A combination of a litre of HofBrauHaus Dunkle and cycling 140k has meant I've had the best sleep so far and wake ready to go at 6:30. It's light outside and I'm within spitting distance of not one but two paths through the forest. Packing takes no time and just as I push the bike on to the track a guy walking his dog whilst cycling rides pass. I nod and move on. Ten minutes later I'm lost in the forest going in the wrong direction to my next town and I bump into the man again. A common theme I'm finding. We have a chat, the golden retriever is very playful and he guides me out the woods. On the way to the road we meet another man cycling with a black Labrador. Sorry GR fans black lab wins every time I'm afraid, but they're all lovely. Dogs play, men chat, I go. Back past my camp spot and out the way I came in. Why I can't just do this all the time I will never know. I'm always hell bent on finding a new way out and it never works. I pick up the cycle path to Essenburg and head for Haag, not on my list but one in the book I've missed. It's en-route to Muhldorf so no probs. As usual excellent path, crap signs. I put my helmet on and jump on the dual carriageway. It's a bit drizzly and cold. I come across the usual fast food hotspot and manage to get 2 hours out of them. Ladies phone number trick comes to mind and the love is spread. A quick look at google maps and I'm still just about on target because of the good distance yesterday. Although my goal is to do 100km every day, just because I do that doesnt mean I'm 100km nearer. Cycle paths and forests see to that. I'm feeling chipper and stick to the roads to Haag and see my first castle for Germany, surprisingly late. As I remark to the lady in Netto about the weather the drizzle increases. Off I go coat on hat on helmet on trousers on waterproof socks on sandals on. Call me naïve but when I planned this I had no idea it might get a bit cold. I've still got the suntan lotion in my handlebar bag, ready at a moments notice. I'm hoping as I pass the Alps which I can see off in the distance that it might warm up after that. The Alps are awesome even from this distance. I block out the thought of having to cycle them as my route stays North. A chill goes down my back and I shiver for about 5 minutes in the drizzle. Alpen nightmares gone, I slide off towards Muhldorf. Apologies eagle eyed readers and especially those of the country I'm writing about. I'm writing quickly on the wheel/hoof and spellings some times go a bit Lady Gaga so bear with me. Just imagine that it's me trying to pronounce the place name and it all works out correct, undecipherable. Gonzo yeah!
I reach Muhldorf and have a look around the wide street of the main part of town after passing through its ancient city entrance. On my travels over the last few days I've notice the entrance to small villages having what can only be described as a massive pole with small flags hanging from both sides. A bit like a thin five storey christmas tree with various pennants denoting what I believe the village does. Various forms of agriculture, beer, bread, nature, that sort of thing. They are a lovely site. And put the now broken “Apsley” sign to shame. (sign now fixed. Ed.) If there is one thing I've noticed out in the southern parts I have been traversing it is a great sense of pride of where people live. They are proud to be associated with what they do and where they come from. Of course this is noticed at home as well when you are in the country, but it really hits home here. And rightly so, I very rarely see any litter, the roads are good the villages pretty, the people charming and the attention to detail with shops and houses is amazing. All brilliant except for one thing Germany... Kerbs. You have the most amazing system of cycle paths and perhaps for locals the signposts suffice. I've said enough about those for continent crossing Gonzo Historians, but kerbs godammit. Cycle paths have right of way and cars have to stop when the path crosses the road and this means the kerb is lowered. So why the hell is it only lowered to about three inches above the ground. AHHHHHHHHHH! It drives me crazy. Is it because you make wheels and so the constant battering your bicycles get just improves your economy??? From my own experience and from others' hearsay I had expected Bulgaria to prove the biggest problem road surface wise. But German cycle paths will be hard to beat. On a 2km trek through a town you can expect to have at least 100 or so brain clattering kerbstones to have to bump up. Now I used to race BMXs in my younger days and I know how to lift the front wheel off the ground but still sometimes it can't be done. Add the luggage on the front of my bike and a cycle path through a town is a bloody nightmare. Which brings me onto another thing. In England the kerbs are lowered to the road so be it on a bicycle or pushing a buggy you get a smooth slope on to and off the road. But what about old peoples electric mobility scooters? This is the reason why the kerbs are bad I think. There are none. Instead I see a lot of older people pushing their “chariots” as Maddy's granny Myrtle likes to call them. They have four wheels and handlebars and a brake, a little bit like a shopping trolley without the basket. I've seen so many of these and no scooters. Perhaps the ethos is the chariots keep you fitter. I don't know, perhaps it's the health system? My host family were telling me that to have one tooth done at the dentist costs 800 euros. Whatever you have done, that's a few beers and no mistake.
I've done 80km and duck into the McD to dry off and send out some www.warmshowers.org requests along my route. Just as I'm leaving for Altotting I get a reply back from a host in this area saying that they are out for the night but I can camp in their backyard if I want. I'm unable to reply as my wifi has just run out. I set off in this direction anyway and see what happens. As I leave Muhldorf the fog and chill descend. It's eerie, its like an evening in November in England. It gives me the feel of going out to fireworks and bonfire night. The darker it gets the more I can't see. I need to find a camp but can't read the signposts and can't see further than the kerb. I try in vain to plough into some trees getting pushed back by brambles each time. This is a new one for me. Trying to find camp in the fog in the dark. I find a small collection of fir trees and try again, I keep along the border of brambles and the long grass is soaking through my trousers and socks. I eventually kind of fall into a vague opening, push the bike a bit across lots of sharp brambles and find a square of flat unbrambled ground the size of a pillow. The battery on my head torch dies at this precise moment. I put the tent up and when I look inside half of the floor is raised about 10 inches off the ground, I try to gently push it down but it's an actual tree. I squeeze the mattress to the side that has space and sleep at a most ridiculous angle and as usual in these situations have a great sleep.