After a very long time coming we have finally got the music rights to our film. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.
So after months of planning, nearly two weeks of cycling, a BBQ, a visit to Brooks, broken bikes, fixed bikes, newspaper interviews, polo and a huge amount of money raised we were finally closing in on Berlin.
We were just 70 miles from the German capital on the morning of the 15th and we woke up to beautiful sunshine breaking through the trees. It had stayed dry all night, and better still we could see that the ferry was running. We hopped aboard, paid our two Euros and then cycled the 5km into the town of Havelberg. As we had eaten all our food the night before, we stopped to grab a pastry and a coffee each. After this we found some bathrooms to wash our faces and brush our teeth.
Jess was in a lot of pain after the mosquitoes in the woods, in fact we were all bitten quite a bit. Andy was also in some pain, but that was because Matt had persuaded him to put deep heat in his shorts!
We rode for about 20 miles before the total mileage count reached the illusive 900 miles. We congratulated each other, and pulled in for a celebratory beer. We still had 50 miles to go though. So we jumped back on the bikes and set off again. We all had our jerseys on again today, it being the final day.
We past through the village of Friesack, then stopped for lunch in Nauen. 10 miles, and one more river later and we were in outer Berlin. Dyfan stopped to buy a pair of jeans and trainers (as he cleverly save weight by not bringing any) and we set off again.
The road into Berlin was a great cycle path passing under the motorway a few times before cutting through some nice rural landscapes. With about 10 miles to go until our destination we met with the traffic again (although still on a separate path)
It was rolling hills all the way into the city, but it was all enjoyable. We were shaking hands and hugging on the bikes, it nearly got teary too! We stopped to use the Garmin once we were near the centre. Then Jess got another puncture! We sat by the road fixing her tube and chatting to a guy from Bradford.
Just five more miles and we were at Matt's flat. It was a great feeling to be putting the bikes down and taking off the panniers and racks. We got showered and changed, then Matt took us out to get dinner and some celebratory beers! We had made it. 980 miles, 5 punctures, 1 snapped stem, 3 crashes, 1 broken rack, wet shoes, early mornings, cobbles and tired legs...
...It was all worth it!
Total miles: 71.2
Time in the saddle: 5h 16m
Total time: 10h 6m
Thanks for reading the story. A post will be up soon about our time in Berlin too.
It was a slow start today. We all got packed up, had showers, did some sit-ups with the Canadians and finally left the campsite at 10:30am. It was good to compare our route with somebody else, and so getting out of the town was easy. We got back onto the cycle path and said goodbye to our new friends for what would be the last time.
We were supposed to be reaching Berlin today as it was only 121 miles away. We made a decision in the morning though to split the journey up. Jess was still riding single-speed, so Matt and Andy decided to join her in the same gear for the last two days. After a couple of hours we reached the town of Gartow, and wanted to push on to the appropriately named Schnackenburg to stop for lunch... But then the rain started!
It had been sunny all morning, and we were slightly kicking ourselves for not leaving earlier. Being a Sunday too, nowhere was open. After a search around the town we noticed that one place was open. We left the bikes outside, covered the saddles and went to grab a seat under the shelter. We got a pizza each which was really tasty, and then we had some fancy ice-cream too. We ended up sitting in the cafe for 2 hours, drawing pictures of each other and dragging out our drinks.
By the time we left it was 3pm and we had only done 20 miles. Luckily we hadn't planned a destination for the day, we said we would just push on as far as we could. The rain stopped and we pedaled hard to try and recoup some mileage.
The road ran parallel with the river, which meant it was flat albeit windy. We had one ferry crossing we could see on the map, it was 34 miles away near a place called Behrendorf. Behrendorf was Behren to say the least, nobody was there! The only campsite on the map was over the water in Havelberg. We had been stopping and starting all afternoon, and at about 7pm the rain started again, we took shelter under a tree as it lashed it down around us. The clouds dissappeared after 12 minutes and we finished the last 6 miles to the ferry crossing.
When we got there however, there was nobody to be seen. The boat was there, but the sign read '06:00h - 20:00h' It was now 20:12. We had missed it by 12 minutes. We were devastated, we had no food, water or campsite.
We look around, and behind us was a huge stretch of woodland that we had just passed through. This was gong to be our best bet. Jess and Andy cycled back 5km to try and fill up the water bottles whilst Ed, Matt and Dyfan found a good spot for us to sleep and started to rummage through the bags for some food. We managed to pull together a tin of fruit, two sachets of porridge oats, one pasta, one Cous Cous and a small amount of bread. We had also collected 5/6 apples and a handlebar bag full of plums earlier in the day.
When the others returned with water, Andy and Matt fetched all the dry wood they could find and everyone set up the tents. We built a frame to hang the kettle on and had fruit salad with porridge to start. Then a small amount of pasta each. it was enough though and we all felt full.
We dried our shoes next to the fire and watch the huge trees swaying above us. This was by far the best camping night, in the woods, by ourselves. The fire died down and the mosquitoes picked up. The first ferry was at 6am. Tomorrow we would be arriving in Berlin!
Total miles: 52
Time in the saddle: 3h 51m
Total time: 9h 42m
We woke up to another wet morning, some of us resisting the 6am wakeup call for as long as possible! Ed and Dyfan rode ahead to find somewhere nice to get breakfast whilst the rest of us finished packing up - I swear the amount of stuff we were carrying had multiplied...
After some pastries and strong coffee, we had a quick look at a map in a local shop and set off towards Luneberg (our lunchtime destination). We passed through lots of small villages, one in particular caught our eye as there were many horse-drawn carriages passing by us and using the cycle route which meant we cycled mainly on-road. The weather was looking good and we were setting a good pace, especially Jess who'd found a burst of energy from somewhere and was flying up the hills en route. That was until... A PUNCTURE! At the top of the next hill, Matt also realised he had snapped a spoke, Andy was trying to true his slightly bent rear wheel and Jess was replacing her inner tube. We stopped for around 20 minutes and had an audience of German children heckling us as we worked!
We made it Luneberg in good time and rewarded ourselves with a traditional German fish and chips for lunch! Whilst we tried to eat we were accosted by an elderly gentlemen who tried to tell us that children in the UK were rioting because they weren't free enough and were too controlled by their parents. It was a very awkward one-sided conversation. After lunch we sat down for coffee in the town square and noticed two touring cyclists with extremely packed bikes. They came over and we found out they were Canadian and aiming for Berlin too and would be cycling the same route as us for the next day or two. They left Luneberg just before us but we would see them on the road several times again that day.
Coming out of Luneberg was a little confusing and at one point we almost ended up on the autobahn (motorway)! After a water stop a few towns along we bumped into the Canadians again who bought us an Ice Cream each. The sun was boiling hot and we desperately needed to top up our sun lotion too - our tan lines were interesting to say the least!
The next stretch of the day's journey was very scenic, at least twenty miles of national park stood between the towns of Dahlenburg and Dannenburg and we enjoyed the rolling hills through the forest. Sadly, this wasn't to be Jess' day and during one climb her rear derailleur gave up and refused to change gear. Despite our best efforts it was clear that it was beyond adjustment and because it was getting late and the next day was Sunday we also wouldn't be able to find an open Bike Shop. Jess decided to ride off ahead as she knew she wouldn't be able to keep up a good pace riding in one gear on the hilly path.
It was going to take too long to get to Breese so we carried on through the last few miles of the day, and decided to finish in Dannenburg. We found a campsite after we picked up food and beer. The reception was over the road in the public swimming pool, so as we set up the tents Ed and Andy went to book us in. They were very excited when they returned. They had bumped into the Canadian guys from earlier, and had invited them back to the campsite to stay with us. We ate dinner and played cards and other games before we headed in for bed. It was great to have some international company.
Total miles: 66.2
Time in the saddle: 4h 45m
Total time: 9h 45m
We had now camped in the wet for the last 4 days so it was great to wake up again in a warm dry bed. We had set the alarms for 7am, and breakfast was served at 7:30am. We had toast, jam, cheese, eggs and sliced meats. A great way to begin another day in the saddle.
We used a hairdryer to dry our shoes as they were still wet from the night before. It seemed a fruitless task though as the weather forecast for day looked bad and it was already spitting outside. Ironically, the website we used to check the forecast was called www.wetter.de. With our raincoats on we headed out the door and said goodbye to Joey.
We were using carrier bags in our shoes to try and stop our feet from getting soaked but after a while they begin to serve no purpose other than to make us look silly, especially squelching through supermarkets.
After sheltering from (what we thought was) the worst of the rain in a bus shelter we found a supermarket to get the usual daily dosage of cereal bars and other energy rich goodies. We also grabbed a coffee and a toilet break before leaving again.
The roads out of Bremen were really good. With the exception of one dirt track, we sailed across the smooth tarmac. We were soaked through but had a lot of fun singing Bohemian Rhapsody amongst other songs as we passed through some very sparse farmland. We stopped for lunch in Rottenburg and had trouble finding our way through the towns and villages of Otter, Ottersburg and Ottermoor but eventually reached a supermarket in Handeloh to grab dinner and ask after a campsite.
The guy who worked there was incredibly helpful. He gave us his map and let us keep it. He pointed out that the next campsite in a place beginning with 'b' was 7km north in Buchholz or 'Buchholz in der Nordheide' to use it's full name.
The campsite was huge, it had hot showers, a restaurant, a playpark and a beautiful enormous lake! We set up the tents and had a beer and some food before taking a walk around. We saw some people swimming in the lake and decided that we should go in too. It was freezing cold and full of massive fish but we had a lot of fun and can highly recommend night-swimming in German lakes! We all made use of the hot showers after our little dip and then a few of us went and sat out on the lakeside. The full moon lit up the water and it was almost completely silent. It was a lovely experience and probably one of the nicest nights of the trip. Above all else it was dry!
Dyfan ingeniously strapped our shoes to the tree with bungee cord to dry them overnight and we settled down for night five in the tents.
Total miles: 65
Time in the saddle: 4h 50m
Total time: 10h 15m
Day Ten was one of our best riding days of the trip. We covered 80 miles in exactly 5hours, giving us an average speed of 16mph.
We set off from the campsite at around 8am, and went into town to grab some breakfast and snacks for our jerseys. Then we pushed off down the cycle paths that ran parallel to the country roads. The riding was flat and smooth, as it had been for most of mainland Europe.
We hadn't managed to find a map (anywhere) for this day of the trip. All we had to rely on was a crib sheet that we had put together the night before in the campsite. It turns out we added 9 miles to the day using this crib sheet instead of a map, but it worked.
We had to get to a small place called: Bassum, here we would be met by Joey (Our host during our stay in Bremen) and he would help guide us into the city.
The roads were easy today, perhaps it was the excitement to get to Bremen, or the breakfast we had, but something made us fly.. We didn't stop for lunch as we were meeting Joey at 13:00 20 miles from Bremen.
We were a little late, but met Joey at 13:15 on the road between Bassum and Syke. We all introduced ourselves, then followed our host through the last 30Km of countryside before the city.
Matt had been having some trouble with his brakes for the last two days, and was hoping to get them fixed in Bremen, but on the way in they gave up completely and Matt wrapped himself and his bike around a streetlight. It looked more dramatic than it was and we were only 3km from a bike shop.
Joey had told us that this bike shop would be fixing our bikes free of charge! This was just one of the many kind things that Joey organised for us, but also another example of the kindness shown to us by complete strangers.
We dropped the tired bikes off and headed back to Joey's apartment. It was awesome, beer and pasta awaited us, as well as a hot shower.
After dinner we went back to the shop to pick up the bikes. We couldn't believe how nice the shop was, old track and racing frames everywhere, some vintage jerseys and caps as well as modern parts too. The guys in the shop had fixed Matt's brakes, changed the bars, the bar tape, shifted the levers to a better position and swapped the rounded off bolt in the front brake for a brand new one. We were so grateful for this, and still can't believe it. Joey had also organised to local press to come and take pictures of us for the paper.
One more thing we were excited about in Bremen was polo! Although the rain had started up, we were all cycling through the city and picking up polo players along the way. We got to the car park of Werder Bremen football club and the guys started setting up the goals and cones.
We played on our road bikes which was tough, and Dyfan and Ed had a go too. they both picked it up well, but Dyfan fell off and got tangled in his bike.
It was hammering it down, so we were humbled by the fact these guys had come to play. We left polo at around 9pm and had a quick (wet) tour of the old city before going back to the apartment to dry off and drink some more beer.
We wanted to say a huge thank you to all the people in Bremen who helped us out, kept us busy/fed/dry and to the guys who fixed our bikes. It really gave a fantastic impression of the city. The name of the bike shop is fahrradfeinkos and you can find them here: www.fahrradfeinkost.de
Total miles: 81
Time in the saddle: 5h 4m
Total time: 7h
The weather seemed quite good when we awoke on the morning of day nine. We packed up our stuff as usual and, although it did rain in the night, the tents were drying well and we left the campsite at around 9am. We were splitting the trip from here to Bremen into two days as the rain started once again, and we were still 140 miles from the city.
We headed northwest through Vreden and then Ahaus (we couldn't get the Madness song out of our heads for hours.) and then the rain started. It didn't last too long however, so we kept moving.
We were used to the flat roads now, and were working well as a group again. We mounted the camera to the front and to the back of the bike, so we got some decent footage for the video too!
At lunchtime we stopped in a small city called Rheine (ironically the river that passes through is the Ems) The city was nice, it was packed full of people and we had our first Currywurst of the trip. It was from a van and it tasted awesome.
We had a quick scout round to buy each other a 1 Euro gift. We also nearly bought Dyfan a huge wool saddle cover, but he said he wouldn't use it. So Ed brought him a small plastic windmill for the front of his bike instead.
We set off out of the city, and into a vast expanse of farmland, around 25 miles of field after field, and because of this grid-like layout the roads we very straight and dull - the weather was good though so we kept turning the cranks until the sun started to drop in the sky.
We were heading for Bippen, and on the way dropped into a super market to get some dinner. When we asked the staff they told us that there was no campsite in Bippen... It was getting late, but luckily they pointed us towards one in the village 3Km away called Furstenau.
It took us a few attempts, but when we got there the place was very quiet, and the receptionist kept laughing at us. She was friendly though, and she led us to our pitch. We passed loads of caravans and (un) mobile homes. All of which were empty.
The campsite had a nice bar and, after being chased by a big goose, we decided to get the second Currywurst of the day and sit back with a beer.
Tomorrow we would make it to Bremen.
Total miles: 65.2
Time in the saddle: 4h 15m
Total time: 9h 20m
We woke up to more rain in the morning. The caravan park was bleak, the bikes needed to be packed and the wet tents folded away. Everybody quietly got ready and we left at around 7:30.
We went into the main high st in search of coffee and breakfast. We found a nice coffee shop, but they didn't open til 8, so we waited outside. We took out the map and started to sort out the crib sheet for the day.
The rain had forced us to alter the route, so now we were scrolling down the page looking for anywhere within 100 miles east of us beginning with a 'b'. The place we found was called Bad Benthiem, so we decided to head there. After coffee and postcards home we moved on to a bakery which had now opened, serving sandwiches and croissants. We made use of their toilets too.
Weirdly the kind lady who had helped us find a campsite the night before walked into the bakery and asked how we slept! This was a rare coincidence as she lived 12 miles away, and it was 8am.
We left the border town at around 9, and head northeast in the direction of Bremen, we ideally wanted to get there within 2 days, but the weather was slowing us right down and we were still 220 miles from there. We passed through a number of dull German towns (notably entering 'The Kingdom of Pleasure' in one instance) before crossing the border back into The Netherlands as we snaked our way over the landscape. The rain was on and off today, not as bad as the day before, but still enough to slow us down a bit.
We stopped for lunch in a small place called Isselburg, then carried along through the borderlands. We had to cross a huge river, which cost us lots of miles trying to find a bridge, and in fact the mileage for the day was double what it was supposed to be in the end (goodbye to the idea of Bremen in two days).
Once we crossed the border for the 3 time that day we were back in The Netherlands, and annoyingly would be spending the night there as now it was getting late too. The location was really nice, lots of woodland and peace and quiet. It did mean however that we had to ride about 5 miles of dirt track which wasn't very smooth going.
We found a campsite by a lake and struggled with a newspaper which said London on the front and had a big picture of fire.
The campsite had hot showers, a washing machine and WI-FI. so we were pretty comfortable there although a bit overlooked by the neighbours. We sadly hadn't made it to Bad Benthiem, but we did choose a campsite called Berkelhook! we were now 141 miles from Bremen, and 395 miles from Berlin.
Total miles: 72
Total time: 10h 45m