked from view by the clouds that loomed ahead. No matter, I’m expecting some close ups tomorrow!

The Danube
Cycle path in the morning
Forest west of Augsburg
Small village, possibly Schlipsheim
Looking at this now, the building in the back is a little ugly
Vogeltor, part of the 15th century city wall
My escapist pint, cheers!
And the view outside
I'm always delighted to see constellations of bike route logos
Ammersee, evidently lakefront property is quite valuable because I had to work hard to find a photo spot; every meter was either fenced off or blocked by vegetation
Impossible path, as always can't quite show the full steepness
Horse club crossing the field under ray of sunshine
The easy sort of unpaved. Also riding this train would be fun!
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Next: Bike trip continued: first taste of the Alps
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