A holiday for the soul

09 Nov 23 | By pp-admin

Our members had the opportunity to be inspired by another cycle tour adventure at a recent Social Night.  Jill Mortier and Peter Beers talked about their experiences cycling in Germany in 2022 and 2023, covering over 5,100kms in total.

Peter and Jill have done quite a bit of international cycle touring – with six of their eight trips to Germany including cycling.  What keeps them going back for more is a combination of Germany’s cycling infrastructure, beautiful scenery and well signposted cycling routes including forest paths.  “We have holidays using bikes” said Peter, “but that doesn’t mean that we just ride.  For us, bikes are a great way to get around, stop and see things, and have an enjoyable holiday.” In 2022, they rode 67 days out of 133 days on tour; and in 2023, 50 days out of a 78 day tour.

Their cycle touring has included most types of bikes and these two recent trips were self-guided on e-bikes.  “We’re getting older” Jill pointed out, “and e-bikes are great for steep hills and on longer days. We don’t ride every day.  Sometimes, we stay a few days in one place and travel locally by whatever transport is most convenient: train, bus, ferry, walking or riding”.  Being ‘on the road’  for more than three months on these trips means carrying a significant load – requiring rear panniers, as well as rack and handlebar bags.  So it wasn’t ‘credit card cycle touring’ (the topic of a previous social night talk from Andrew Stuart which you can read about in News Wheel here).

They found Germany cycle friendly, with drivers being conscious of bike riders and considerate.  “Everyone cycles” said Jill, “and wherever you go you’ll see people on bikes. It doesn’t matter what your bike is like or what you wear: it’s just an everyday way to get around”. It was refreshing to hear that most drivers are considerate and conscious of bike riders. With an extensive network of cycle routes, Germany has many themed paths – Peter mentioned castles, fairy tales and iron curtain themes.

Having completed many cycle tours, they are keenly aware of the need for good route information and were able to highlight a range of ‘traditional’ information available in paper maps and Bikeline Blue Books but also the ease of using the wide range of technology – websites and Apps like Komoot and Garmin BaseCamp and good old Google maps. “Although there are good (mainly state-based) route planning websites” said Jill, “some are in German only.”

But even with good preparation, our intrepid cyclists overcame a range of challenges – water-logged and damaged roads, out of date maps and hiccups with accommodation and storage of bikes.  Of particular note was that batteries (for e-bikes) are categorised as a dangerous good.  This can be problematic for ensuring safe storage of e-bikes.

But both declare Germany is well worth a cycle visit: with lots to see and do, good bike culture, infrastructure and facilities and the availability of lots of information. Peter puts it well: “We like slow travel holidays – sightseeing, understanding what we see and raising our awareness and having life experiences on a moderate budget.  Cycle touring gives us all of this and is the making of a holiday for the soul.