Before setting off i spent about a year avidly searching the equipment pages of other peoples blogs to find out what they chose to pack. It got a little ridiculous. I compared Tom's bike blog to Al Humphrey's to Crazy guy on a bike and everything inbetween. I wanted to know how many pairs of socks, what make of water bottle, which colour shorts would make me peddal faster...When it comes to packing its as simple as one question - when you're faced with a 20degree hill made of gravel in forest in Germany will you wish you hadn't brought (insert item here). What i really needed to know was what would make the difference between enjoying and completing the trip or utter misery. So here's my list of things I'm happy fo push up a mountain based on my love of lists, hikes, this trip and field trips in South Sudan:
1) A down coat - the first two weeks after i got my coat my vocab was essentially reduced to I-love-this-coat-I'm-literally-so-warm-right-now. It' warm, lightweight and packs down small. I got mine from Alpkit and a down sleeping bag from Rab and wouldn't consider going anywhere without them.
2) Padded shorts - see post about Brookes saddle.
3) Gloves - cycling isintense and puts strain on your knees and thighs but also wrists and palms as a lot of your weight is balanced there. A pair of gloves will help pad the area and ease the pressure.
4) A flannel - Handy when you've just "slept" through a gale just below arctic circle in a tent which collapsed around 3am and its freezing outside and you're feeling lazy.
5) Spotify premium (other music sites probably exist too, or not, who knows) - I don't know about you but I get bored of my music about every three months and theres noo way I'm getting up that hill or onto another tiny UN plane without some music to keep me going.
The Rhine route has been beautiful and a perfect introduction to Germany but tomorrow we are heading away from the river towards Nuremberg. Judging from all the other times we have ventured away from the river I expect lots of up hill cycling that never go down again.
It has been an eventful few days, we had a lovely evening with Marcus and Elyane in Bad Krushnach breathing in the lovely healthly air. They gave us lots of tips on where to go over the next couple of days, beautiful towns to visit and spaghetti icecream to try. However unfortunately we didn't make any of that as a crazy cyclist knocked right into me and I ended up flat out in a crop field with a bent back wheel. So while my bike was in the shop we had a couple of days in Mannheim. It was a shame we didn't make it to Spyer and Karlsruch but it was nice to relax in the sun and one campsite even had a lake to swim in (or if you are me, walk in up to your knees and decide it's too cold).
Once Charlie the bike was all fixed again we got a train back the way we came to Wallmerod. We had planned to spend a few days with our cousins and our mum, dad and gran also flew out to see us which was wonderful:) The original plan was to see them on route as we passed Wallmerod but we had cycled a lot faster than we expected and actually passed by nearly 2 weeks earlier than planned! So we kept cycling and got a train from Mannheim to Wallmerod. We will be getting the train back to Mannheim to pick up where we were tomorrow.
I'm so grateful to be able to see my family again and will now work on pursuading them to come for another visit in afew months!!
I've had a lovely few days relaxing, eating well, exploring Koblenz and Limburg and acting like real tourists instead of sweaty cyclists. Thank you so much Hilary and all the family for having us and for all of your help, everyone has been so supportive, it's been lovely seeing you all:)