It’s a cold October morning and I feel like I finally recovered from a long commentating season on the road when the ‚adventure‘ gene kicks in. A 7 day cycling road trip from Copenhagen, Denmark to Basel, Switzerland across the Eastern route of my home country Germany. A beautiful but these days rather secluded area with spectacular views and beautiful, quiet roads for long days in the saddle. Clothes are packed, the bike is ready, the tent folded up and off I go. Follow the road trip below!
“Ride Across Germany – Day 7 or saving the best for last“
It was a long week and while I had hoped for a bit more sun in between to enjoy the fall colors the last and final day riding through the Black Forest made up for everything I might have missed in terms of colors.
I had my brother riding with me from Alpirsbach to Britzingen near the Swiss border and we could both agree that we had never seen the Black Forest in colors like this before. It was the perfect day with plenty of laughs (riding in company at times is just more fun than alone. No matter how much I enjoyed the ‚lonely‘ days before), the views on stage with the most meters of climbing were spectacular and racing the long downhills through the turns on a touring bike was definitely a new experience.
After a ’short‘ stage of about 130 kilometers and the only day on the tour riding short-short we hit home just after enjoying the nicest ‚girlfriend date moment sunset‘ at the foot of the Black Forest.
Rather than writing too much let’s have the pictures speak for the last stage.
„Ride Across Germany – Day 6 or the day I raced the train“
Second last day of the tour and 2 things were for sure.
1. it’s gonna be another absolute beauty. Fall was showing it’s prettiest side.
2. I won’t be able to ride all the way as I spent too much time the previous days looking at pretty things. Or maybe I was just too slow 🙂
When I woke up in the morning the sun was shining and all looked very promising. The only trouble of the day. I knew I had to cut some of the remaining distance by train in order to meet up with my brother. The alternative would have been not to ride with my brother (he wanted to join earlier but got sick. Family life :-)) and to put my head down and ignore the beauty around me just to be able to say „I rode all the way“. 5 years ago most likely what I would have done but hey let’s be honest. I am riding a 13.5kg bike with travel bags on it and wearing loads of Windstopper clothes. I set out to enjoy the beauty of Germany and explore and get to spend time with my brother. Simple call for me.
The morning sun quickly disappeared and as I had no idea how fast I would move and where I could take a train (it was a terrible option of connections to the Black Forest) I still had no idea what train to catch or where in order to make it for the last train to Alpirsbach.
For now I was enjoying my ride from Tauberbischofsheim in wet fog and 4 Celsius but it was still so stunning, I didn’t care.
Fast forward 2 hours I had put my gloves away, taken the sunnies out and stopped at every corner cause fall looked like Indian Summer. Beauty and colors all around and 20 Celsius by now.
And thanks to outsmarting the Garmin againI also enjoyed a calf killing hike cross country up a forest losing more time. Who cares I thought. Still pretty.
At my coffee stop I eventually figured out a connection realizing I had to ride the next 50km with an average of 5km per hour more than my current trip average!!!
Full attack but yet couldn’t refrain from watching left and right and stopping 3 times for quick pics!
Made it last second and enjoyed a nice train ride to Alpirsbach where I am now sitting with my brother enjoying the evening and lookinf forward to a great sunny ride tomorrow!
Cheers with a beer!
„Ride Across Germany -Day 5 or the day I turned into a hiker endangering tourist“
Day 5 did not disappoint. Not in the slightest bit.
An early morning with terrible coffee that had been kept warm all night was my kick starter and got me so motivated that I decided to outsmart the Garmin by taking a more direct route towards the first propper climb of the tour. This instantly resultet in adding 10km to the planned first 10km of the day, a lot of offroad cycling and some extra altitude. Didn’t feel that smart anymore.
Back on track I made my way up a beautiful climb to the wintersport town Oberhof, overcoming a nasty climb and seeing some Lamas. For those of you who are not all that familiar with the animal life in Germany or had a sad childhood and have never seen animals other than in a zoo: Lamas are as normal to Germany as the likelyhood of Angela Merkel becoming a Victorias Secret model ( you may or may not picture that now. Up to you)
Rewarded by a slightly better coffee in Oberhof I felt eager to ‚attack‘ Rennsteig and the Garmin decided to strike back and show to me that it will win any battle I get into with it. Straight line is the word. After ‚climbing‘ some seriously technical single trail for a bit it allowed me a breather on a forest road until passing Rennsteig and then down on the other side. As I was hammering down the forest road yelling hikers out of my way (it was a joyfull yelling and I made sure to apologize on the fly) I thought the toughest bit was behind me and then it hit me (it being the Garmin again).
So there is roads around Rennsteig with signs for touring bikes, those with signs for shared touring and MTB, those for MTB and then those that are not recommended for anybody. Guess what!! While I was enjoying the hell out of it all my luggage, nutriton and so on played a round of tumble turns in my bag. What a delight when I opened them later to find that my carb powder had exploded and everything was covered in a sticky white and lemon smelling substance.
But the look on the huntere face as I was coming down the mountain out of nowhere through a range of bushes: priceless. His only question „are you ok?“. Glad he didn’t shoot me.
From there the joyride continued. Still a lot of altitude to be gained but no crazy offroad adventures. Just endless beauty, forest and fire roads and with a big bang the sun entered the stage.
After about 600km without it the sunnies came back out, the gloves came off for a bit and I continued my way whistling and singing on my bike until meeting with friends for dinner but not before just sitting roadsife for 15min in nowhere and enjoying a spectacular fall sunset!
Happy riding and more to come!
„Ride Across Germany – Day 4 or the day I got viciously attacked by a cat“
Day 4 of my ‚Ride Across Germany‘ was an interesting one. It started out with a beautiful sunrise above the fields – which lasted for about 10 minutes and would be the last time I see the sun for the day. As it disappeared into the clouds I waved goodbye and continued on my way.
Frankly my legs felt tired and I was already wondering how far I could get for the day as my rode made a 90 degree turn into the direction I would continue all day and bam – wind in my face – straight on with up to 25knots. A wind that would stay with me all day but never from behind. It was propperly blowing from South/West. My riding direction.
It still turned into an amazing day despite it being the coldest day of them all so far and catching rain twice during they ride. It was just kind of an adventure trip with bridges broken down, roads being closed, cycling through serious mud and enjoying more cobblestone than a Paris-Roubaix cyclist.
The ‚road under construction‘ sign was probably the one I saw the most today. Unfortunately 3 out of 4 times my ‚ignoring‘ the sign fid not pay off as the construction either involved a bridge over water or as in one case the bridge was even missing.
Eventually I mad it to Sommerda (German spelled Sömmerda) and found the nicest bike guy ever who dropped all his work to fix my rear wheel. It had taken a serious head and required a little more attention and so we had time for coffee and a great conversation about life with a guy that was about 140cm tall. Not a joke. My friendly bike mechanic was barely higher than my saddle.
After that I got the highlight of my day – Erfurt. One of the uggliest cities to ride into and one of the prettiest once you are at the center. I enjoyed some stunning old architecture and the best conversations of the day. One with an old man about his past cycling adventures and the other with some really cool grafiti artists. Cool kids!
After strolling around a bit I continued out of town a little furter towards the climb I am facing today, found shelter in an old horse carriage shelter and enjoyed a ‚mama home cooked‘ German dinner.
Highlight of the day number 2: the vicious attack by a cat. As I was checking my navigation I could suddenly feel something impact on my bike bags – a cat that had jumped onto it – and since I continued checking my route it decided for more drastic measured and jumped onto my saddle. All to be close and get scratched behind the ear 🙂
Let’s do this again. Day 5 is waiting and I am not stopping before I see the sun again 🙂
Happy riding and have an awesome day.
„Ride Across Germany – Day 3. The day I almost hit a cow and finally found good coffee“
Day 3 was kind of a slow day for many reasons. Let’s start with my top 10 of things slowing me down yesterday.
1. The gentleman who brewed my morning coffee. Very chatty gentleman in his 50s teaching me a weeks worth of history in about an hour. Anything from Eastern Germans mentality to why you don’t see a living soul in the villages throughout the day to the red iron sand stone they used for building all the amazing architectural highlights. Very cool start into the day.
2. The headwind. Apparently the wind forgot for a second that it is usually blowing along the river from North to South so instead it came the other way right into my face as I was heading down the Elbe River bike path. (I am not making this up. A friend called me yesterday to show a little moral support and told me about the wind. I had no clue before I started the tour). I would call it a slight ‚oversight‘ by the wind. We had a word about it and it promised me to change things for today. Let’s see.
3. Crossing the river 3 times. The first 2 times I had to wait a bit for the ferry. Fascinating to see how they navigate the currents of the river spot on! The third ferry of the day I missed and had to take a detour which made me loose time and instantly lead to number 4.
4. Taking the ‚missed ferry detour‘ I had my first minor crash in the dark. The bike seems to have taken a bit of a hit (the rear wheel is running all but straight. Feels a bit like rodeo riding now) and the simple matter of crashing in the dark even at lower speed juat makes the body really tense up. Not helping with the overall speed 😉
5. I finally found a good cup of coffee in Tangermünde that was so enjoyable and served by a very nice old lady who insisted that if I wanted to drink it outside I had to wait for a pillow and blanket. Well, if she insists 🙂
6. Tangermünde itself slowed me down. What a beautiful town. Just couldn’t get enough of it and just rolling around and enjoying all the small places, nice buildings and so on suddenly reminded me of my dad (who’s in his 70s now and would enjoy just the same things. That thought along slowed me down to ‚am I getting old‘ pace :-))
7. Riding into the night. Riding in the dark is a hell lot of fun – so much more by feel rather then processed information of things, roads and ditches you see ahead. To safe battery I rode on a smaller setting of my bike light which kept the brain alert for fast responding but at the end of the day it’s just a lot slower. It lead to a first and one of my ‚entertaining highlights‘ of the day though. I almost rode into a cow on the middle of the bike path. While I was wondering who on earth put the cow there the cow was most likely thinking the same. For all I know she might have been ‚going out to this spot for dinner‘ for years. I am just glad the cow wasn’t on some date, eating fancy gras in some high class grass dining spot. Wouldn’t want to interrupt that.
8. The squeeking / grinding sound on my bike. All the getting off the bike, checking things, hoping to find reasons and solutions took a lot of time. At the end I am convinced my bottom bracked is dry and grinding. Hope to find a bike shop and a quick fix for it today so it doesn’t show on the ’slowing down list‘ tomorrow again.
9. My legs. Let’s face it. They are not getting any fresher. It’s been 25km trail running race on Sunday and three long stages on the bike Monday-Wednesday. My bike weighs about 25KG more than what I usually ride on and it is blooming off-season. Ergo: my legs are definitely slowing me down 🙂
10. All the other great things to enjoy yesterday. Talking to random strangers who think I am crazy. (I believe every second gentleman really envies me and would want to join. May it be for the beauty of the ride or for getting away from their wives for a while), all the architecture, lakes and landscapes. Seeing Germany this way is the best way ever and shows me an entirely new picture of the country I am born in.
…and hey, highlight of the day: the sun made a special guest appearance for roughly 2:37 in the morning and then sort of in the distance for a other hour in the evening. Not enough though to even consider taking the sunglasses out.
Thanks for ‚being a part‘ of my tour and let’s see what today has to offer. I went from the Copenhagen-Berlin bike path to the Elbe-Havel bike path to the Berlin-Koblenz bike path yesterday. Excited to see where it leads today.
Happy riding and be awesome!
„Ride Across Germany – Day 2“ or „the day I became a horse“
Motivated by a sunny day on day 1 I was ready to hit the road hard for day 2 but I should not have complained about Rostock not showing any sunrise cause the area quickly struck back with some propper rain and then played a game of weather switcheroo that made me change clothes more often than Jennifer Lopez before the Golden Globes.
‚Ah what the heck I thought – if that’s the best you can do. I’m not made of cotton candy‘ but I didn’t expect the rain goods to join into a pact with my Garmin.
Force fed my wishes on Ridewithgps the Garmin was a loyal companion and focused on my most important request – no freeways please. Maybe it focused a little much on it or maybe it wanted to mess with me. What followed between Kilometer 30-80 must have sounded on the gps’s chip (aka the mechanical brain) somewhat like this.
„The annoying German seems to think this is my first time leading the way on a bike tour. I’ll show him. Let’s lead him from the road onto a forrest road, onto a gras path and then onto a sand path. From there I’ll send him on a hiking trail and throw in some horse tracks before going in for the kill and randomly tell him to make a sharp righthand turn into a field with no path for miles and miles. Let’s see if he is stupid enough to just ride into a field“
Well, I was not. The riding into a field was when I started realizing the Garmin is messing with me. The horse track I totally get. Afterall it’s day 2 and I smell a bit. That could just have been an innocent mistake by the navi thinking if I smell like a horse I must be a horse.
After loosing a lot of time on those sand and forest paths I continued through the rain and passed some of the most beautiful and scenic villages I’ve seen on any bike ride. Unfortuantely a lot of them totally run down and not a single sole on the streets or in the windows. I literally felt like in a post apocalyptic version. No humans to be seen anywhere and only the sound of the swings squeeking chain in the wind to be heard. Was I the last man on earth or is just what it is around here?
After riding a bit into the night I found shelter in Bad Wisnack – famous for it’s thermal and mud baths. Maybe I’ll try it out in the morning.
Lessons learned today: take a shower or the Garmin gets confused, heavy bikes and cyclist sink in when riding on loose sand and tents and sleeping bags don’t dry in a day in late fall 🙁
Happy riding and thanks for reading, sharing and commenting.
P.s. It doesn’t always have to make sense what you’re doing.
„What a day. Almost got adopted by an old lady, learned how to put half a pig in Salami form onto one bred roll and very much to my own surprise actually found my way to Germany.
But from the beginnig – while all the ‚busy bees‘ where driving their cars to work on the freeway I decided it was time to hit the road early. I wanted to give myself 2 hours of extra time to take pictures, drink coffee and so on. After 13.9km I had used up roughly 1.5 hours of the 2 due to watching an insanely beautiful sunrise and spending 30 minutes talking to the bakery lady about the US, cycling, Berlin and her son. The fact that her son is about my age and cycles as well earned the most stuffed Salami bred roll ever – probably enough meat for days – and got me close to being adopted by the old lady.
By the way – the shockingly bad pasta bolognese with potentially meat free meat sauce on the ferry later that day evened the level of dead animal in my diet out again. I believe this was an unvoluntary vegan dinner I got tricked into.
Admittingly the Mejerigaarden Bike Camp almost made me throw my plans over board when it appeared out of nowhere looking like paradise during a very, very hungry phase of the day but I decided there was no stopping. Afterall it’s supposed to be a ride across Germany so I should at least make it out of Denmark on day one. Right?
After arriving in Rostock with the ferry I just rolled a few more kilometers into the night and then finally put up my tent asking myself numerous times ‚why oh why a tent in October‘ (I have yet to find a convincing answer to that question) and now I am sitting here with my headlamp in my tent writing to you guys!
Happy trails and sweet dreams. Catch you in the morning!“
„P.s. Lessons learned today.
1. There are actually days in Denmark with almost no wind.
2. A 25km trail running race is not an appropriate rest day before a 1300km bike tour.
3. I do not get lost if I just listen and don’t try to outsmart the navigation. Who would have thought. „
Here some more pics: