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Last time I returned to Freiburg from visiting the family I hopped off the train at a place called Lahr and rode the last 30km on a warm Sunday afternoon. This doesn’t feature in a blog entry because I didn’t have a camera and there are limits to how much of my prose you can handle without pictures to break it up occasionally. However that ride showed that this was a possible strategy and would undoubtedly be even faster if I didn’t take a wrong turning leading to a 10 kilometre diversion around the German countryside.

Looking at a map, I reasoned that the next time I could get off at Offenburg, a mere 20k north of where I’d de-trained last time, giving a bit more of a ride before arriving in my village.

On the other hand, 50k isn’t a quick and easy ride, and I did have work the next day.

Much fretting ensued, ended by German Railways (who were, it has to be said, having a bad day generally) announcing that their shiny new train had thrown a sulk and would be staying in Offenburg.

Problem solved, I got on the bike and followed signs into the town, which it turns out has a very pretty centre including revolving bronze cartoon birds.

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I’m not sure why either.

I’m not going to go exaggerating the difficulty of riding this trip. Okay it’s about 50k, but that’s almost 50 thoroughly flat kilometres on nice smooth cycleways, signposted most of the way.

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Yeah, I’m spoiled.

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Well, until I came to a village, when the cycleway vanished and I had to dodge traffic, but you can’t have everything.

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The sun was slowly heading for the horizon so I was pushing it as much as a moderately unfit middle aged bloke can, and the ride settled into a rhythm of long straight cycleway, village, mad dash through traffic, back to cycleway. In my concern to keep time I ignored many signs pointing to marketplaces, baroque churches and historic gates, so I’ll have to visit those on another ride. This time it was about the road, stretching off into the distance, and the setting sun.

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And later on the list became a bit longer with the addition of “aching legs”. It was quite a relief to reach villages which are now becoming familiar and not have to stop and look at the map any more, and even more when the church spire for the Village Across The River came into view and I only had to haul my sorry self up and over the railway line and the river, wiggle through the old town, check the post, and crunch over the gravel to my front door.

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I’d managed 50k in about 2 ½ hours, which is about an average speed of 20km/h. Any smugness about this was thoroughly destroyed by the complaints from my lower limbs the next morning…