Biking Germany Journeying The Italian Job

From the doorway of an Augsburg launderette

Launderette Augsburg
Written by Kirstie Pelling
Launderette Augsburg

A dilemma in the doorway of the Augsburg launderette

Outside the launderette

From the doorway of a launderette; the church bells ring, chiming the quarter hour, the half hour, and eventually the hour. People drive by, waving to their friends in the surrounding bars; they wave back, happily supping a morning pint of beer. A mouse scuttles into the drain beneath me.  A pigeon pecks at scraps and somewhere a siren screams. A skater passes, wobbling, his wheels whirring just like my washing. I peer in to see if it’s finished its cycle. But I can’t get to it. There’s a door between me and my washing.

Glass upon glass. I am stranded in this doorway, unable to go anywhere. Stuart’s cycle grots, my minging socks and an assortment of dirty T shirts have trapped me outside a city launderette in Augsberg. We should be half way to Landsberg am Lech by now. If we ever thought we were in control of our own universe, the last two days have been a reminder that we are not.

Out of control

Yesterday, aware that we were behind but not yet out of the game in terms of making it to Venice on time, we put in a long hard day of cycling, heading for the third largest city in Bavaria. Only fifteen kilometres from our destination, a scream went up from my stoker; his fingers were trapped in the chain of my bike. The chain wheel had sliced the skin off the tips of two fingers. On the quiet country path the mosquitoes smelt the blood and moved in for dinner. Our efforts at first aid were enough to get us here, all of us running on adrenaline.

Cycle injury - hand caught in chain

The injury to Matthew’s finger is fortunately not so bad as his screams made us fear

A case of early closing?

This morning we set out for the local hospital to get his fingers checked out. We put some washing in the nearby launderette on the way. With the minor wound closed and successfully bandaged we returned for our washing to find the launderette firmly locked. A sign told us the door mechanism shuts automatically at 22.00. Perhaps it was faulty and shut early?  Or was never meant to open on a Sunday at all ? We waited around hoping an attendant would come back from lunch, trying to see a phone number on the wall inside through the zoom lens on the camera, like desperate paparazzi.

Waiting at the fountain in Augsburg

We wait and play and wait but really have to make a decision

Should we stay or should we go?

The church bells chime another hour, Stuart and the kids go for a walk, and I sit, alone. I consider our dilemma. If we stay we will lose a full days riding, and probably compromise our chances of making Venice on time.

Do I want to blow our goal for a machine load of dirty washing? Am I shallow for even considering this? But if we leave the city today, we lose most of our clothes.

Clothes are just stuff right?

Even if we stay will the launderette open tomorrow? Are my clothes really necessary? Can we get over the Alps easier without them? Can I really spend three weeks in one outfit? I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland. From my launderette step I can see the keyhole, but I can’t do anything to open the lock.

Twitter shall decide our fate

The church bell chimes the quarter hour. Another siren blasts. The dilemma becomes more urgent. Stuart returns and kicks the door. He puts the question out to the Twitterverse. Stay or go? They say go. Ride like Lady Godiva. So we do.


About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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