I went on a long bike ride yesterday. Actually, it was my first really long bike trip but I hadn't planned it like that. I had a bike in Boston but used it only for getting around in the city and never for a long ride. Boston had some decent bike trails but somehow I never got around to it.
After my Walhalla trip, someone told me about Beifriengshalle - the counterpart to Walhalla. It's another place with a nice view of the valley and nearby there's supposed to be a monastery where monks have been brewing beer for almost 1000 years. It was in the other direction along the Danube and supposed to be worth a visit. He mumbled something about it being 20-25 km away from Regensburg and as it was a nice day I decided to head out there.
The bike ride started off well and within 15 minutes I was biking through rural Bavaria. The bike trails are well maintained with good signage and since it was a Sunday there were a lot of bikers and walkers along the trail. Every 20 mins or so, there's a small village with a beer garden, cafe or even a town with a market. I left around noon, so there a lot of people were enjoying their lunch and beer after church. Biking through the villages and along the Danube, seeing small towns is a lot of fun.
The ride turned out to be much, much longer than I thought. I realised later that it was 20km or so along the highway, not along the river. This was something which didn't occur to me and I thought that Kelheilm, the village at the base of Beifreingshalle, was just a bit further away. At some point, I'd been biking for almost 2 hours, stopped at a village and asked for Kelheilm. One of them shook his head, and said at least another 10-15 km. I went on and on, and realised soon that a mountain bike isn't ideal for such a long ride. After almost two and a half hours, I could finally see Befreiungshalle, and with the fall colours in the backgroun (not in full bloom yet), it was a nice sight.
The last stretch, from the village to the top, was a killer. It was only 2-3 km but a steep incline and I had to get off my bike and start walking. It took me a long time to get up there and I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top. The building wasn't that impressive but the view was nice (sounds familiar, doesn't it?).
I pottered around for an hour, taking pictures and got a bit stiff, after such a long ride. Asked about the boat back to Regensburg, and one of the information guys replied that I'd missed the last boat back. He said there was a train station about 10 km away but wasn't too sure when the last train to R'burg was. It was almost 4 pm, so I had to decide where I should go the other way to catch the train or bike all the way back. Decided to bike back and calculated I would be back home just before sundown. Had to forego a trip to the monastery and the brewery. Next time.
Biking down the steep hill was a great thrill though. I don't think I've ever been on a bike so fast and since there was no traffic, and there were sharp bends, I had a nice time whizzing down and making sharp turns. It was invigorating and the first hour of biking went by in a rush. The next 2 hours were quite a drag especially as it became colder and I started to get stiff. Made a brief pit stop to get some water. Somehow, Europeans always give aerated water when you ask for water. It's nowhere as refreshing and actually made me a bit queasy on the way back. Whatever happened to normal water? Anyway, the nice thing about biking back in the evening was to see a nice sunset over the valley.
I made it back to R'burg at close to 7pm. I got very stiff during the last hour and biked very slowly. Had a nice beer and doner kebap in the old town, and it felt so good. Went back to my office and using googlemaps pedometer measured the distance from home to university to kelheilm and back. Realised I'd biked about 90 km! That's easily the longest bike ride I've ever done and I woke up this morning fairly stiff.
Anyway, I'm off to Berlin on Wednesday for 4-5 days. Will update the blog once I'm back.