Sunday, September 7, 2008

Travel blog: Bicycling in Germany July 2008 (Day 5-7)

Day 5
Artern - Apolda


Distance: 60 km
Average: 13,7 km/h
Maximum: 50,5 km/h
Time on bike (effective): 4 hours 25 min.

As we woke up on the fifth day of our journey the weather was pretty dull, and an old German guy was fishing besides us. We started packing our stuff and made a cup of coffee to get started. I offered a cup of black power to the fisher but he declined and instead offered me a piece of advice on rain moving in during the day.
There were some clouds in the sky, but also patches of blue sorrow less summer sky, so we concluded that the prospect of rain probably was not imminent. The first objective of that quiet morning was to find some breakfast and 5 km downstream (following the river Unstrut) we found something slightly resembling a store, although lights were of and the interior bore heavy indications of the shop being set up right after the reunification and not changing a bit in the following 18 years or so.
We left the hamlet of Schönewerda, and continued down stream following the marked Unstrut route.

As we were following a marked route we only had to go a couple of kilometers before finding a spot where there were benches and tables we could use. Breakfast went down pretty fast and as we did not have to sit on a pavement or grass while eating spirits were high.

We followed the river for some kilometers more and the turn southwards towards Wiehe. The five kilometer stretch from Rossleben to Wiehe (pop. 2000) proved more irritating than we had expected as the road was made up of noumerous materials including asphalt, gravel, bricks, stones sometimes one at a time and some times mixed together into some kind of pavement.

From Wiehe it was uphill in zig-zag turns as we left the painless security of the Unstrut valley and embarked on the conquest of new hills and mountains.
The sky was stille looming with dark clouds as we went southwards constantly going up or downhill.
We were aiming for Apolda as our next target and got there about four o clock in the afternoon. In Apolda we refueled on water (clean water not the appleinfested variant that was the only option we had earlier that day), food, and energy.

As we were going up one more hill and leaving Apolda behind us it started raining. Initially we found shelter under some trees, lit a cigarette and thought it would pass. However this turned out not to be the case, and instead the rain intensified, and the trees offered no real shelter.
In frantic flight we rode down into the forest in search of more reliable shelter as the rain hammered down with increasing intensity. We got to the bottom of the valley and found the small creek there overflooding a good part of the road. At this point we were soaking wet and any shelter could do, so we dragged ourselves under some infosigns where we could just fit.

Standing there we were laughing because of the whole situation, and because we could only see to clearly how idiotic we would look to anybody passing by, as we clung to the sign with one hand and to our bikes with the other.

After half an hour under the sign we decided to go back to Apolda (pop. 24.500) to find shelter for the night and get dry. As we went back into the rain i could see that my gears had malfunctioned and that my bike was stuck in the lowest gear. However that was not the primary concern at the time, because getting out of the rain was. A kilometer down the road we found a garage where we could sit an hour or so until the rain passed and we could limp (in first gear) back to Apolda where we found much needed shelter for the night in the Schlachthof Pension.