Sunday, 19 May 2013
Black Sea or Bust - Day 2 - Beuron to Munderkingen (86 Km)
A grim start to the day. After breakfast in the Museum of Modern Kitsch I push Doris through steady rain a mile or so to the nearest railway station. the only upside (and there always is one) is that my wet weather gear appears to work well. I heave a fully laden Doris onto the train which takes us 9 km up the valley, then another mile's walk to the bike workshop. I ring the bell and a cheery head pops out of an upstairs window. I gesture toward Doris's broken bits, he winces. He comes down and winces more as he inspects Doris more closely. Not only is the gear system wrecked so are very specific mounting plates and the bits that they bolt to on Doris are bent. He speaks good English which is a mercy as my 'get through the day' German doesn't run to gear ratios and wheel centring. I start to babble about leaving Doris and renting another bike for the length of time it takes to fix her. I am prepared if necessary to buy a new bike. I am desperate, I am as locked into my schedule as the German armies were locked into their train timetables as they invaded France and Belgium in World War One. Heinz, I looked up his name on the internet later, is looking round his workshop muttering "Maybe, maybe". He strips off the broken bits then holding one of the vital mounting plates he offers it up in turn to the other cycles in his shed until he finds one that almost matches. Slowly he cobbles together something that will work and he has a Shimano gear system in stock that is better than my original. Forty five minutes later Doris and I are back on the road. Heinz is a great and good man and should your bicycle break down in Hausen look no further.
The Danube gorge continued for about 25 km, the limestone cliff tops dotted with schlossen, shrines and follies. The rain that had been unrelenting all morning petered out as I arrived in Sigmaringen. I spotted a Bratwurst stall on the outskirts and screeched to a halt. I love bratwurst, when I was working in Cologne for six weeks on We Will Rock You there was scarcely a day when I didn't pop across the road to Mr Wurst in the Hauptbanhof food court. This Sigmaringen sausage was particularly welcome after a tough morning.
The Danube valley opens out at this point, though the river itself looks no more impressive than the River Wey at Godalming, the hills recede into the distance and suddenly there is a lot of sky. I could be on a cycling tour of Norfolk with vast open fields stretching into the distance though I have not seen any signs of inbreeding among the locals. Apparently you have to go up into the mountains or to Switzerland to see that sort of thing. It's still a grey day with nothing to see, nothing to distract one from the sheer tedium of cycling, not a gear change in an hour. I don't listen to music on headphones partly because I like to hear what is going on around me and partly because I left my headphones on the kitchen table at home so I sing a bit. The Eton Boating Song is good for cycling and my background in musical theatre has given me a lot of material to murder. Sadly I am not very good at remembering the lyrics so I end up la-la-la-ing. Oklahoma is a favourite, followed perhaps by a bit of West Side Story and I am sure that Dr May and MrTaylor would enjoy my version of Under Pressure.
Finally I make it to the pretty market town of Munderkingen where I am booked in for the night. The lady at the hotel tells me that I am booked into their 'Chocolate' room. The walls are chocolate brown and white, the pillows are chocolate brown, there are photographs of chocolate on the walls and on the ceiling there is giant plastic chocolate bar partially unwrapped from its silver foil. How quaint I think as I stagger into the shower. I have done 86 km, admittedly nine of them by train but I seem to suffering no ill effects other than exhaustion.
I go out to eat and have a delicious pizza served to me by a cheerful lady called Gertrude. Gertrude has worked in this restaurant for 24 years. She tells me that she has a garden on an island in the middle of the Danube and that Wednesday is her day off and that she spends every Wednesday in her garden. She shows me her album with photographs that she has taken of her garden, the produce that she grows in it and the creatures that she shares it with. They are very beautiful photos. Gertrude is a happy and contented woman.