This also means it has been a whole eight months since we last cycled; which is bad, very bad. I will blame the winter weather, and skim lightly over the fact that I have seen people cycling in the city all winter long...
For us, one of these homestyle-factors is a good cycle route.
When we have the knowledge of even just one trail under our belts, the place we are living becomes a step closer to feeling like our home.
We had started cycling in Leicester the summer before we left England, and spent the occasional afternoon on a summer weekend cycling around Rutland Water; but it was whilst living in Munich where we really caught the cycling bug. The city was so well adapted to pedal power, with cycle lanes virtually everywhere and a deep respect for cyclists which far overpowered that of pedestrians and cars; that we could not help but get drawn into it all. There was a fantastic network of routes both inner city and way out into the Bavarian countryside, and we made good use of them. T cycled to work, I did the grocery shopping and day to day tasks by bike, we cycled into town at the weekends and, later on as my fitness built up, we cycled out into the countryside straight from home and stayed out all day, covering many miles. In the summer months there was no need for a car at all, in fact we didn't have one for a year and we didn't miss it at all!
One of our favourite routes in Munich was a 40 mile (64km) long circular trip up to a small town called Neufahrn bei Freising, approximately 12 miles (20km) north of the city. We would cycle up through fields, along tracks and quiet country roads, and then stop and have a coffee and a bretze (sometimes a cake too) at a great bakery (Bäckerei) in the town we chanced upon on our first visit, and then cycle back along the river Isar. There was nothing I loved more than getting up on a summers morning and just heading out armed with a picnic, spending all day in the countryside, nothing planned, just following the bike signs and going as far as we felt like. Bliss.
In Sevilla, we had to drive for at least half an hour to find a route we really enjoyed. We found a track which ran on the planes of the countryside close to the stunning small town of Carmona, 40 minutes away from home, and this got us through our cycling cravings at first; until we discovered Via Verdes, a website which detailed 1800km of trails along disused railway tracks all over Spain. One, Via Verde de la Sierra, starts from a village called Puerto Serrano, over an hours drive from home, we returned to quite a few times. This 22 mile (36km) long route features a number of viaducts and tunnels - some of which are very long and dark, and despite many having light switches some didn't, so it was a Russian Roulette whether you would hit a pot hole or not, and if you did run into one, wether you would fall off your bike. It kept the ride exciting I suppose!
Expecting to go on a few rides out here in the Autumn/Fall, we bought the bikes out with us when we flew here; but by the time we had finished doing all the essential new-to-a-country tasks such as registering for this, that and the other, and buying furniture etc we didn't get the chance and then winter soon descended upon us.
Finally though, our weekends are becoming our own to do what we want with and winter is a distant memory!
It was good to get back on the bikes. I was a little nervous at first, as my last cycle had ended badly.
On our final free weekend in Munich we had planned to cycle our favourite route. Ten minutes into the ride, we were going downhill on gravel and I was overtaking a walker. As I did so, another cyclist came around the corner towards me; meaning I either dropped back or sped up to overtake the person walking. I usually drop back as I hate going downhill and err on the side of caution when descending, but for some unknown reason I sped up and overtook. I hit the corner at full speed so slammed on the breaks, which sent the bike flying from underneath me and I skidded down the path on my front. I cut my wrist and leg pretty badly - it could have been a great deal worse, but it could also have been alot better.
We knew there was a supermarket a couple of minutes further along, so slowly made our way there to buy some antiseptic lotion to clean the cuts with. We discovered they didn't sell the antiseptic wash or bandages, so T had to cycle down the road to another shop whilst I waited in the supermarket carpark. I started feeling a little woozy, so sat down on the pavement and put my head in my hands, willing myself to not faint.
When I looked up, an ambulance was pulling into the carpark. Not an emergency one, but still an ambulance all the same. I presumed they had come to get lunch from the supermarket bakery. They parked just infront of where I was sitting and looked over at me, so I proceeded to look around as if I wasn't really sat there covered in blood; this was just how I like to hang on a Saturday afternoon.
They then got out and took their bags out of the back of the vehicle and came over to me.
Someone had seen me sat on my own, blood gushing from my knee and wrist and called them! I was mortified!
Luckily T turned up at this time, and so was able to speak to them in German and explain the situation, as I was having trouble speaking in English at this point, never mind German. They bandaged me up and told us to go to the hospital to have the cuts checked out, cleaned properly and make sure I hadn't done more damage to my knee.
I really didn't think I needed to go to hospital but they insisted, so we had to jump on the train (the station was right next-door to the supermarket - not often it's that easy!) and hobble to the hospital. There, they cleaned the wounds and patched me up, and no major damage was done.
So that was my last cycle. As well as frayed nerves from it, I still have a black knee which shows no signs of disappearing. Hmph.
Thankfully Saturday's cycle was much more successful and no injuries occurred!