1 day away from a long ferry trip
Once again, an d to be clear, it is now 6:30 PM, on the 11th of August, and I’m in a little cafe in Lubeck, Germany. I’m using a WiFi hot-spot, offered to me by the chef of this little cafe. She was very generous to offer something like this, to a total stranger, but perhaps its dumb luck, or perhaps its one more example of being kind to strangers. In either case, I’ve got limited time, and would like to get as much done as possible.
As was the case for the previous blog post, written only minutes ago, I don’t have access to sufficient bandwidth, nor to my tools to render and post video, etc. So, once I board the ferry, I’ll pay for WiFi, and start rendering like crazy, rewriting these posts, and inserting pictures and video. But, in the meantime, I can give a quick recap of the day.
Nancy and Xavier
I cannot thank Nancy and Xavier enough. They were wonderful hosts, and great friends. They shared their home, their food, their WiFi, and just about everything else wit me, and then they acted as a VIP tour operation, where they take the client anywhere he wants to go. And so, yesterday, we did a bunch of sightseeing, and had a ball. But, I’ll write all about that, in yesterday’s post, tomorrow, when I rewrite it.
Hmmm, as I wrote that last sentence, I could not escape that it sounded like I was saying that it was an old day yesterday, but it’s a new day now. I think that Xavier’s love of Jethro Tull has clearly rubbed off on me. In fact, as I rode today, I looked out into a field, and I saw some horses. Nut just any horses, but in fact, these appeared to be Heavy Horses. Go figure…
I left their place at about 8:00 on the nose, and after a hug, and a wave goodbye, I was off, like a flash. I’ve included a couple of photos taken as I was departing Belgium.
I looked out, and what did I see?
When I visited Amsterdam, it was hard to miss what a strong bicycling culture they have in that city. Bicycles are everywhere, and it is the primary means of transportation for just about everything. Berlin was much the same way, and as you know, Ben helped me rent an eBike, and I became like so many others, peddling my little ass off, as I went from place to place.
But, Belgium is different. Yes, it’s a strong cycling culture, but these folks take cycling really seriously. For example, I left Nancy’s house, and within 4 miles, I had already come upon about half a dozen cycling clubs, riding in groups, preparing to attack some serious hills, while clad in spandex from head to toe.
Belgium has a strong history of world class cyclists, and even my hosts, Nancy and Xavier are formidable cyclists. Xavier has been world champion in the masters category, and Nancy is simply a bad-ass, although she would not describe herself that way. She’s likely to say that she’s getting a bit older, and can’t do the things now, that she could once do. Nevertheless, as I rode away on the motorcycle, Nancy loaded the bike into the car, preparing to ride for about 65 miles in the Ardennes forest, while Xavier simply rode off, without telling me where he was going, or how far he planned to go. He’s pretty low key about this stuff, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t put in at least a hundred miles.
Yet another GPS map problem
OK, I figured out what the problem was with the maps, and to prove it, I replaced the Belgium map in my GPS with another map of Belgium, from a different website. The new map worked perfectly, and had no signs of corruption at all.
So, having replaced the map, I figured I was home safe, knowing that I had experienced no problems at all with the map of Germany. And so, I started my journey, and headed to Lubeck.
The route would take me from Belgium, across the border to the Netherlands, and then after about 40 miles or so, into Germany. Now, you might recall that the first time that I reported having map problems was when I was traveling from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf, to visit with Ingo and Anika. But, I managed to forget about this problem, when I was busy problem solving last night. So, as I was riding across the Netherlands, only 40 miles from Germany, the GPS started showing map gaps, areas where there was no information displayed, and the map was essentially blank. I should have taken the time to also replace the map of The Netherlands, and I could have avoided the problem.
But, I can imagine that some of you folks are having a bit of trouble understanding what I’m talking about, so I stopped and took a screen shot of the problem, while it was happening, so that you can see what I’m talking about.
After a short period of time, I managed to get to the German border, where my GPS switched over to the Germany map, and I was able to Navigate all the way to Lubeck, without too much drama.
A long day
Today’s trip was just shy of 400 miles, but I planned a route that brought me mostly over major highways, relying on secondary roads only when necessary. So, the trip took 8 hours, which calculates to an average speed of 50 mph.
Today was also a rain-free day. Not a single drop of rain fell on me at any time today. I was beginning to think that it rains every day in Europe, but now I see that it rains almost every day, which is marginally better.
Lane splitting in Germany
At some point in time, I think it might have been when I was in Berlin, I heard that it is legal for motorcycles to split lanes on the highway in Germany. For those of you not familiar with this, it means that when traffic slows down on a highway, motorcycles are allowed to ride between the lanes of traffic, eliminating the need to constantly stop, and start the bike. Lane splitting is legal in California, and the AMA is pursuing legislation to make it legal in all 50 states, but I think it’s only legal in a few states.
Nevertheless, today, I was put in heavy tracffic, which was sometimes a traffic jam of as much as 8 miles, and so I decided that lane splitting was going to be the answer. So, I waited for traffic to stop, and then inserted my bike in-between the cars, and rode along at a relatively slow pace of between 10 – 20 mph. Now, I don’t want to be an asshole, so I tried very hard to honor the intention of lane splitting, which is to keep motorcyclists safe, by eliminating the need for stop and go. So, as soon as the traffic was moving again, I got back in my lane, and plowed along with the traffic, but if traffic stopped, then I reinserted myself and started lane splitting again.
From my time in California, I remember how, even though it is legal to lane split, most drivers are in their own world, are not paying attention, and do not really help motorcyclists while they are lane splitting.
My bike is pretty wide, and so I can’t just zip between cars like an agile cat. I need to be more like a bull in a china shop, moving slowly and carefully, making sure that everyone sees me. And so, much like in California, there is a percentage of drivers who either don’t like when motorcyclists split lanes, or they simply don’t know what to do, or can’t be bothered.
To a biker, it looks like this… You’re riding between cars, and all of the cars in the leftmost lane have moved to the extreme edge of the road. The drivers in 2nd lane from the left, move to the right of their lane, and they work in concert to create a wide path for a bike to ride through. But, when someone is oblivious, they don’t move over, and it’s obvious that they are not aware of you. So, depending on which lane they are in, they don’t move right or left, as would be appropriate.
So, with 18,000 lumens of Clearwater lights at my disposal, I turn on the high beams, and almost burn the paint off of their cars. Drivers who are conscientious, move over quickly, and seemingly apologize, but the stubborn ones, don’t do anything. When I ride by these drivers, I say “tsk tsk” to myself in my helmet, and sometimes give them an evil eye when driving by.
Remember, the problem is that, if they don’t see me, they might change lanes, directly in front of me, and so to avoid this, I will not pass a car unless they have either moved over, or I’m confident that they see me. And so it went, with me splitting lanes until I came upon a car that would not move over, I’d hit the high-beams and wait until they saw me. If they never saw me, then I’d wait until there was an opening adjacent to their car, and I’d grab it, accelerate around them, and move on to the next target.
The bike recorded a lot of video today, so I’ll find some video of the lane-splitting, and post it.
I made it to Lubeck
In the end, I made it to Lubeck, and to my lodging for the night. When I booked this place, I confirmed that it had free WiFi. But, when I checked in, I discovered that it does not have WiFi at all, and although the owner sent me a note, offering to help me with any request that I might have, she did not speak English, did not contact me in advance to tell me where to get the keys, did not have anyone that could help her solve this problem, and simply told me that there is no WiFi. I’m going to raise this issue with Booking.com, and I’m sure that I’ll get it resolved.
In any case, it is because that I do not have any Internet connectivity today, that I am able to write this post, while sitting in a little cafe, in Lubeck.
What will tomorrow bring?
Tomorrow, I’ll head to Travelmunde, but I’ll need to pack differently for this trip. Because I have a cabin, and I’ll need to do a bit of computer work, I’ll pack a separate bag, which will have my computer, clothing, and other incidentals, which I’ll take with me to my cabin, after I board the ferry, and secure the bike.
I’ll arrive at the dock sometime late at night, and get the bike on board, and secured for a 3:00 AM departure. The ferry will leave at 3:00 AM, on the 13th, and arrive on the 14th, at 9:00 AM. I’ll then need to take a ferry from Helsinki to Estonia, on the other side of the Baltic Sea. I’ve still got quite a few questions about his process, and without Internet, I’ll have more difficulty in answering them, but I’ll do my best over the next 1 1/2 days.