Day 6: Hamburg to Fehmarn

  • Distance: 158km 🙂 — Less than planned but enough
  • Climbing: 948m ☹️ — This really felt like a hilly day.  Hard work
  • Undercarriage: 🙂 — Everything…”down there”…seemed to be fine.
  • Route: 😕 — Quite tricky in places and a lot of rolling countryside.
  • Body: 😔 - Still no improvement in the fingers and a new appearance from my right ankle which is ominously aching at times.
  • Bike: 😔 — I lost my chain lube (of which more below).


Much to my surprise, it wasn’t raining when I woke up in Hamburg and I felt good.  Raring to go.  I packed up quickly, pulled on my beautifully clean and sweet smelling cycle gear, ate some breakfast and then unpacked in the lobby again when I realised that I couldn’t find my chain lube.  Due to some screw up in the Hotel’s booking system I had to change rooms from the first night to the second night and in the confusion, I must have left the chain lube in the first room.  A search of the hotel didn’t turn up anything but took a lot of time and so I left a lot later than expected.

Attentive readers may have realised that it’s been quite wet in the past few days and a lot of water has the tendency to wash all the oil (or “lube” as it is known in cycling circles) from the chain, cassette, jockey wheels, pedals etc etc.  Therefore you need to lube the chain every day.  Well, you do if you have lube.  I had a choice, I could wait until 10am when the first hipster bike shop owners opened their shops or just put up with the squeaking.  I put up with the squeaking.

Getting out of a big city is painful.  Squeak squeak.  It’s basically 10km of stuff like this. Squeak squeak.

Lots and lots of junctions

The bike paths were good but every couple of hundred metres there was a junction with confusing traffic lights and cars coming from all angles.  Squeak squeak.  Your average speed is incredibly low and as the time passes — but the distance doesn’t — the end of the day recedes into the distance. 

After about an hour, I’d reached the equivalent of Walthamstow.  Squeak squeak squeak.  There was a short cloud burst but I was proudly wearing my new rain coat and so my upper body stayed quite dry.  My shorts didn’t stay dry.  Squeak squeak squeak.  It was then that I found out why my shorts and top smelled so fragrant.  I hadn’t set the rinse cycle on the washing machine and so my kit was basically impregnated with washing powder.  As I squeaked along, my shorts started to foam at the crotch.  I was looking for an open bike shop to buy some oil but there’s no way you wants to stop in the equivalent of Walthamstow with a foamy crotch.  Squeak squeak squeak squeak.

Another cloud burst of rain cleared off the worst of the foam and after 30km I squeaked loudly into Bargteheide.  I bought a coffee from a lovely lady in a bakery and asked in my google-translate-powered German about the possibility of a bike shop in Bargteheide.  It turned out that there was one but as far as google translate could work out, the man that ran it was an ugly lazy man who probably wouldn’t be there.

Please be open

The door was locked and I had visions of squeaking for another 100km and destroying my bike but looking round the back, I found an ugly, lazy and, it turned out, gigantic man having a quiet smoke.  A little bit of sign language and a demonstration of how the bike was squeaking got me a small tube of general purpose oil for €4.90.  I would have happily paid 10x that to be honest.

Happiness is lube

After solving the squeak problem, everything got back into the rhythm.  My route took me through lots of small villages, each with a variable take on what constituted good cycling infrastructure.  Some with wide well-signposted cycle-boulevards, others with a narrow potholed pavement.  Lübeck — which is pretty large — came and went.

The route really started “rolling”.  No stupid insanely steep cols but just endless rolling countryside.  I stopped for lunch in a garage and had a traditional German delicacy.

Less said about this the better

Apart the two cloud bursts on the way out of Hamburg, the weather had been pretty kind and, given my foamy crotch, the second cleansing cloud burst was very kind.  Obviously I was still wearing my rain jacket because it was cool and expensive but it was increasingly difficult to carry this off as it got warmer.

As I crested a motorway bridge, I saw a really interesting bit of electrification infrastructure.  Feel free to skip this section if this sort of thing doesn’t interest you.

Wow

This is hard to see but they are overhead power lines (like on a railway line) but on the inside lane of a motorway.  I assume they’re used for buses but you could imagine this type of solution being ideal for electrifying freight transport.  It’s really hard to get enough range into a long haul truck with batteries.  So the truck has some batteries for the “final mile” (or more likely the final 30 miles) but for long distances it takes power from the overhead lines which powers it and recharges the batteries.  Yes yes yes, putting in the infrastructure and coordinating standards would be hard — maybe impossible — but an interesting idea nonetheless.

This looks ominous

Apple weather isn’t wrong

Out of nowhere, a full-on thunder and lightning storm came rolling over the horizon and absolutely soaked every part of me not covered by the cool and expensive jacket.  I was reduced to cowering in (yet another) bus shelter until it passed.  But once it finally passed, everything got a lot easier.

This part of Germany is rural — often, and in this case correctly, a synonym for “smells of dung” — and so it is lots of small villages with little thatched cottages and it feels a lot like Norfolk to be honest.

Not easy to be a sexy fireman in this fire truck.

After a lot of rolling hills, there was a long descent into a classic seaside town and there was my first view of the Baltic.

This resort is set up for wind and rain

Crazy golf is universal in rainy seaside resorts.

Everyone appeared to be in a pretty good mood given they were on a seaside holiday in the rain.  My bike weaved in and out of families making the best of their holiday and probably silently wishing they were in the Med. 

I was hoping to follow the shore but, of course, the route curved back up into the rolling countryside and I still had about 50km to go.  On any day, the last 50km are always the hardest and today was no exception.  Lots of punchy climbs and the wind started to veer (or is it back) round and wasn’t quite as encouragingly behind me as it had been for the rest of the day.  

My destination Fehmarn is on an island which is the last bit of Germany before Denmark.  I had to cross a bridge to get there which was…challenging.

Looks graceful and easy…

…actually a 30cm wide bike path and traffic everywhere

And then…it was over.  I arrived at my hotel.  As many of you know, I’m not hugely cost sensitive so I’d booked the most expensive hotel in Fehmarn.  It might have been a bit of a clue that it was €140 for a night.  

The hotel is very funky.  The owner is a strange woman with a singsong voice who sits (squats?) in a bullet proof plexiglass box.  She was very keen that I pay for the room tonight and really wasn’t keen on paying with a card.  There is a sort of brooding and scary handiman guy who took my bike away and indicated with sign language that it would be safe — although maybe the sign language meant “I’m going to stick this in the furnace”.  Who knows?  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

I asked for the WiFi password but that took about 15 minutes to get since the singsong woman had to get the printer to work and then printed out a WiFi password of ludicrous complexity.  If you’re ever in Fehmarn and want to steal some of that sweet sweet WiFi bandwidth from the Hotel Hasselbarth, here’s the password 1AihW1Svct52q7hHTBqi <sigh>.

I’d booked a room for one adult and so the hotel had thoughtfully removed the other duvet from the room in case I was thinking of sneaking my secret family in the back door later.

You booked for one person and that’s what you’re getting.  Note tiny sweet on the duvet…

Although the hotel gets a plus for having a thermonuclear towel rail, it does loose some marks for supplying the smallest bottle of shower gel I’ve ever seen.

A euro and a bottle of chain lube for scale.

I had to go to the local equivalent of Boots to buy a bar of soap because the singsong lady wanted to charge me 5 euros for more soap.  

Fehmarn feels exactly like a Norfolk or Northumberland seaside resort.  It’s a bit down at heel, the patrons are a bit down at heel, there’s a few fancy boutiques set up by people who wanted to move here to get away from it all which are going to close down in a year or so.  All the visitors are grimly enjoying themselves eating mediocre food under umbrellas as it continues to rain.

I am actually enjoying myself a lot while I eat mediocre food under an umbrella.  Today was a good day all in all.  The mixed weather is now something I can cope with.  Legs feel good and, now I’m out of the endless plains of Germany, there’s a lot more to see and enjoy.

Tomorrow I get up early, negotiate breakfast with singsong lady and then head to the ferry which is about 8km from here.  I have no ticket and absolutely no idea how to get on the ferry with my bike but I’m going to assume I can work it out.  Then it’s my first day in Denmark.  Country four.  Not bad.

Comments

  1. Ewan, it’s Luke. Just wanted to say I have very little interest in cycling but these blogs are thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Good luck!

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