Day 48: Saturday 20th June
Donauworth – Menning (105km)
Meet Taiwanese cycle tourers at the camp and shared coffee with them in the morning. They had individual cup coffee filters from Taiwan – genius. It was good to catch up with other cyclists and find out about places they had ridden. The couple had done NZ and also the island of Hokkaido in Japan. They thought Japan was an excellent place for cycle touring, with campsites and food being better quality and more reasonably priced than Europe. The younger Taiwanese guy (who was riding alone) is the only person we have met travelling more than ourselves. He had started in Paris, rode through all the mountain passes in Switzerland and then up the Donau through Austria.
A txt message confirmed we would meet our friends Sean and Adrienne in Ingolstadt for lunch so we raced off. We blitzed a hilly section passed lederhosen clad locals to the town of Neuburg. Neuburg had an impressive schloss (castle) but time was short so after admiring the courtyard we rode on. The Grunau hunting palace (Germanys answer to Chambord) was impressive but looked unloved in recent years.
We arrived at Ingolstadt on time and headed to the local campsite to check in. The municipal campsite was more of a trailer-park (in the American sense) so we abandoned that idea and headed to the Bahnhof to meet our friends from Munich. The afternoon was spend listening to um-pah music, and enjoying food and drink on the market square.
After an evening stroll through the streets of Ingolstadt we headed to Vohburg 20km down the river. The light was fading so we cranked up the pace. We missed a badly signposted crossing of the river and ended up on a “No Bikes” highway for much of the way. Used the dynamo headlamps for the first time, which was like riding with the brakes on. Susan gave up on hers and I rode behind. At 30km/hr. she was lit up like a spotlight. The free Vohburg camping looked seriously dodgy so we rode up to Menning where at 10:15pm we couldn’t rouse the owner. Exhaustion had set in so we wandered past fireflies in the darkness to camp in the empty backyard anyway.
Day 49: Sunday 21 June
Menning – Kapfelberg (58km)
Wea woke early but plans of an early start werethwarted by a punture. A local generosily produced a proper racing bike pump saving us a lot of work with the mini-pump.
At Neustadt we found the only open bakery for miles (being a Sunday). We rode through farmland to Weltenburg abbey with its impressive church interior (Sean had enlightened us on Baroque designs by the famous Asam brothers).
The next stretch of river surrounded by cliff is often conquered by boat. We, being purists, ended up on a goat track over the hill. Skidding down the other side we arrived at McDonalds, which is about the only place in Germany that sells meat that looks like meat instead of dog-roll. The old town of Kelhiem was nice but a bit samey so we didn’t linger.
Highlights of the afternoon were the marble, life sized replicas of the Pantheon and Parthenon. These monsters, apparently created by the same Ludwig who created the fairy-tale masterpiece of Neuschwanstein, look impressive but totally out of place in the forest clad Bavarian hills.
We camped at a nice spot by the marina at Kapfelberg. It was the first spot on the river which has been big enough for the locals to be out on jet-skis. We spent until sundown enjoying beer, schnitzel and sausages at a riverside diner.
Day 50: Monday 22 June
Kapfelberg – Straubing (82km)
We started the morning with a true Bavarian breakfast – Weiss wurst, salami, cheese, ham, pretzel, buns, butter and cherry jam. We rode to Regensburg with its impressive old sprawling old town and bridge. We found some Wi-Fi and updated ourselves on emails.
The afternoon was spiked with intermittent thunderstorms, but at least it was warmer than previous days. We felt exhausted arriving in Straubing, and even though it wasn’t a particularly long day fatigue set in early. We have been eating well but put exhaustion down to lack of reserves left on our bodies.
Day 51: Tuesday 23 June
Rain through the night and woke to persistent drizzle. The rest of the day was spent trying to stay out of the rain so ended up holing up in McDonalds, visiting a cathedral (Asam brothers again) which paled in comparison to Weltenburg abbey, and visiting a museum with a Roman horde of treasures that had been discovered locally. The Roman stuff was amazing, this being one of the main outposts on the Donau at the frontier of the ancient empire.
Day 52: Wednesday 24th June
Straubing to Pyrawag (122km)
Well-rested we set off in good spirits. The rain caught up with us after a couple of hours. Fortunately the wind was following us so riding was easy. At Deggendorf we parked up outside a cafe and enjoyed filled rolls and bircher muesli for lunch. Gravel trails in the afternoon and continued drizzle made for slow riding.
Passau was starting to flood when we arrived. The German town is at the junction of the Inn river, the Donau, and another smaller river. Apparently the sight of the blue river from the Inn joining the Donau are normally impressive, the scene that greeted us was a swirling sea of brown. People were scurrying around boarding up shops and laying sandbags to hold back the rising water. The cycle trails around the old town were mostly flooded. Bedraggled, we arrived at the local campground/canoe club. Unfortunately a school group had beaten us to it. The place was overrun with kids singing Bruce Springsteen. It was the first time we had seen school kids in Germany who were not throwing rocks at waterfowl but the singing was terrible so we opted for more riding in the rain.
Just east of Passau we passed a sign confirming we had entered Austria. The campsite in Pyrawang was nice and the hot showers greatly appreciated. We made curry-wurst with konodle for dinner and chatted with a German chap who was taking an old German skiff down the river to the Black Sea. Mark had been keen in some canoe touring after the bike trip so extracted as much information as possible. They were managing about 50km/day on the river but portaging the boat over locks sounded pretty arduous.