Accident Waiting To Happen

By Stephen Ewashkiw | September 1, 2013

6401 km so far.

Some things are bound to happen. One of us was bound to get into an accident at sooner or later. Today, after 6,300 km of accident-free riding (apart from self-inflicted or partner-inflicted ones), it finally happened.

But before we get to that, here are some pictures of the animals at last night’s campground.

cute pig on a farm in germany

And people ask why we don’t eat animals. Look at that face!

Easy Like Sunday Morning

We are riding the next two or three days along the official Berlin-Copenhagen route, as we are in no rush, and it’s nice to have a few shorter days riding before we get to the big city.

bike route sign in germany

They have way too many bike routes here. Each square icon represents a different path.

Today we set our sights on an easy 80 km ride, taking us from our lakeside campground…

kids on a lake germany

Watch out kids, you don’t know what’s in the water.

…to a riverside Gasthus that has camping space set aside for kayakers and cyclists. That’s right. We are staying at the German equivalent of a Polish hotel camping spot.

The Swiss couple we met two nights ago told us about camping at marinas and restaurants along waterways. The businesses set aside space for camping, primarily for kayakers, but they also allow cyclists to stay. Just like Polish hotel camping, the difference between this sort of spot and an official campground is we are likely to be the only campers, and to have a bathroom (a proper, indoor, hotel bathroom) all to ourselves.

So here we are, set up at Alter Hofen, a Gasthus/hotel along a canal just north of Zehdenick. We are camped along the water, with families sitting on the nearby patio, out for the last Sunday dinner of the summer. Boat are sailing past, including this one with bikes on top:

Bikes on a boat. Seems like it might be a nice way to travel.

Bikes on a boat. Seems like it might be a nice way to travel.

Another Brick In The Wall

We have been riding through what was, not that long ago, East Germany. This helps explain why it reminds us of Poland so much. Not that long ago there was almost no difference between them, and in the years since Communism fell they have both been going through the struggles of an emerging democracy, after decades of repression. This shows in the architecture, the colours, the services, and the smiles.

Alter Hofen is part of an old brick factory, built in the late 19th century. Many of the buildings are still here, preserved as a museum, and they are all made of bricks.

It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg puzzle…

The canal was used to transport the finished bricks to the sea and out to the rest of Germany and the world. The barges they used in the 20th century are still here, and there is even a small train line here that was used to move the bricks from the factory to the waiting barges.

Crash And Burn

About 10 km before we arrived at the Gasthus, we were passing through one of many small towns, which are very similar to the towns we passed through in nearby Poland. A little rough around the edges, quiet, a little sad looking.

Real-estate find of the day. Fixer upper in Northern Germany.

Real-estate find of the day. Fixer upper in Northern Germany.

Unlike Poland, most of the German countryside we have seen has paved bike paths that are separated from the road. In towns, however, we are often sent back onto the road, almost always cobbled.

Jane’s note: Riding lazily along cobbled streets might sound romantic, but on a fully loaded bike it’s kind of like being in a giant rock tumbler, with the rocks still in there.

In this one town, a lady was walking her bike in front of us. She was talking to a friend living in one of the houses at the side of the road. However, as we were about to pass her, she decided to get on her bike. She hadn’t noticed us behind her, so Jane went past her cautiously.

As Jane passed her on the right, the woman veered suddenly right, barely missing crashing into Jane. Phew. Crash averted.

This flustered her a little though, and as I gave her what I thought was a wide berth, she saw me coming, freaked out some more, and sharply turned her handlebars to the right, riding right into me. I was thrown down onto the road, into the verge, and onto the sidewalk. Awesome.

It could have been much worse. She could have been in a car. I could have broken something. Instead I bruised the head of my femur, scraped my knee, and bruised my ego. I was sure I had left her plenty of space, but from now on I will a) ring my bell in a situation like this and 2) give the rider in front WAY more space.

Jane’s note: Yay! A learning experience that didn’t involve broken bones.

Accidents happen, we all fall down sometimes. As was the case today, we are almost always able to pick ourselves up and keep going. My teacher, Darren Rhodes, often quotes a Japanese proverb:

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Falling down is just a part of bike touring (and life). It’s your choice: sit on the sidewalk and cry, or get up and keep riding along.  

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  1. Comment by Diane

    Diane September 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Great philosophy!

  2. Comment by mauricio

    mauricio September 6, 2013 at 8:27 am


    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen September 13, 2013 at 1:07 am

      It wasn’t that bad, fortunately, but I am still healing from it…

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