Every journey south from here begins with a ride downhill and ends with a long slog back up. This is a fact of life, like death, taxes; and Mercedes drivers seeing pavements* as mere extensions of the road. On this occasion it was early morning and I wasn’t quite awake so I chickened out of the 500 metre hope-the-brakes-work-at-the-bottom race down the main road (11%) and the Scary Hill of Doom (So steep a gradient sign would frighten people). Instead I went via the indirect but slightly less precipitous route through the woods,

I was riding across several valleys, so I developed a ‘clothing strategy’. It worked (or rather didn’t) as follows:

Climb halfway up hill and decide I have too many layers. Get off bike; take off wind proof jacket. Realise bike is rolling down hill. Catch handlebar and stand precariously with one hand gripping handlebars while trying to extricate other arm from jacket. Try and regain control of bike. Fail. Using the one free hand, haul bike so it is at an angle to the hill. Remove jacket, shove same in Xtracycle. Get back on bike. Realise it is in high gear, pedal to summit slowly; wait for heart rate to decrease. Ride down hill for 100 metres. Stop, put jacket on. Reach bottom of  cold valley, start climbing, repeat…

It was early on a Saturday morning, that’s my excuse anyway.

Breakfast. Normally there’s a view from here to Stuttgart (about 15km away) but the clouds were exceptionally low so you’ll just have to believe me.

Final summit (click on the picture to enlarge)

 

Approaching village on ‘cycle way’**

 

Just as it’s a disaster for this hippy car-free cyclist to give motorists directions, it’s equally foolish for me to take directions from motorists. I learned this the hard way in Metzingen, where I wanted to go and see  the ‘Seven Celts’ which are allegedly based on buildings put up by the original Celtic inhabitants of the town. Helpful people directed me onto a busy road where I ended up traveling three times as far as I needed to, although it did give me a great opportunity to practice vehicular cycling with irate taxi drivers.

After a further magical mystery tour of Bempflingen, due to their interesting ideas on cycle signage*** I arrived in Bad Urach late via several back roads, a builders yard, and the Magura Factory, jumped off the bike, took this panorama of the town centre, jumped on again, and set off for home.

 

The obligatory ‘Where I went on my holidays’ shot leaving Bad Urach. That’s a castle on top of that hill. Honest.

 

‘Radweg’ (‘cycle way’): creative signage on the way home, put up by a farmer who I suspect was fed up with confused cyclists knocking his door and asking the way to Reutlingen.

 

‘Where I went on my holidays’ again: this time in Reutlingen. When you live amongst towns like this, it’s easy to take them for granted. So I deliberately took photos.

 

Edge of village, 30 minutes late; 100km on bike computer; legs like jelly; Brooks saddle broken in; happy cyclist.

 

 

 

* Sidewalks, if you’re American.

** Taken while pulling wind proof on. Or off.

*** Or, it occurs to me, my inability to interact with signs, as I seem to have been struggling to interact with my own clothing. I’ll get back to you on this one.

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