Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 7--A Bit of a Gravel Grinder

Today's ride reminded me of some of the gravel rides I did last winter. We didn't spend the entire day off road, but a good portion of our 61 miles were definately not on pavement! 

We left Beppo's after packing up our, now dry, tents in the barn. Here are some of the barn photos.
These are the stairs up to the loft of the barn.

You can just see my tent to the right. Notice the antenna near the top of the photo. The reason it is inside instead of outside is because back when this area was East Germany (but near the border), the police would not let people have antennas that could get programs from West Germany. So, they hid them inside.

Here is my nice, dry tent! At first I wondered how the car got up there, but there is a ramp.

One of the Kühe.

This is the part of the barn that Beppo turned into a house.

It was misty raining when we left. We didn't have to carry our panniers. Beppo would meet us in Weimar at Uta's apartment. This was a good thing, in light of the amount of gravel/dirt (mud) riding we would do.

 After leaving the village proper, I could see that the views would have been great...if there wasn't so many clouds. Oh well, can't have sunshine everyday, or we would take it for granted!

We had a fair amount of ups and downs. We are in the Wald of the Thüringia Region. Interestingly, the villages are all down at the bottom of the hills. It's like rivers on a map. If you see a river, you know you are going to have to go back up after you cross it. Same with these villages. Down into the village we would go, then back up to leave. In the first little village we came to after Thimmendorf, I saw this water pump. It had a sign next to it that said "Urban Knitting".
Actually, I would say "Urban Crochetting".

After climbing out of the valley, we got to the top, and started another descent down to this lake. 
We had a pretty long descent. We ended up riding along another lake. There are three lakes--one upper lake and two lower lakes. Water is pumped from the upper lake to the lower lakes through a hydroelectric plant.

Of course, since we had come down, we had to go back up. There was a bike route sign that took us onto a gravel and dirt road. It was pretty steep. I said to Christian, this must be the Berg Radweg (mountain bikeway).

When we got to the top, there was a sign that said 9% grade going down. We would go sehr langsam (very slow). We didn't want any crashes today. Fortunately, the road was paved after a short distance. At the bottom there was, of course, another village. It was very small, but still had this church.

We came into Saalfeld. It's a bigger stadt, so, of course, we couldn't find our way. We had gone across the bridge below. Christian asked this gentleman the way. First he tried to give Christian directions, but then he just told us to follow him. We went back over the bridge. This gentleman was probably in his 70s. He had his basket of groceries on the back. He was not slow by any means. He got us headed in the right direction.

As we were riding on an unpaved trail, we could see this Schloß. Don't know the name of it. We didn't end up any closer.

We found a good bikeway, but Christian wasn't sure it would take us where we needed to go. We saw this "road". We took it. It came out to a village, but we didn't know where we were. Time to fire up the Garmin. I put in the next village we needed to go to. It worked just fine. We also found out we could have stayed on the path we were on (the paved one). Ah, but it was an adventure!

We went through the next village in the hopes of finding something to eat. Since we didn't have all our bags, we didn't have our food. I had 3 Snickers in my handlebar bag. There were no places to eat, so we stopped at an empty building that had a covered porch (it was still raining). I ate two Snickers for lunch. Christian had one, and a cookie thing.

Since we were in a village, to leave we had to climb. We were following various bike way signs, but then there wouldn't be a sign. In another village, Christian stopped to ask a couple of gentlemen. In the meantime, I fired up the Garmin and plugged in Weimar. It calculated the route. We started, and turned right. The Garmin said to go left, but I didn't say anything. We climbed and climbed to the top of this hill. There we saw a tower. We went to have a look, and the guy came over and said we could go in it up to the top. Of course, we did.

Betsy at the base of the tower. It was built by the owner of the land as a lookout for his wife.

From the top.

A Colleen-Christian selfie from the top of the tower.

The spiral staircase.

After we came down from the tower, Christian asked the guy for the way to the next village we needed to go through on our way to Weimar. The Garmin was still running and had recalculated the route. The guy said to stay on the paved road. Of course, we didn't do that because the Garmin told us not to. Nope, instead we came down a long gravel/dirt road into another village. Garmin was still telling us which way to go. After some map consultation, we decided the Garmin might know what it's doing. We were back to the paved road, and went through the next village. When we came to the following village, Garmin told us to "turn left onto unpaved road" (oh goody, more dirt and gravel). We had some discussion as to whether we should take the mud road, or stay on the paved road. Because the day just wouldn't be complete without another section of muddy double track, we took to the dirt. Fortunately it didn't last long. The descent on the other side was paved. What a nice long ride down that was (Christian is still being ultra-cautious on the downhills)!

From there, we found another bike way, where we saw the gal and her donkey.
Finally, we rolled into Weimar. Christian gave me Uta's address and I plugged it into the Garmin. 

Now we have had dinner at a German restaurant, come back, and chatted (Uta and I, and Christian and Beppo). It's late, and I must go to sleep. Tomorrow is our first day off. We will spend it touring around Weimar. Buchenwald Concentration Camp is nearby. I want to see it.

Miles today: 61

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