Today was one of the best, and strangest days I’ve had yet, my issues with my Garmin navigation system have been well documented but this morning as it brought me through a hilly area between Homburg and Zweibrucken in Germany I heard a loud volley of noise. When I looked down into the valley I could see military vehicles and what appeared to be a firing range with about ten fully uniformed soldiers taking shots in unison at the targets down the range.
Now, I’ve seen ‘The Sound of Music’ and I realise that times have changed but I didn’t really fancy meeting any armed German soldiers when I was cycling around on their home patch. I picked up some speed and made my escape. At least I thought I had but less than five minutes later after a nice descent I arrived at a dead end, more green fields, although this one had a sign which said, amongst other things: “Grenze des Militarischen Sicherheitsberechs”. Now my German isn’t the best but with the noise of the firing range in my ears, I decided I need to scarper in the opposite direction.
I got back on the bike and headed back to the last turn in order to clear the area but as I reached the top of the climb I ran into five infantry soldiers standing waiting for me at the cross roads. When I pulled in I took a look around and spotted about two dozen more soldiers at the top of a nearby hill.
I decided to play the lost tourist card and hopefully reduce any issues that I might have had by acting pretty clueless about my location and what sort of trouble I might be in. They pointed me in the direction of Zweibrucken and I got the hell out of dodge.
Today I felt really strong on the bike, I found cycle paths more or less the entire way from Zweibrucken to Karlsruhe, although a fallen tree saw me pushed onto the main road for a spell. Despite the constant rolling hills, the virtually empty bike paths meant no stopping for traffic signals, trains or any such distractions. It was an absolute joy to navigate and my pace was the highest it’s been for the entire journey with a range of between 25 and 35 kmph for the afternoon.
I found myself dancing between France and Germany all day as the road traversed the border in numerous places. It was only on the approach to Karlsruhe I realised that my phone was on it’s last legs battery wise. I send a text message to the support team saying I’d meet them in a small town just west of Karlsruhe, in northern France called Lauterburg.
It turns out the girls never got the message and while I waited in a cafe on the main street the girls were already in Karlsruhe waiting to hear from me. Eventually I managed to convince the local pharmacist to allow me to use her computer to send a message on Facebook. The girls in the mean time had realised my tracker hadn’t moved in a while and decided to come find me which they did. We probably lost about three or four hours due to the mix up.
On the final approach to Homburg, I got lost, my battery lights both died and I could improvise for one, but I had to ride with no back light for a period. While not particularly safe, I was at least on bike paths and in well lit urban areas for the duration I was without power.