1st story: Hamburg to Freiburg (13.06.04 - 22.07.04)

On the road again !
Offially we wanted to start on June 14th but after all the hassles (wedding on June 10th, Hendrik’s thesis , going away party, moving things out of our apartment) we didn’t feel like staying in an empty apartment. So we already left on June 13th at 7.30pm and cycled the 22km from Hamburg to our friends’ house in Harburg. It might sound crazy but when we woke up the next moring and had a delicious breakfirst we knew that we had made the right decision. Right during this first stretch we had the first bike problem : One of Fran’s pedals felt off, but we managed to put it back on and haven’t had any problems ever since.
On the morning of the 14th we doublechecked our equipment and decided to send a few things to Freiburg since there is really no need for e.q .a waterfilter traveling through Germany.

Our final destination in Germany was Freiburg at the border to France. Since we wanted to visit friends and sponsors on our way we sort of ziczaced through Germany. We first went to Hannover to see Helge who owns a bicycle shop there. Helge was able to replace a holding part for the panniers which had broken just the same day. We continued to Wennigsen where we spent time with Dora and her family. From Wennigsen we went to Hameln to continue along Europe’s most popular bike path along the river Weser. This bikepath is indeed very nice. From Hannoverisch Muenden to Kassel we follwed a bikepath along the river Fulda. In Kassel we visited the company Rohloff, here they checked our 14 gear speedhub. They explained this relatively new internal gearbox system to us and we believe strongly that this is the right gearsystem for this trip.

It was raining cats and dogs when we cycled through the Sauerland, a middle mountain range. Now we honestly believe that it is possible to go skiing there. We passed Hamm and went up north to Muenster to see friends there.Alittle bit further down south in Dorsten we stayed at our friends’ house. There we replaced our old tires and started with fresh ones sponsored by Schwalbe. The next stops were Neviges and Meerbusch. From Meerbusch on we followed the river Rhine to Wiesbaden. This part of the trip we knew from a previous trip in 2001. In Wiesbaden we turned east again to head to Kriftel just before Frankfurt. Here we visited the company HP Velotechnik, the inventor of our bikes. They checked our bikes and also replaced some parts. They also put in our Magura disc brakes, which were sponsored by Magura. Now we were all set.

Shortly after Frankurt in Darmstadt we visited Susanne who cooked a wonderful african meal for us to give us the right feeling for our trip. Susanne joined us for a few days and together we went to Heidelberg and followed the river Neckar up to Ludwigshafen. Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad, we had a lot of rain. Susanne took the train back home and we went up to the Schwaebische Alp up to 800m. There we visited the company Magura. They checked our brakes and told us how to repair everyyhing in case we have problems. In the meantime we have tested our Louise discbrakes quite a bite and are very confident.

We went back to the Neckar and passed through Tuebingen. Here we met the first long distance cyclists, a family from the USA : The father was riding together with the youngest son on a tandem, the mother and older son on a single bike each. Since we have been biking in the States as well we had quite a chat about advantages and disadvantages of Europeen and American campgrounds.
On the next campground Fran got  recognised  by a family from Plauen, who had read the story in the Four Seasons Magazin. There was a big hello and the next day we biked a few kilometers with the couple and their four kids.
Finally the weather got better, but of course it was pretty humid due to the rain in the last days. Now we had to go across the Black Forest. Obviously our map was not quite correct. Going up was extremly steep (not shown on our map) and going down the road was made out off copplestones.

After ziczacing through Germnay, we reached Freiburg on July 18th-after 1715km. Here we visited Peter and Gaby, who we had met in Usbekistan in 1993 on our bike trip around the world. Here we try to rest, check our equipment and get ready for France.

Our bikes are doing fine, up to now we have had only 2 punctures.
We have also replaced our tent since we were not quite satisfied with the first one.

We are both healthy despite the cold weather. Hendrik is doing fine with his diabetis and has been able to reduce the amount of insulin to only 50%.

>> 2nd story: Freiburg to Biarritz