After nine months of laying low avoiding Covid, the day came to start our epic trek across Germany, from Ingolstadt to the Baltic Sea island Rügen. Our first stop is the village of Greding. We planned stages with not too many kilometers during our trip since this is our holiday and not a bikepacking race. Today’s distance is about 45km from home. The weather is gorgeous, and we have high spirits.
Our bikes are in the best condition they can be, tricked out and tuned to perfection. Christine has a new seat, so hopefully, it works well for her. She had some fitting problems and needed a saddle with a longer rail so it could be set forward a few more millimeters. My bike is completely silent, and with the fat 47 WTB Horizon tires, I get almost no rolling noise on smooth pavement. This makes me very happy.
The route from home takes us north through Ingolstadt center, through Gaimersheim, and up Reisberg, a 90m hill we know very well. At the top is where we feel the city stops and the far away adventure begins, despite being only 14 km from our house. The descent is lovely and sends us towards Gundoling and the Altmühl river.
Riding along the river is a perfect way to end our first day since we are totally out of shape for 21 days of riding. Flat trails and with a few rolling bumps were excellent. The Arnsberg castle dominates the view from on high. Along the top of the hill, there is a beautiful hiking trail in the forest and fields. The castle is accessible and has a small Biergarten overlooking the valley that we rode through.
Strangely, we have never ridden this particular part of the Altmühl river in all our local rides. We stopped at a Lidl to fuel up with a one-star lunch break. I was so busy and focused on getting going I forgot to eat before we left the house. Bonking on day one is bad form.
Greding welcomes us uphill through a medieval city gate and cobblestone streets. It’s a fine entrance to the wide-open Marktplatz and main street. A few restaurants and ice cream cafes line the sidewalks. Our hotel is towards the end of the center area and slightly set back from the road, offering a spacious area for outdoor seating. Unfortunately, the Hotel Landgasthof Schuster looks closed and lifeless, and we wondered what was happening. The darkened, musty lobby was deserted, but after we called out and rang the bell, the owner appeared. Obviously, the bike touring and hiking crowds haven’t returned after the latest lockdown and Covid restrictions. (Both Christine and I are fully vaccinated, so it is possible to travel throughout Germany.) The room was comfy, with huge windows overlooking the main street. The hotel only has breakfast service, so we ventured out for dinner.
I could imagine the evening social life in a village-like Greding being quite lively. But most places are closed, even the take-out services. Our first stop was a German restaurant that had a menu straight out of 1650. Lots of wild meat and nothing remotely savory or appealing. After one drink, we made a beeline to the only other restaurant in town, which we could see was quickly filling. After stuffing ourselves with hummus and falafel plates, we had a short walk then crashed in bed.
Day one was in the books, and the nearly 400m of climbing and heat took its toll on our soft, under-trained muscles. Tomorrow we head to Nürnberg to see some friends and hopefully watch Germany win their first Euro 2020 game.