The DamLin Dash

15 08 2012

The Damlin Dash as it shall forever be known by the gallant three contestants was a awesome, exilerating, tiring, greedy, fun bike ride which almost got the better of us, but not quite.

From Amsterdam we rode to a ‘Polecamping’ site, which are hidden sites where you can camp for free as long as you leave no trace and there aren’t more than 3 people in a group. After an hour of searching the forest (they are hidden) we found the site. From the company we deduced only ‘strange’ people used them, from this we also deduced we maybe strange. We were visited by two beasts during that night. The first a huge in-obedient rottweiler that one of the strangers had taken camping- harmless. The second a cute little field mouse which ate through our panniers, our food and devastated the dive bag containing the food- harmful. Lesson learnt, we’re going to buy a cat.

If you believe in karma you will know who we came across on our first road after the forest…

We picked up our map and a new bag in Antwerp and headed over the border in Germany where Jake unwittingly revealed he had studied German extensively from the age of 11 all the way until he was 14. He would from this point be known as ‘The Translator’ or just plain ‘Valter’. With these canny skills we would surely be fine.

The R1 is a wonderful route, it avoids main roads and unattractive towns, instead zig zagging East through National Parks, pretty villages and farmers fields all the while passing impressive old buildings, picturesque lakes and panoramic views. It is also and almost flat route, but not quite, as our aching legs are a testament to.

We met many other cycle tourers on the same route, always doing our best to look like we weren’t trying but in fact trying very hard to overtake them, a stealth race you could say. Often they would stay at the same campsite too as there can be only one or two every 100km. Here everyone could eye up each others kit from a safe distance and measure camping competencies. We were always the last to arrive, 7 being the norm and 9:30 the latest, and we often arose to find flat grass patches where once the tourers had been.

A typical day on the Damlin Dash involved coffee and cereal at 09:00 and on the road at 10:00, 50 km then lunch, 30 km then coffee and cake, the final slow push and  then a high carb/ calorie dinner of peanuts, beer, hot food, chocolate and more beer to finish.

We rolled into Berlin on the evening of the 13th having covered 1000km in 10 days. Not the pace we had in mind or intend to maintain. However, we did it and it feels good to know that we are fit enough to go that far that fast.

Berlin has been lovely, we recommend the DDR museum, a sort of interactive look at life as it was in the East under the GDR. Also BurgerMaister in Kreuzberg for a cool place to eat and drink.

We have just put Valter on a plane back to the UK after his epic, but ultimately triumphant struggle to get a bike box from one of Berlins many bike shops.

We will miss him but not for linguistic reasons. I hope he doesn’t ask for a reference for his next translating role. If you do hire him don’t make the same mistake as I did, paying him in advance in chocolate biscuits, it’s very difficult to get your money back.

We have decided on a route for the next leg of our trip. We are going to head back through Potsdam to the Elbe river where we will follow it to Prague, at a more leisurely pace.

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4 responses

15 08 2012
Lem Kenny

Congratulations – though I think you mean 1000 km not 100 in 10 days – even i could do that! Watch out for those dangerous mice. xxx

15 08 2012
bev and paul

great stories, funny , keep em coming .
Everyone here has post olympic sadness, but not us although it was fun.

Lots of love and relieved to know all well.
Aunty Bev Paul dan xxx

30 08 2012
john and marie

Hiya

Sounds like you are having a ball. I like the idea of hidden camps keep out riff raff!! You may miss Valter but are sure to find others like him possible. You are getting fit if nothing else and your geography should be excellent by the time you get back, all our love keep going missing and thinking of you

John Marie Joe Rob and Ryan.

31 08 2012
rosyandjim

Cheers guys. Sense of direction is slowly improving. We are about to test our waterproof gear out today. It thunder stormed like crazy right above us all night and the rain shows no sign of stopping this morning either.
Lots of love, Rosy and Jim

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