The Danube: Passau to Regensburg

IMG_20170604_150215 (2)Monday, the 5th of June, was the day after Pentecost, celebrated as an official holiday in Bavaria. With everything closed, I chose to ride on. The weather was not ideal, cooler than before, and even cloudier than Sunday.

DSCN3811The route along the river was pleasant until I reached the edge of Passau. A “no transit” sign and a fence blocked the cycle path, and there seemed no good way around it. A cyclist coming the other way said that I could get around the hole in the path. No one was working on a holiday, so I ventured onto the forbidden ground. I almost did not make it around the dumpster that I found at the very end of the work zone. However, once I was past the debris and a tough push up the end of the path, I found smooth riding the rest of the day.

DSCN3812The storm clouds were gathering and the headwinds were wearing me out when I pulled into the Privatpension Eberth outside of Bogen. I saw it advertised in the Bikeline Radweg book as well as booking.com. It turned out to be a very solid, clean, and comfortable place to ride out a storm, and bicycle friendly. After stowing my gear, I rode into town for supper (about 3 km away). To my surprise I found an Italian restaurant run by a Sardinian family, and enjoyed a delicious dinner of soup followed by pasta all’arrabbiata. I got back to the pension just as the rain began, but before the worst of the violent storm broke over the village. It felt cozy and secure to curl up in bed and fall asleep while the tempest crashed around outside.

I decided to use Tuesday as a “recovery day,” because I had been riding between towns for more than a week without taking a break. Also, I observed haematuria in the morning, something that had happened only once before, when I rode to Eisenstadt. I rode into to town, mailed some excess stuff home, and looked (unsuccessfully) for a laundromat. I did some internet research on haematuria. I had already been planning to swing by the Army Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl on my way north on the Rhine, but now I thought that I should see if something was closer. The ARMC at Hohensfeld was only 75 km away. It had relations with local hospitals, once of which was at my next stop: Regensburg, 75 km away.

DSCN3813The next day, the haematuria reoccurred, which made me ride 16 km to the train station in nearby Staubing to take the train. The Straubing Bahnhof was the first railway station I encountered since Slovenia with no lift, ramps, or other accommodation for cyclists or wheelchairs. A pair of young men jumped up to grab my bike – with the bags – and carry the load down to the tunnel and back up to Platform 3. They waved off my offer to tip them and ran back to platform 1 to await their train. I was struck again by the generosity of strangers: these two clearly of immigrant status or stock. A violent storm came over us while waiting on the platform. DSCN3814The Regional Express train punched through the front at 162 km/hr and delivered me to Regenberg in pleasant sunshine, though the air was cool. Saint Joseph Caritas Hospital was only 1.8 km from the train station. The ER staff was familiar with Tricare Overseas (the US military healthcare program), and had me fill out two Tricare Forms. I was in and out in three hours. The urologist gave me an examination, including ultrasound. Everything that we could see was OK. He said that haematuria without pain (as mine) often indicates a tumour in the bladder, but that only cystoscopy could confirm it. He wrote a referral to that effect, and said that it was a good plan to get the cystoscopy in the “next few weeks.”

DSCN3817Emergency care is without charge, but the ER did not have a cystoscope. This brings up the point that when travelling, it helps to know what you will need to pay for up front, what is provided by the State, and what your travel insurance or health plan will cover. DSCN3830In my case, I knew that American military medical facilities were scattered all over Germany and Italy, so that I would never be more than a day by train from any of them. I knew that the civilian ER’s would take care of me, and that Tricare would reimburse any civilian medical care beyond emergency services. I had already had dental work and an ultrasound in Italy, all at affordable prices and reimbursed by Tricare.

DSCN3819I booked two nights in the Brook Lane Hostel in Regensburg, so I could review my travel plans and see this important medieval city. At the hostel, I met Massimiliano, an Italian touring cyclist on his way downstream. We walked through the old town together, had dinner at Pizza da Tino, which prepared authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. After the pathetic attempts south of Bavaria, I had found two good Italian restaurants in as many nights.

DSCN3821Massimiliano checked out the next morning. I walked to the cathedral and the Stone Bridge. On the way, I found a serious trekking store and bought some black wool socks to replace the cotton ones with holes. The owner gave me some stuff sacks from a box of leftovers. Now I have stuff sacks for my street clothes, and can use the zip-lock bags for something else. DSCN3833At the Freytag & Brendt travel bookstore, I found a whole floor devoted to maps, and two aisles of bicycle touring maps. It took me two hours to rearrange my itinerary. I swapped out my heavy Bikeline maps for Leporello maps to go up the Donau-Main-Rhein Kanal and ride the Main River to the Rhine and on to the Netherlands. This would get me to the Rhine sooner, and add another major river. Besides, I was becoming increasingly curious about the canal as I noticed big barges and cruise ships with Dutch and Belgian colours. As before, the haematuria disappeared. I resolved, however, to go up the DMR Canal. The urgency was off, so Landstuhl ARMC became my new destination. This would get me there sooner.

DSCN3835River Run 2017, change 1, sees me leaving the Danube at Regensburg. While I will miss Lake Constance and Basel this time, I will pick up the DMR Canal and the Main. After Landstuhl, I can take a train to Trier, and ride down the Mosel. By cutting the corner, I can add two beautiful rivers to the tour.

Smooth roads and tailwinds,

Jonathan.

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