Hambacher Forst – Aachen (55km)
25 riders. Average speed: 14km/h. Time pedaling: 4h00m
A bright full moon lit up the meadows occupation camp next to Hambach mine last night, so bright in fact it created two rainbows around it. Many of our group were hosted there in caravans, a roundhouse and some cob huts. We stayed warm, just about, but in the morning our bikes were coated in the same fine dusty frost that also littered the surrounding meadow. It was mighty chilly!
Gabor lead us on foot through the misty forest, as the sun breaking through the leaves, to see the other group of occupiers living directly in the forest. These activists have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure their presence in the forest continues and prevents the mine: tree houses, massive trenches, tripods and tree trunks to lock into, were all a testament to this. In the face of extremely harsh oppression from the police and RWE´s security, these activists are blocking the expansion of the lignite coal mine. A conflict zone in the very heart of Europe.
Lunch at Buir station was with an assortment of other groups who had gathered to also show resistence to RWE. Having eaten our lunch early, we rode about 3km from the town, back towards the forest to wait for the arrival of the Run for your life runner. We lined the track with bikes and banners and cheered Antje through as she held up the stone from Kirona and ran through [watch this moment on local news here from 10:30]. We then followed her back to Buir station, chanting and singing on the way.
By this point it had gone 2pm and we needed to hit the road to get to Aachan. The sun was shining and it felt good to have partipated in a great event with local activists and RFYL. However, rather like day 3, today might not have been long distance-wise, but it was a massive challenge. In particular because of the quantity of sharp hills we encountered, the biting cold that followed the day of sunny clear skies and the fact that it was dark for more than the last 15km. We arrived at Welthaus Aachan thoroughly exhausted, with about half of us feeling too tired to make it to Critical Mass, which we had scheduled to join. We were greeted at the Welthaus by lovely people from the local ATTAC group who fed us with delicious golash, salads and an array of sweet breads.
News of French police using their emergency powers against climate activists is not overly surprising, but nonetheless it doesn´t bode too well for our intentions to join civil society events in Paris. We´ll be keeping an eye on how this develops.
It was our last full day in Germany. We´ve now riden over 1000km since leaving Copenhagen and been on the road 2 full week. Our spirit is determined, but it would be no exaggeration to say we´re feeling exhausted.
ps. More pictures of the last couple of days here.