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Bridging the gap

Mon 19th Sep 2011
Day 9
Start: Landstuhl, Germany
End: Bad Herrenalb, Germany
Distance today: 145k
Distance so far: 910k

I was in a better state of mind on the bike today, which was a good thing because I was there a long time. I covered more ground than any day so far, not all of it in the right direction, but there were also plenty of delays that meant I arrived in Bad Herrenalb over 9 hours after leaving Landstuhl.

The problems started on leaving Landstuhl. I asked at the hotel if there was a supermarket nearby, the reply suggested there were so many it wasn't worth giving specific directions. Predictably I couldn't find one. Equally unsurprisingly the two cash machines I tried didn't work. My disdain for the town was now such I just wanted to get out so left without resolving either problem.

The biggest delays came from the tricky navigation, I had to stop a lot and went off course a couple of times. The biggest navigational issue though was more substantial. After yesterday's problem with my map showing a non-existent campsite, this time it appeared to show a non-existent bridge. Not a small bridge either but one over the Rhine. Had it been blown up? I've not seen much news this week. It took me a while to realise the map was showing a shuttle ferry crossing that was indeed in operation so I made use of it, I guess I can no longer say I've cycled all the way from Dunkirk. The alternative, making use of the next bridge, would have involved re-entering France, the border being only a mile away, which I found surprising as I thought I'd left France well behind days ago.

Doesn't look a lot like a bridge from here.

The day's ride was largely flat and uneventful, though it did go through lots of pretty hamlets with timber framed houses, and the roads were often through vineyards or orchards giving off a warm aroma. One village had a banner indicating a shop was the 2009 European Weisswurst championship winner. I expect there's not a great geographical spread across the continent to that competition.

The start and end of the day were more dramatic though, taking in two pine-forested parks. It began with a climb and then very long sweeping descent through the Pfalzerwald, the road lined with memorials, presumably to motorcyclists. The day ended in the Schwarzwald. Entering it required ascending the hardest climb of the trip so far, four kilometres of uncompromising gradient. At the steepest point I considered walking, and would have been no slower doing so. I believe that tomorrow's short ride could be punctuated by a lot more of the same.

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