I’m Trying to Cycle Across Germany, But My Bicycle Keeps Breaking

Broken Bicycle

I know my bicycle only cost £30 and that I made panniers myself, but when it started to go wrong, I found it desperately frustrating. By the time we had crossed the first German national park and the large hills it involved, we were pretty happy with ourselves and other than tyre changes and a couple of punctures, nothing had gone wrong.

24 german town

We thought, ‘Wow, if we can do this, we can do anything.’ Then the bad weather came.

23 storms are coming

During a rain storm, we took cover under the trees to cook dinner.

26 pasta dinner

Being the only dry place around, a cat decided to join us.

25 cat joins us for dinner

Then the world dried up and we started to feel good again.

30 sunset in the field

It was at this time, that we went skipping and found 3 kegs (15 litres) of discarded beer.

28 happy to have found 15 litres of beer

29 keg party

We were pretty happy and decided to celebrate, throwing our little keg party in a field.

31 give thanks to the beer

Due to lack of alcohol consumption in previous weeks, we couldn’t drink much beer. Not wanting to be wasteful, we strapped the kegs to our bikes and continued climbing mountains.

27 beer strapped on to bikes

At this point, everything was going brilliantly and cycling was pretty great.

34 relaxing on a bench atop german countryside hills

Then things started to go wrong. First my seat became more uncomfortable than usual.

33 terrible bicycle seat bolt coming through

Then the aluminium crank was worn away by steel, causing me to cycle for nearly 30 km with only one pedal until I found a very unfriendly man in an expensive bike shop.

41 new crank

By pure chance, a very similar thing happened on the other side (except with the pedal only), the side where the chain is attached. I did a quick duct tape fix, managed another 15 km and then spent a few more hours repairing my bike and learning how to set up bike gears and realign spokes.

40 pedal falls out

At this point, I thought my bike felt the best it had ever felt. Nothing could go wrong. Then my handlebars came off as we climbed to an 800 metre high pass.

35 handlebars fall off

Some Polish truckers help us reattach them.

37 polish truckers helping to fix my bike

It seemed that everything was going wrong all at once. Even my tent (which was soaked from a thunderstorm), blew into a pond while I was drying it in the sun.

38 tent blows into pond while drying

Taking a step back (after kicking my bicycle a few times), we sat down for lunch and I decided not to be bothered by these insignificant inconveniences.

39 food on the floor

Then, as chance would have it, we took a wrong turn down a hiking path. My brakes (which weren’t working) didn’t stop me in time before I hit a huge concrete step and buckled my wheel. I pushed the bike from the forest, hitchhiked a lift with the first car that passed and got four spokes replaced and my wheel realigned in the nearest bike shop. Then the lovely lady gave me a lift back to my bicycle.

42 wheel realignment

After this, the bike was great. It could climb the 19% inclines.

44 19 per cent incline

I could even cycle through a ski resort, I was on top of the world.

45 ski area on a bike

Despite all this, even the weather didn’t give us a break. We were ready for it.

46 more storms coming

And we cycled on.

43 the full package

Despite all of this and despite the people who told me it was impossible to cycle from the UK to Slovakia, we made it. We really did! Yes my bicycle needed the new pedals and cranks, but the other two bicycles were fine.

Difficult? A little. Impossible? Absolutely not.

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