Time to start getting in shape so we took advantage of some pleasant early spring weather for a short, two-day tour. Under a bright blue sky we headed for Scheyern, location of a monastery and beer brewery established in 1119, as well as a place to sleep, all located in pretty Bavarian countryside.
All went well although we had some challenging hills as we got closer to Scheyern, and we definitely were a little saddle sore after not having ridden a tour of any length for quite a while!
How good it was to be on the road again, to sit down on a park bench for a simple roadside picnic, to discover little towns we didn't know existed, to curse the climbs and gloat upon reaching the top with the best views, to be outdoors all day long and to experience the feeling of accomplishment upon reaching our destination at the end of the day.
For the return ride we chose a different route, which again treated us to a pretty and hilly bit of Bavaria. We marveled at - and were also thankful for - the number of excellent dedicated bike paths we encountered which took us off roads with no shoulder and too much traffic.
In the two days we covered a little over 100 kilometers. A good start into the season. A few more days in the saddle and we'll be fit for the big tour.
Our time in Andalusia came to an end and in mid-February we returned to Munich. The snow was gone and it looked like spring was just around the corner. Which meant one thing to me - time to get on my bike.
Since then I have had bike touring on my brain. Janos and I haven't been doing too much cycling for a while. Everyday cycling around town, yes, but we haven't gone on any extended tours. There was a short tour in the Czech Republic and another one north of Berlin, but neither of them was much more than a week. The passion was dormant, but it's still there and has now resurfaced.
We have decided on a tour in Belgium, or more precisely Flanders, home of my maternal grandparents who immigrated to the US when they were in their teens. My mother spoke Flemish - or Dutch, it's the same language - as a child and yes, I'd like to have a closer look at the country where my grandparents came from.
Another reason for touring in Flanders is that there is an extensive network of bike paths. Not to forget the many varieties of good beer, the pommes frites, waffles, Belgian chocolate ... oh, so many reasons to go to Belgium. And last but not least - it's flat! At least Flanders is, and that is where we are headed.
I think I have the logistics worked out. It should be simple. There is a direct train from Munich (where we live) to Düsseldorf which takes bicycles. From there it will be about 100 km to the Belgian border. The return trip is still open. I like to picture us cycling all the way back - but let's first see how we feel on a longer tour after so many years. We're both closer to 80 than 70 and I want to remain realistic.