The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 5, 20 July 2018: Rendsburg to Bad Bramstedt (77 km; 281 km in total)

Our last day on the Ochsenweg, the old connection between Jutland and Schleswig-Holstein. Sorting out our food intake had a distinct benefit, as did a noticeable improvement in long-distance bicycle fitness. No matter how fit or unfit you might think you are before the beginning of a long ride, it always takes a few days to regain the peculiar fitness that comes from thousands of pedal revolutions.

Our bums too were becoming used to being on bicycle seats for five or six hours a day. Over the first few days, they were tender in strange places, with a good layer of lanolin needed overnight. But skin toughens up, the seat moulds to one’s derriere and it begin to feel like a comfortable lounge.

We rode southward from Rendsburg, winding and twisting our way along the route until Nortorff. As is the German wont, the route had a variety of surfaces, from village cobbles, through paved bicycle paths and farm roads, to dirt tracks through forests. But it was sign-posted well, except for our bypass of Neumünster – we did not want at this point of the day to negotiate another town and its marketplace.

Before then, we stopped at Nortorff and sat down to some decent German pastry at a baker. Under normal circumstances I can perhaps manage one of these items, given their loadings of animal fats, sugars and flour. But on a bicycle, I can down a significant number.

Even so, the energy ran out with about 10 kilometres to go. We pedalled slowly into the intriguing town of Bad Bramstedt (more on the town tomorrow) and Hotel Freeze. At 89 Euro it was definitely a luxury, but the new proprietor seemed keen to cut corners in intriguing ways. For example one of the light fittings needed a twist of the bulb to turn it on, for the cord was broken.

The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 4, 19 July 2018: Flensburg to Rendsburg (80 km; 204 km in total)

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Today was our opportunity to get food patterns sorted, especially since we had German country food upon which to draw. For some reason, German bicycle routes seem to go extraordinarily well with German food and beer. I at least burn up a lot of energy and need to be replenished regularly: a big German breakfast, with its eggs, oats, yoghurt, bread rolls and cheese. If we had a buffet, we would select more than enough; if a set table, I would eat everything on the table, even the sliced meats. Why? Normally, I am a vegetarian, but without the regular sources of protein (beans, wholemeal rice, tofu and so on) I had to do as the Germans do – when in the village, follow the local customs. Charged up and a little overfull after breakfast, I had enough reserves to last until lunch.

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Lunch was at a Gastäte in Schleswig. Buying lunch like this was an exception, since normally we bought food for the day and would stop where needed: breads, satchels of jam and honey from breakfast, grapefruit, cucumber and bananas – endless bananas. Later, I found the blissful ‘Ice Coffee’ muesli bars in Aldi and we hit upon the wonderfully refreshing combination of sour cherry drink and mineral water – a litre of each was mixed and gone in one sitting.

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From Flensburg to Schleswig, we rode alone the Ochsenweg. Through ancient forest, along farm tracks and through villages it went. I pondered older ideas of what counted as roads. One clearly needed regular stops for the night, every 20 kilometres or so, and food had to be plentiful. Guard posts too were a constant feature – back then, at least (they are gone now). A hill and a twist are no problems, for one is going at horse or walking pace. Like us, really. So no need for straight roads along which one can speed along.

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Except if it is hot and dry, like today. After Schleswig, we decided to pick up the paved bicycle path along the ‘77’ route. Straight from Schleswig to Rendsburg it went. Settle into a rhythm, tired though you might be, and the kilometres tick by.

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At Rendsburg, we were gone. All that was left was to dig out Hotel Tüxen, along the twists and turns of the town and under a glorious railway overpass. At 80 Euro it was a little over our budget but relatively modest for the coastal regions in high holiday mode. The massive German meal, with its glorious salad (with some content, as Germans like) and Bauernfrüstuck, are my favourites. The latter’s basis is an omelette-like slab loaded with potatoes and onions. It may have some extras, but it hits the spot as no other food – when on a German bicycle route.

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We slept almost 10 hours.

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