Cycling East part 3 – East Germany

After more cherry poaching at our campsite we set off along the shores of the giant Edersee lake in central Germany. Whereafter we inadvertantly ended up on a mountain bike trail in a stunning old beech forest. The shortcut was marked as a track but instead was a section of sweet and narrow singletrack perched on a steep bank above the lake. Marion was not too impressed as the narrow road tyres drifted on the leaves precariously close to the edge! 20140706162626_IMG_2144_1
Back at the lake again we detoured to Waldeck castle perched prominently on a hill. The ride up was steep, we were too principled and tight to pay for the cable car option! The castle offered dramatic vistas under what had become a darkened sky.20140707092524_IMG_2195
This was the day the weather was due to break. We spent the day meandering along, the long and winding road through corn fields, strawberry fields, historic cities like Fritzlar, laden cherry trees and soaring black kites. 20140706121258_IMG_2085
In Hombergshasen we also stumbled upon the friendliest farmer in Germany. While riding through the quiet lanes I spotted an out of place circus marquee so we detoured into the field to investigate on a magical mystery tour.
I was imagining fierce lions and deadly camels to photograph, instead it was roll up to farmer Brody’s world cup viewing tent! He’d set up a projector screen with sofas for over 500 locals to have a beer and watch the game. He gave us a welcome cold coke and showed us around. 20140707134358_IMG_2231

Next to the tent was a London bus, driven from London and converted into a bar! He raises happy pigs making tasty sausages, I can vouch for this as he gave me one to taste! The local villages seem quiet on the surface riding through but we learnt there’s loads of community festivals and cool events going on. Big thanks to Brody for the hospitality, before we set off again.
We then crossed over the old Berlin wall line which is surprisingly far west here. The architecture ntably changed with fewer wooden frame traditional houses and a bit more drab. 20140707114028_IMG_2219
Finally the rain couldn’t hold off any longer so we called into a nature reserve near Bebra where we wild camped in one of the creepiest places ever. We cooked dinner in a raised up bird watching hive which was cool, but we decided it was a bit rude to wild camp in it. After dusk as the rain got heavier we quickly rode along the forest edge where we found a grassy clearing with two huts. We camped behind one. The area was alive with mozzies and big black spider webs hung literally everywhere, the rain had brought out moster sized brown slugs in their 1000s. Then on a toilet trip I found a row of large metal cages behind the other hut. Errr what on earth was this place?
In the light of morning it turned out to be am old dog training camp, but it wasn’t the best nights sleep I’ve had!
Next day the rain carried on and the riding was truly grim, each pedal stroke an effort, with more bad rain forecast we headed to Leipzig to stay in a hostel and be cultural tourists for the evening! It was also a great spot to watch the Germany v Brazil game. As it turned out the Gemans won 7-1 and the open air screening atmosphere was crazy. It was a great detour, we loved the city and the hostel let us dry everything out!

We saw the sites of Leipzig under grey skies!
bike in leipzig
The weather cleared up the following afternoon so we headed south to Colditz Castle. The place is famous for being an officers POW camp where many escaped. There was also a glider built in the attic for one attempted escape. An interesting place to drop in on, we also visited a Lidl in the castles shadow which felt odd.

From Colditz south the Czech border is pretty close. We rode to a funny area near Ringethal where the river widened and water sports were popular. There was a caravan park but no tents allowed so we camped in the field next door and paid for a shower! As business decisions go it seemed foolish. Next morning the rain was constant and heavy. The panniers and Apidura bags had reached their threshold and water seeps in. Luckily my kit is in dry bags but most things were wet. Marion got quite fed up as we hit the border. We stopped in the last cafe in Germany for cake and coffee, where they kindly dried our waterproof jackets and pants out! It was a long slog up to about 800mto the border in poor visibility in thick mist with our lights on and all reflectors out! Goodbye Germany after 8 days riding.

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