Day01: Dalldorf to Hamburg, Germany: A cold day with bad side/head winds make my first day a hard one

After a nice visit with my German son-in-law's family, I started my tour by riding to Harbug - at the southern end of Hamburg - to visit with good friends. I thought it would be an easy ride of a bit over 100 km.

Looking back at Dalldorf

Looking away from Dalldorf

Yesterday, in Dalldorf, it rained over an inch - the first real rain in a month - as a strong storm blew in from the North Sea. Today, it only sprinkled on me a few times, but it was chilly - high in the low 50s - and there was strong wind out of the east/northeast. Harburg is north east of Dalldorf. I rode hard for almost eight hours - 9:15 to 5:45 with about an hour off the bike - to cover those 100 km.

Nice riding through prosperous rural Germany

The first half of my ride, from Dalldorf through Bad Bevensen, was on small roads without bike paths or shoulders. Some of those roads had little traffic but others were fairly busy with car and truck traffic. This was not a problem since German drivers are well trained and used to dealing with bicycles. The weather wasn't great, but the scenery was nice in this, very rural, part of Germany.

Wind turbines and irrigation spray showing the strong wind

Pretty contryside along a small roads

The canal heading north to the Elb

Shortly before I got to Bad Bevensen, I crossed a navigable canal that goes north to the Elb river. I considered riding it, but some of the bike path along it is not paved and might have been messy to ride after yesterdays heavy rain. It would have kept me out of the wind until I got to the Elbe Radweg, and that made it very tempting, but it continued on through Bad Bevensen. I was using a gps and a compass for navigation. When I first tried to use the gps, it would display its first splash screen and then quit. That worried me since I will really need the gps when I get to Ukraine! Fortunately, its problem turned out to be that the battery was fully discharged. I have an external battery for it, so I was able to get it working before I got to Roche, the first town on my route big enough for a gps to be helpful. This was my first experience using Garmin's new - 2012 - European maps. The gps worked well for me, except once in Bad Beverenson where it routed me into the parking area for the baths and I couldn't find the road that the gps said I should continue on.

Entering Bad Bevensen

On the other side of Bad Bevensen, I stopped at a bench on a bike parth to snack from the supplies I brought from Dallborf. I was well supplied with bread, cheese, bananas, and coffee by my daughter's mother-in-law and I enjoyed sitting, out of the wind, and listening to trains go by on the nearby track. my route roughly followed the, major, train tracks that I had been on on my way to Uelsen from Prague. It is much ore peaceful to rest near German train tracks than US train tracks since the trains here are electric and don't use horns at intersections. The main noise they create is a loud wooshing sounds as they speed by. I don't think I heard any of the fast trains - 150 mph - that also use those tracks, but I suspect their woosh is even louder. On my way to Uelsen, on slower trains, I did hear the fast trains as they passed up. There were two times when the trains I was on pulled over onto side tracks to let the fast trains pass. The wind blasts rocked the train cars I was sitting in.

After Bad Bevensen, I headed for B4, a major highway with a good bike path.I got on B4 near Bienenbuettel. I used B4 road to get to Luneberg, the biggest city on my route today. Because of the wind (?), there were few bicyclists out today and I was the only one I saw, out side of cities, who was silly enough to be heading into the wind ;-{. The best riding was when there were trees blocking the wind and it was a side wind. Much of B4 was good riding. I think that, 16 km long, section was the only time today when I was able to ride much over 12 kph (about 8 mph).

On B4 heading north to Luneburg

It was a long and bumpy ride through Luneburg and, after 4 hours of grinding into the wind, my legs were beginning to threaten cramping. I was tempted to head over to the train station where I could get a train to Harbug for about ten Euro. Intead, I routed northwest, into the wind on U90. As I was leaving Luneberg, and its rough bike paths, I stopped for a quick lunch at McDs.

North of Luneburg heading north west towards Hamburg

My ride northwest to Harburg was hard. The wind was still a problem, but less so than it had been in the morning. Now my tired legs were almost, but not quite, cramping. The land was hillier and the routing more difficult as I rode into the much more populated area south of Hamburg. I used the gps to route through the area south east of Harburg.

In Harburg, I got caught in construction and was forced to make my way across a busy street in a bad place. That was the only time today that I got beeped at by a driver.

Now I will head down the Elb Radweg and, hopefully, have an easy, and mostly rain free, ride to Berlin. I will get there on Friday for a visit with my daughter's sister-in-law who lives there.