DAY 25 – “Gooooooooodbye” came the chorus from the group of Japanese tourists who, smiling and gasping in admiration, watched intently we loaded the panniers onto the bikes, preparing to cycle 85km along the Altmühl river to the Altmühlsee lake. “Gooooooodbye” we replied in unison, smiling to each other as we walked our bikes along the cobbled stone street, leaving Rothenburg.
The Japanese tourists had been interested in what we were doing, as are many people almost every day. As a result, we find that people stare at us. A lot. I’m not sure if its a cultural thing, or a man/woman thing, but it doesn’t affect me and I barely notice it, but it bothers Yami. “What are they looking at?” is a question she frequently asks me.
In the street, people watch when we pass by, sometimes smiling at us, sometimes looking on stony faced. At campsites we arrive, pitch our tent, cook dinner and go about our business, all the while being examined by the nosy neighbours in their large camper vans.
Yami believes people are judging us for being in a tent, or on a bike, and has become very conscious of the looks and stares we receive. I’m not sure why people are so interested, and frankly, I’m not worried. I’d hope they were thinking positive things, but if they were thinking negative things, it wouldn’t matter to me. It does matter to Yami though, and being watched annoys her, especially by older women in campsites.
Leaving Rothenburg on another bright sunny but fresh morning we initially rolled downhill but came soon came to the steepest section of road we had encountered on the trip so far. My fresh legs powered up, but Yami was left pushing her bike up the hill. At the top, her mood had darkened at the prospect of a day climbing hills. I tried to reassure her that the route would be mainly downhill, but to no avail. We cycled on for a few hours, again with an uneasy tension between us. I left her to herself, trying not to let her darken my own mood.
We stopped for lunch in the small town of Herrieden and I took the opportunity to buy provisions for the next two days, as I knew that everything would shut later in the afternoon until Monday morning. Yami’s mood had improved and we cycled the afternoon on the open plains following the small Altmühl stream, which grew into a proper river as the afternoon wore on.
Before collapsing into our sleeping bags for an early night, we had arrived on the Altmühlsee after a long 85km day, set up our tent and cooked a pasta dinner, all the while being watched by our neighbours, a couple in a camper van across the way. The tiredness of a long days cycling had gotten to Yami, as this bothered her and we ended up bickering again before bedtime.