Day 16 Wednesday 8th June 2016 – Reiffenhausen to Eisenach 62 miles
The sound of rain falling onto a tent is something I haven’t heard for a long time. When I woke up, it took me around five minutes in my dozy state to realise it was rain. Actually, it was torrential rain. Even the short run to the toilets gave me a good soaking. It was a big change from the last week of clear skies and beautiful sun. Such a change that I didn’t even think about putting my bike under cover or a plastic bag on the saddle to keep it dry.
While taking refuge in the toilets, not wanting to venture back out, a friendly Dutch man started chatting to me. Straight after asking whether I’d slept well, he was keen to tell me about his past, especially when he was a teenager in the Dutch army. Apparently, as he was a Dutch soldier and this campsite was in East Germany, he wasn’t supposed to be in the campsite 40 years ago. However he liked Reiffenhausen campsite so much he sneaked in, and has been coming back here ever since. He was in the army the time of the conflicts in Cuba, being young and keen, they had all been hoping for a third world war, so they could put their practice into action. Looking back now though, he was very pleased it never did!
The clouds were eventually clearing slightly, so with my waterproofs on and plastic bags covering my feet, I left the campsite. Within three miles, the road started to climb and the rain stopped, causing sweat to pour! I was wearing so many layers; shorts, trousers, waterproof trousers, a jacket and many other layers on and it wasn’t even raining anymore!
By lunch, it was back to the usual sun and the roads had all dried up, leaving little evidence of the rain. I seemed to be on a long distance cycle path, so there were frequent places to stop with picnic tables and benches every few miles.
However, as I was finishing, thunder rumbled again. The sky was still sunny with white clouds, but sure enough, darker rain clouds were on their way.
Lighting flashed ahead and thunder grew nearer. All of the locals mowing their lawnes and cutting hedges seemed to have disappeared inside for safety. If there was a youth hostel here I would have headed straight to it! I felt like going inside and putting some dry clothes on but I couldn’t see any accomodation until Eisenach, still around 25 miles away.
Under a railway bridge, I put my feet back inside the supermarket veg bags, over trousers and jacket on, but it seemed I was still going to be soaked.
A struggling three hours later, I finally arrived in Eisenach. The rain had stopped again and people were returning to their daily lives.
Cobbled streets are one of my worst road surfaces to cycle on. Wet cobbled streets uphill are even worse! Every stone makes the bike jump, follwed by a thud from the four panniers. They are especially bad when you cycle up them, then find that the youth hostel is fully booked. Not my day today! So far I’ve been to two German youth hostels and they have both been booked up with school children.
If one night I could have stayed in a hostel, it would have been tonight. I was wet, cold and it looked like another storm could soon be on its way. Seeing as the only other accomodation, without paying for a hotel, was a campsite around five miles out of Eisenach, I got back on my bike and peddled on.
My slightly unhappy mood did not improve when the five miles were all uphill on a busy road, with large lorries speedily overtaking every minute and water spraying onto my face.
Eventually, after a lot of convincing myself to keep going, I came to the campsite. The tent went up in record time before a big bowl of quinoa, enough to feed three people! It was a long and tough day, but not everyday can be easy and sunny!