It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon halfway August and I am working from home. Our plan is to leave immediately after work to get some miles under our wheels already. We packed up everything yesterday evening so we won’t lose any time tonight. A few hours of riding should see us well into the Mosel region, which would bring us into striking distance of Munich tomorrow. Sounds like a good start to the first section of our Eastafette Project.
But we haven’t even left yet and it looks like our plans are about to change already. Sofie had noticed on Facebook that Aaron Mitchell would be throwing a birthday party on Saturday somewhere near Karlsruhe. And he has invited anyone crazy enough to show up. That sounds like us! But if we leave tonight we’d be there way too early. So instead of getting on our bikes we have a laid back evening at home, ordering some pizza and sipping on a glass of wine.
We’ve never actually met Aaron or Herbert, the German friend he is staying with. We don’t care though and invite ourselves anyway. What’s the use of Facebook friends if you cannot turn them into real friends, right? And Karlsruhe isn’t too far off our planned route to the Balkans anyway.
The bikes will not return to Belgium for the next couple of years, so the weekend before leaving, we gave them a well deserved clean and check-over. The clean was well overdue and it’s easier to spot any left-over potential problems or loose bolts. When we leave on Saturday morning they do look nice and shiny in the (late) morning sun. We’re slow to get going, but we have time. Especially since we plan to stay on the motorway at least until we get out of Belgium. We arrive in Bitburg, Germany just in time for a light lunch. From Bitburg onwards, the ride gets more interesting and before we know it we have arrived at Johanniskreuz, a place we often try to avoid because it gets very busy with bikers racing up and down the curvy road. But it’s surprisingly calm for such a sunny Saturday in August. There’s even a table available at the cafe near the start of that road. A perfect opportunity to have some cake and a cappuccino.
We’re not sure what or whom to expect at Herbert’s place. When we arrive it’s just Herbert, his wife Marianne and Aaron. We’re greeted like old friends and feel at home immediately. As locals start to arrive for the party the atmosphere gets even cosier. To our surprise another Belgian also shows up. We’ve been following Joris on his trip to Central Asia, but had never actually met. There seems to be a pattern emerging here.
It’s already well past 2AM when we finally retire to Herbert’s dojo which will be our little private den for the night. But as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
I was hoping to sleep in, but I wake up early due to the sun pouring in through the skylight window. I go outside to help deal with the aftermath of yesterday’s festivities. Marianne has already prepared some juice and coffee. We’re in no rush to get going and that’s ok, there are still 3 weeks of riding ahead for us. We spend the morning chatting and working through the leftovers of last night’s dinner buffet before saying goodbye to Aaron and our generous hosts.
Although it was already past noon when we got on the road, the ride today is fast going and smooth, but rather boring. We make good distance and the landscape and roads do get more interesting as we close in on the Austrian border. A campsite near Linzen, just short of the border, seems nice enough to put up our tent. As we don’t really feel like cooking today, we indulge and eat out. I just can’t cross Germany without spätzle and some pfilzen. Before we walk to the restaurant, I take a few minutes to check the oil levels and top up Sofie’s bike.
Our first night in the tent brings along an all too familiar camping dilemma. Waking up in the middle of the night and having to decide whether to get out of the warm sleeping bag or postponing the toilet visit until there’s no other choice. It’s great to be back on the road!