It's all downhill from here, right?
by Patrick Burns
"For, after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We woke early to the gentle murmur of the Salzburg streets with gas station chocolate croissants to tide us over until breakfast. With the shortened days of alpine climbing behind us, we have many miles to make up if we are to get to Amsterdam on schedule. This means multiple 100-130 mile days in our future.
We started off swiftly, biking along a shaded path, with no need for shade on an overcast morning. As we biked out of Salzburg, I couldn't help but feel fortunate for the scenery the day before because the clouds lingered low, obscuring the once striking vistas.
A brief loss of course had us check our phones for directions and this is how I realized that we jumped the border from Austria to Germany with no other signs to alert us to the milestone.
This is literally how I found out we made it to Germany. Sorry, no border photo this time.
We continued in search of sustenance and found refuge in a small bakery in Palling, Germany. It was filled with pretzels and pastries, delightful cappuccinos, and other beverages for the lactose-challenged.
I know there was concern that Justin wasn't eating enough. As you can see, those fears are unfounded.
As we were leaving, the woman at the counter asked "Bist du vier oder fünf? (Are you four or five?)" With the limited German I had learned from Don over the past few days, I promptly answered "vier" as she bagged up four complimentary (and fresh from the oven) soft and salted pretzels to fuel us on the next leg of the journey.
People are so incredibly nice!
Freshly satiated, we sped on flat and fast roads through village after village. We saw such highlights as Feichten, Englesberg, Taufkirchen, and Stefanskirchen (Don't worry, the rest of the guys don't remember it either - they were mostly nondescript cornfields and rolling hills that blended in with each other).
We stopped for lunch at a Doner Kebab / Pizzeria in Velden, Germany and had a delicious lunch. Just then the skies decided to open up. Relentless rainwater and tire splashes pelted our faces, but we knew we had many miles to go, and we needed to press on. Though we were careful to watch out for each other with obstacles and cars, a slick path caught us by surprise and Justin slid on the ground.
Don't worry, Justin is in good hands. Don advocated for amputation, but we ultimately decided on more conservative management.
We took a moement to regain confidence in our riding and decided that since we were in the habit of emulating movies yesterday, we would continue the theme.
Children of the corn, and Patrick (somebody had to take the first photo).
The skies seemed to open up more and more with each passing revolution of our wheels. Gone were the afternoons of blaring sunshine and relentless heat. Now our soaking wet clothes came from the outside in.
Can we comment on the expensive trash bag I am wearing? It looked even worse in person.
As we finally arrived at our final destination 104 miles later - Mainburg, Germany - our bodies were shivering and our hands frozen. We rushed to the rooms to enjoy a hot shower and coffee before regrouping.
The rain finally broke, and Justin and I ran to the local Lidl (discount grocery store) for much-needded sustenance and more of the grapefruit Radlers that we have become so fond of.
Healthy food...it's all healthy food, I swear.
After a short rest, it was time for dinner.
We decided that after such a success with our Thai dinner adventure last night, we would attempt Indian fare in this small German hamlet. We were not disappointed - the service at Ganesha Indisches Restaurant was slow but superb and the food exemplary! Yum.
We retreated back to our rooms, well-fed, tired but warm and ready to tackle the challenging 130-mile day that lay ahead of us.
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ABOUT PATRICK BURNS
Patrick is an emergency medicine physician at Stanford University. He lives in San Francisco but grew up in the Boston area, where he attended medical school at Tufts University. He has been an avid triathlete and ultra-running enthusiast for many years, and has wanted to bike across a continent since 2014 when he hosted the other three in Seattle before launching them on their ride across the U.S. from Seattle to Boston.