Have now arrived in Höxter and have taken this chance to update this blog. My progress had slowed considerably due to the lack of posted signs which led to delays and backtracking as well as my first mechanical failure up to this point, a flat tire. Fixing the flat was an educational experience for me, and should another flat occur, I can honestly say that I'd be pretty darn good at fixing the hole.
Another thing that has contributed to my slower pace is the uphill section of the trip which I have thankfully passed. This began with the Harz Radweg path which the R1 route began to follow which was identified by a witch riding a bicycle with her broomstick strapped to the back. I quickly found that this witch on the sign to mean "Welcome to your new hell". My introduction to this new section of the course was a immediate 60 degree climb up a dirt path which took me quite some time ascend. Thankfully the majority of the hills I had to climb were not so steep and had an easier surface on which to climb. A number of the last few days has been spent pushing my bike up steep hills in the sun, and sometimes in the shade. When I haven't been doing that, I've been speeding down gravel surfaces at insane speeds. Considering I don't wear a helmet, or even shoes, this is probably quite dangerous. The roads aren't the best maintained as well, so it isn't a case of avoiding the potholes, but rather picking the more shallow potholes to fly full speed into. The wisdom of taking these downhill sections at highspeed was illustrated to me when I hit what I assume to be some sort of drain at Mach 10 which was curved in such a way as to give me some "fully sick air" propelling me around a meter in the air. Thankfully I landed the bike and continued on full speed. I probably shouldn't be suprised that I developed a flat the way I treat the bike.
There is a positive out of this whole sign debacle though. I am now not relying on the R1 route or the signs at all. I usually keep myself aware of the main roads that the R1 route passes through, the towns I need to go through, and whatnot. If I then lose my way due to a lack of decent signs posted, I continue along to the next town along one of the major motorways. In fact, I'm doing this more often now if I see that the route that is planned for me is going to take too much of a winding course and I would prefer to take a shorter route to my destination. All in all, I'm probably only following the R1 route around half the time now, and am happier with the result.
After saying all this though, the signs are now quite a bit more reliable. I have been able to follow them for the last day or two now without running into any missing signs, or signs pointing me in circular routes (Something I encoutered once or twice more after I circled Concordia See). Even still, I no longer follow the signs blindly and will only follow them as far as they lead in the direction and path that I am going.
All in all my trip has been overwhelmingly positive. After a short frustrating period where I was hunting for signs it is now back to the relaxing city hopping experience I had at the start of my trip. I also discovered ice tea, or as the Germans call it, "Eis Tee" which is about as cheap as water here, and tasty to boot. This has pretty much replaced water as my liquid intake, however I do make sure to drink a decent amount of pure water as well.
My diet at the moment consists of mainly Muesli and..., well..., Muesli. I occasionally throw something else in there just to mix things up a little, and make sure to eat fruit on a daily basis, but this is the staple of my diet. As I'm getting pretty sick of Muesli, and I heard that rice is pretty good for you as well, I tried for a while to eat raw rice (As there is no way I'm carting around cooking gear). Now, I usually pride myself on the fact that I will and can eat most anything, but even I couldn't stomach raw rice in any great quantity (Tastes sort of like eating chalk). So I guess it's back to Muesli then.
Where have I slept recently (Not in chronological order)
1. 2 x Camping sites
2. 1 x Wooden area beside the side of the road
3. 1 x Camping site strictly for mobile homes (Some nice elderly Germans let me set up a tent on their allotmént)
The Germans on at the mobile home place were pretty cool, and they taught me a bunch of German to boot. I can now form actual sentences in German, rather than being limited to "Hello", "Goodbye", "Yes", "No" and "Thank You". This is rather helpful as rather than going up to random Germans and spitting out the name of the place or facilty I'm looking for like some mentally handicapped person with tourettes, I can now form actual sentences asking them for the location of said place.
Now that I've stopped to actually look at where I'm at, I've found that I've actually passed the halfway mark and are almost to my destination. around 4 or 5 more days and I should be in The Netherlands. Should be good as I've gotten fairly sick of Germany (I get pretty sick of any country that I become overly familar with).
We'll see how much distance I can cover today, and I may update things in the next day or two.