Day 3 – Monday 13 June (Pfingsten Bank Holiday), Bayreuth to Lichtenfels
After a good night’s sleep we went down to breakfast and enjoyed a vast variety of goodies. They had even painted happy faces on the boiled eggs!
We paid our bill and were presented with a jar of jam (apparently our hotel was a Marmeladen-Hotel) which James seemed willing to carry. A glass jar, quite large, full of jam, isn’t exactly lightweight for cycle touring.
We set off, instantly being glad that I had prepared the route on my Garmin. There were various cycle path signs but it wasn’t always clear which path they were for, as there are several that criss-cross Bayreuth. Sometimes the Main Radweg route was the less obvious option. With my trusty Garmin, however, we found our way out of Bayreuth and started out.
Here we are crossing the Roter Main, one of the two rivers (the other is the Weisser Main) that make up the river.
And a bit later:
It does look a bit reddish/brown, rather like the East Coast round Essex!
We pootled through Altenplos, Dreschenau, Neudrossenfeld (which had a very interesting building we couldn’t identify – we will look that up later), Altdrossenfeld and Neuenreuth.
The scenery was surprisingly reminiscent of Kent with rolling, wooded hills. The path was generally very good asphalt with some sharp ups and downs at times.
We stopped occasionally to look at the view or various roadside items – we were following the route of the Roter main (red Main); however the cycle route didn’t follow the river that closely so we didn’t see it all that often.
At one point we came across a giant granite bicycle which of course we had to photograph, including ourselves in some of the pics.
And as a recumbent tricyclist should pose:
At that point a chappie cycled up who we had seen on the train from Würzburg to Bayreuth yesterday; he was fairly memorable as he looked like Wowbagger’s German cousin (Wowbagger is a friend with whom we cycle and in fact with whom we did a tour of the Mosel and Rhein last year). Anyway, he took a photograph of both of us on this bicycle structure and had a bit of a chat about the route, stopping to point out a Skylark (definitely Wowbagger’s German cousin!)
He headed off ahead of us but we passed him within 200 metres as he stopped to look at a roadside memorial.
We continued on, enjoying the warmer weather (we had started the day wearing windproofs). There were occasional patches of blue sky but it was mostly grey cloud. The forecast was apparently for a bit of rain this afternoon so we were happy to get on the road early (we were turning our pedals at 9am this morning).
Original plan was to stop every ten miles as James hasn’t done much cycling this year since he had stents put in his heart in January and is still getting used to the saddle again. However, being a bank holiday Monday morning there weren’t any open cafés after ten miles and he was feeling fine anyway so we pressed on.
We pootled on through Langenstadt, Lanzenreuth, Oberzettlitz, Unterzettlitz and then arrived at Melkendorf where there’s a significant diversion – the Radweg takes about an extra two miles although my Garmin appeared to suggest we could have gone straight through. Anyway, the diversion went to Katzenreuth where there is the confluence of the red and white Main rivers. We stopped to photograph this, a passing German pensioner asked to sit on my trike (having assumed initially it was James’s, calling out “Junger Mann!” to him – James was pleased to be called young as he’s almost forty…), and James had a walkabout for a few minutes as seventeen miles in the saddle had left him with a slightly square backside.
There was a pretty bridge over the now-joined rivers and the route then carried on on loose gravel which was hard work for me. There were two smoother tracks, one each side of the path for normal cyclists, but if I had my drive (rear) wheel in the smoother track for traction it meant both front wheels were pushing through thicker heaps of gravel and it was rather a lot of effort. Fortunately we only had a mile of this before we were back in Melkendorf about 100 metres away from where the diversion started.
After Melkendorf we passed a fishing lake and reached the outskirts of Kulmbach which is the largest town around here. We continued on to Mainleus where we felt it was definitely time for a stop, after 20 miles. Not much was open but we found a local beer tent with some seedy looking chaps who served us a Radler (beer & lemonade) for James and a glass of hot water (for a teabag for me).
It was good to have a break from cycling for a bit, although there was a rather Marie Celeste air to our surroundings, with just the four random chaps sitting at the bar and occasional cyclists going past very slowly on their enormous aluminium monstrosities.
As I got ready to leave some of the other customers struck up a conversation – was I cycling back to Holland? (No, I come from England); Where had I cycled from? Who went faster – me or James, etc. I chatted to them and then my brain failed and I lost what I was trying to say. I said “Mein deutsch ist weg heute.” and they thought this was an absolutely brilliant phrase and kept repeating it and grinning.
We cycled on, soon finding that some of the Radweg wasn’t lovely asphalt but instead concrete cobbles with holes in for weeds to grow.
This was very bumpy and noisy and slowed us down considerably. We also found the temperature a bit variable and James put his windproof jacket on, then had to take it off and put on an extra jersey instead.
We passed loads of fields that were full of poppies and cornflowers.
We went through Willmersreuth and skirted along the edge of Mainroth, then found a barrier across the path at Mainklein and a sign “Radfahrer absteigen” (cyclists dismount). This was because there was some kind of street event on with beer and sausage for sale. We walked through and then got back on the bikes past the next barrier.
We went past Theisau and then into Altenkunstadt which had a McDonalds (which we avoided, of course). As we were going up the hill towards Strossendorf we caught up with Wowbagger’s German Cousin again. James and I decided to stop for lunch and turned in to a barn with beer signs outside, as did Wow’s German cousin. There were a few people sitting at tables – the man and woman who work there and a lady who struck up a conversation with us. The lady told us that she came to Germany from Kenya in 1972 and chatted for a long time about life over here, being black and English-speaking amongst white Germans who spoke no English. She spoke in a mixture of English and German to us which was quite amusing. Wow’s German cousin joined in the conversation and there was lots of varied chatter about why I spoke German with a Dutch accent (do I?) and how hilly this route was, and the fact that there was a kind of Skyride thing going on 5km away today where the roads are closed to traffic and it’s just for cyclists and roller skaters, which explains why we haven’t seen as many cyclists on our route as I had suspected.
We ordered food – I had a Currywurst and James Bratwurst.
It was an exceptional value meal, washed down with beer/orange juice. Wow’s German cousin talked to us about where we were going – he’s not staying in the same places as us and is doing fewer miles per day but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him again.
James enjoyed an ice cream for dessert and then it was time to continue on the final ten miles to Lichtenfels.
This involved a bit of road with a chevron or two (denoting steepness) at Burgstall. Annoyingly, when descending the steep bit I missed a turning; I tried to indicate it to James in time but failed so he, too, sailed past. We had to turn round and go back to that turning which was to a rather bad bit of path through a forest, lots of gravel and rutted earth and a mosquito that bit me. This path was a couple of miles and it was particularly hard going on the trike, although having the weight of my panniers on the back certainly helped with the traction. Fortunately before too long we were back on an asphalted road going through Hochstadt.
The cycle route now seemed more popular with quite a lot of people out and about. The temperature seemed to change frequently; when James stopped to oil his pedal I got a bit warm, whereas five minutes later in a shadowy bit I got quite cold.
Some local youths overtook us after Schwürbitz when we weren’t paying attention. They were on mountain bikes or shoppers, one of which appeared to have never seen any chain oil, and I felt it was a bad show that they’d got passed me so pursued them and overtook them. I of course had to wait at the next cycle path junction for James so that he knew which way to go and they overtook me again. We caught up with them when they’d stopped at a junction for a chinwag, and so it continued with us overtaking each other. We, however, were laden with panniers and had already done 35 miles so when our routes finally diverged and they were ahead, I didn’t feel too bad about it.
There were a few tiny spots of rain as we cycled on towards Lichtenfels but nothing too troubling. We went through Michelau but didn’t see Wowbagger’s German cousin (he was staying overnight there, he said). We cycled past a Lido and there was a sign on the road warning cars to be aware of swimmers, which seemed a bit weird. They were advertising hiring of various boats which seemed a nice idea but we pedalled on, through Oberwallstadt and finally into Lichtenfels. It was a fairly uphill push into Lichtenfels but the end was in sight, and we pulled up at the Hotel Krone (which is next to a casino and a drinks supermarket). As we were locking up the bikes some English people walked past and said hello (presumably the flag gave us away). We checked in to our decent room.
I then had to decide whether or not to make the effort to visit Vierzehnheiligen which is only three miles away but up a VERY steep hill. Andy in Sigmaringen (from CycleChat) told me I really ought to visit it when I was in Germany before, and I was so near that it felt feeble not to give it a go.
James decided to stay behind and do some washing and have a rest as today’s 40 miles was more than he had done for a long time. I set off with just some spare tools and the camera in my pannier to make it less effort when climbing the hill.
The ride to Vierzehnheiligen was lovely as it was a pilgrim’s walking path with no car traffic (bikes were allowed).
Initially it was a fairly gentle slope up but eventually I joined the road again which had coaches and buses. It was pretty steep so I was in my granny ring and I had half a mile of this but I managed it without my heart rate going above 170bpm. At the top is a basilica so I photographed that to prove I’d been there, had a look at the view and then whizzed down again.
Unfortunately I slightly overshot my turn-off onto the Pilgrim’s Path and had to turn round and go up the hill again – in my highest gear! I managed the 50 metres and then was in the lovely, swooping downhill again. I managed my fastest speed of the year on this bit of the route – 42.5mph.
I got back to the hotel in about a quarter of the time it’d taken me to get to Vierzehnheiligen. That was 44.5 miles for the day for me, 39.5 for James (who was fast asleep when I got back to the hotel).
The Hotel Krone was very pleasant and has an attached Italian restaurant which we went to for our dinner – huge pizzas, very tasty, and good energy food for tired cyclists!
Statistics for today for main ride Bayreuth to Lichtenfels:
Moving time: 4 hours 22 minutes
Moving average: 9 mph
Maximum speed: 31.57 mph
Calories burned: 1513
Maximum heart rate: 172
Average heart rate: 112
Extra ride to Vierzehnheiligen:
Moving time: 37 minutes
Moving average: 7.79 mph
Maximum speed: 42.97 mph
Calories burned: 303
Maximum heart rate: 172
Average heart rate: 130