vrijdag 2 mei 2014

The German Harz 2014

Oh yes, time to get busy already! Together with my compadre for Iceland Heiko Spaans I set off to central Germany, to test some of the new kit for 2014 and get some good riding on in the process.

So on Saturday-morning the 26th of April, we set off in an easterly disposition. The first ride was admittedly the hardest - over 450 km of gutwrenching ass-numbing highway, with a few B-roads at the end to finish it all off.

But we got to see an oldschool Fiat Panda with a trailer, so that was nice. 

And progress was pretty quick. Admittedly, the B-roads at the end were quite hard after hundreds of kms of tiring motorways, but before long we entered the Harz.

And with it, also a rainstorm of sorts. That was not the deal!

After it had finally calmed down, the camp was set up. I'm not going to say who was the fastest ofcourse, but let's just say my victory dance is in the compilation. Hardened tent pegs rule!

Day 2

The second day brought us to the south of the Harz area, where we'd planned to see a monument of some kind. I was apprehensive of the day's schedule - over 300km of twisties was to be clocked up.

But the riding itself was pretty good - I could see why there were alot of bikers coming and going. Even the weather cleared up - very nice!

The chickenstrips were shrinking by the minute.

We even took a nice semi-offroad detour, pulling a dust cloud behind ourselves. All was well.

When we made it to the monument though, we were in for two surprises:

1. We were not the only bikers

2. A Bratwurst sandwich was just 1 Euro. For that kinda money, we'll take several please!

When we returned to the Harz natural reservation however, things predictably took a turn for the worst. We arrived in the rain at 3pm, but late at night it was still coming down.

And I do not mean the "Oh deary me it's getting a bit moist here" kind of rain, more the "HOLY HELL ARMAGEDDON IS UPON US" kind of rain. It was akin to a flashflood, but then from the sky.

The strangest thing was that when we went to the reception house to get our clothes (and ourselves) warm and dry, the heating had been turned off  because they'd be closed in the evening, and the proprietor didn't feel like heating the house for nothing. Customer service, it's such an underrated concept.

Alas, we took it all in good stride - our tents were on a hill anyways. I decided it was as good a time as any to see whether the can-stove could do anything else other than provide me with a meal.

And wouldn't you know it, it did! Together with one of the pannier lids I set the thing up to heat the inside of the tent. I know, it might seem a bit precarious having a two foot flame in the middle of a plastic cocoon, but as long as you keep the thing away from the sidewalls (and keep an eye on it) there's no real issue. 

Also, the rain outside probably helped as well.

In fact, within seconds the thing had heated up the tent to such a degree I felt like getting out of the sweater I had put on so-hastily a few hours earlier. It was positively subtropical all of a sudden.

So I took it a step further, and decide to open up the can of soup I'd brought along... and before long, I found myself eating some hot soup whilst reading a good book in my heated tent. Rain was still thundering down outside, but I couldn't have cared less.

It was one of those truly blissful moments.

Day 3

Waking up, the weather finally seemed to have calmed down. It wasn't dry (yet), but at least it wasn't raining anymore.

We'd agreed to take it slow today, and just go to visit the nearby city of Goslar. 

It was to be Walpurgisnight in a few days, so the streets were lined with witches. 

And witches like riddles... so let's see if you can find the project sticker on the pic below!

After a walk around the city centre, we bought some beer and went back to camp... where the sun finally seemed to have zeroed in on our HQ's location. Time to chill the beer, and relax!

(And yes, that's how we chilled the beer. Plastic bag + piece of string + reservoir = cold booze!)

I took the opportunity to pit the Primus and can stove up against each other, but the wind seemed eager to throw a spanner in the works. Comparing the two though, the Primus can get stuff warm the quickest, but it is (besides expensive) immensely fiddly to use in a pinch.

The can stove is probably as lo-fi and reliable as you can make it. It might not be the fastest stove out there, but it will always get the job done. Considering how easy and cheap the can stove is to make and use (not to mention its awesome central-heating properties), I reckon I'll be leaving the Primus home this Summer.

The next day, we left at the break of dawn.

It'd been a good test for this Summer. Let's just hope that it won't rain as much then.