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Journal for 19-Aug : Tok Cuttoff Road

It's amazing how much better you feel after a night's sleep, especially if it's preceded by a warm shower and is in a compfy hotel bed. Perhaps I got in a good day's cycling and arenít writing this journal all frustrated. Maybe it's because I left the rain where I found it back in France.

Tried to call home from a T-Mobile pay phone. For $3 I got to speak for about 20 seconds. It would have been longer except the machine was using the credit faster than it could accept more coins.

Buffet breakfast laid on by the hotel. A massive selection of cold meats, cheeses and heavy potato or rye bread on offer. Also a few exotic French pastries (but only as good as those in Australia, ie a bit stale). It was actually a pretty good breakfast, even if it did seem like a meal of ham sandwiches.

In Germany no-one works on Sunday (except street cleaners mopping up after last night's street party), so everything is closed, and the roads deserted. So I used the biggest, meanest main road I could find to leave Worms.

The one thing I'd been told about cycling in Germany is if you feel joy if the wind at your back, it means you are going the wrong way. So far that's been about right. So it was comforting to have a headwind all the way to the ferry crossing the Rhine at Gernsheim.

For the next 60km or so, I was negotiating the labyrinth of tiny back roads, lanes, parks and housing estates of the numerous satellite towns of Frankfurt. My suggested route guide was reasonably accurate, but it very hard to follow because there were so many red herrings to chase down. The sequence of the day was: ride 500m, stop & check the map, check the bike route signs, check the map, check my other map, check the road signs, take a guess at the right way to go, cycle 1000m, turn around and go back the way I should have been going.

The lanes and back ways were also a maze of well marked, though somewhat meaningless to me, official bike routes. The undeveloped parts (in the minority) contain patches of attractive woodland where the trails become unsurfaced and which my recommend route delighted in sharing with me.

After bumping down a country lane made of cement potholes I noticed a small vendor's cabin, crowds of people (who'd arrived by bicycle) and a magnificent aroma wafting off the nearby paddocks. I've never been a big fan of strawberries, but stopped to see if I could get some. Unfortunately they only came by the bucket load, *and* I had to pick them myself!

I followed the main road into Damstadt, the largest of the satellite towns and a decent sized city in it's own right. Whenever I stopped, people would offer to help me. This inevitably involves my explaining I'm from Australia, can't speak German, and am looking for a tiny street they've never heard of.

After another bout of this, I aborted any attempt at following the suggest wiggle through the back streets of Damstadt, and followed the main road I'd entered on till I found the main road I was to leave on. For block after block I checked the street names, road signs (all pointed to the centre of town or Frankfurt) till I was spat out the other side of town heading in the complete wrong direction.

Following a railway down bike paths, footpaths, parking lots and a children's playground (I managed a short game of 10 tin with some local kids) I hunted for the main road leading to my next town.

The road I eventually took had no road sign to my next town, but it did have a bike route sign to that town. Several ks later another sign revealed I wasn't quite on the road I'd hoped for. I was now relying on the bike route to skip cross country, and when it did, it was through a forest on a muddy gravelly track.

By Dietzenbach I was to following another official bike route that I was struggled to locate. A typical German cyclist offered to help me, and literally lead me up the garden path, around a mulberry bush, and god knows where else. He did a good job (and was rewarded with Swiss chocolate), but he was unimpressed with my planned route, and suggested an alternative that only added another 35km to this nightmare. When I explained where I was hoping to finish tonight he looked at his watch, frowned and added "das ist nicht gute!".

I eventually relented and bought a 500g punnet of fresh strawberries, then wondered what I was going to do with them.

Through the back streets of yet another satellite town I saw a flag pole proudly flying the Australian flag. "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!" I yelled, but I'm still waiting for my "oi, oi, oi".

Obertshausen I handled a bit better. Most German towns have a town map posted at the entrances on main road, and this time I made good use of it. I plotted a course (over the railway, freeway, left at Berlinerstrasser, right at xyz, etc) and only bungled the last turn where the street name of my road changed 50m after I joined it.

I was supposed to join a bike way leaving Obertshausen, and when I finally found it I was happily zipping along smooth bitumen with lots of other riders. In Germany the wind at you back can mean only one thing: I was going the wrong way. It took several ks of a dirt track to fix this blunder.

I crossed the Mainz river at Hanau, and only made one wrong turn to Eslee. There I had a different navigational problem: my route had been dug up for a new industrial estate.

Ate a lunch of banana and fresh strawberries once I found my main road, at 4:30pm.

Once finally on the main road there was a bit of traffic, a bit of wind in my face and it was a bit uphill, but at *last* I was making progress!

Gentle climbing to Budigen, moderate climbing to, then some steep up and overs to Ober-moos. As I got higher, the exposed ridges and hills were decorated with huge power generating windmills.

My legs were killing, I'd eaten all my food, it was after 8pm and I'd hardly stopped for more than 10min all day. But with just 2km to go I was scooting down a loverly smooth country road with sun in the sky and the wind at my back and .... I stopped and checked my maps and yes, I was going the wrong way!

Slept well. Nicked off without paying self registration. I felt no guilt as none of the facilities (like water) were working.
Fast boring riding through low forest with tailwind. Things improved on the cuttoff rd. More hills, more scenic etc.
Bald eagle flew across road above me.
Breakfast and a dump by Copper River.
Roadworks 47 miles. Poo.
Roadworks very tame, but anything where a machine is operating gets a lolly pop lady (all very very beautiful young women - either I've been away too long already or the foreman is a leach). And cyclists not allowed to ride: must get lift in the pilot car :-( .
Offered lunch by Bob and Sara in campervan. Very nice too, chatted cycling for hours.

Slow lazy riding into evening. Fantastic scenery. Trying to make last 21 miles of roadworks before pilot car starts operating.

Very rough bush camp. Wasted 1hr trying to unjam time saving fly clips.

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