At long last, the day dawned bright and sunny. The inside of our tent was hot this morning! Off came our knitted hats, along with our tent's bone-dry rain-fly, but not before we donned our sorely neglected spandex riding shorts. If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be excited to wear spandex in the morning, I would have responded with disbeliving laughter. And yet, there I was, happy as a clam in my form-fitting attire.
With smiles on our faces, we spent the better part of the morning baking away the last vestiges of dampness from our lives. After laying our wet things out to dry, we packed them, tucking the whole of our worldly possesions neatly away in the panniers they call home. While Tara finished our camp break, I cleaned our chains, oiled our saddles, and changed my brake pads.
Summer, here we come!
Just a few pedal strokes out of our campground, we turned to the cycle path which would lead us all the way to Bamberg (our destination for the day). The sun was shining, flowers bloomed, and we were following a flat route along a canal. Easy cycling; just what we wanted!
The first part of the ride was nice. We stopped to take pictures several times, and Tara sat for awhile, writing out a list of a hundred things she wanted to do with her life.
By all accounts, the day should have been an easy one, and for me, it was. Tara, on the other hand, started to have a rough time during the second half of the day. Just as she did last year when we entered France, she suddenly developed very bad case of hay fever. As we rode, she sniffled, rubbed at her itchy eyes, and wiped long trails of runny snot from her nose onto her leg.
Most of all, she sneezed. And sneezed. And sneezed some more. She must've sneezed at least a thousand times throughout the course of the day. One right into the next without any relief, often for fifteen minutes at a time.
I felt terrible for her. I rode a fair distance behind, leaving room for the inevitable swerving which followed each concussive aaaaAACHHOO! Then, she'd emit a little moan in the split second she had before the next round began. I wished we had or could buy some anti-histamines, but we didn't pass any pharmacies during our ride. As it was, she was a trooper, but I knew she was miserable.
In spite of the beautiful weather and flat roads, we once again decided to call it a day early, and began looking for a free-camp. On our way, Tara yelled "STOP!", calling us to a halt to photograph some bright red poppies in a field of wheat, particularly gorgeous against the late-afternoon sun.
Into the field she went, camera in one hand, covering her sneezes with the other. She'd get the camera ready, focus, and then "AAAACHOOO!" and she'd have to start all over again. Between sneezes, though, she managed to capture the field's beauty.
Before we left, I took one too. I wanted to try bracketing to see if we could make a nice HDR image like our friends Mike and Katherine, but later decided it was too much work. We do enough photo stuff (for now).
Then, we continued on until we found the perfect camping spot in the woods right off the bike path. Nearby, there was a place where the canal-side nettles cleared and we could slip into the canal to wash the sweat from our bodies.
Thankful to be home for the night, we set up amidst the trees, sunlight filtering in through the leaves. Once everything was done, we grabbed our towels and ran to the canal. I lept in. Though I was hyperventaliating from the ice-cold water, Tara surprised me by leaping in as well.
Together we dunked our heads, and then scurried back onto the bank, refreshed from our frigid swim. Having had a large, late lunch at a discount grocery store, we weren't hungry for dinner. No meal to cook, no dishes to do, no biking to be done. We were home, and had the weekend before us. Our plans for the next few days can be summed up in a single word: Nothing.