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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Five Rivers Trail -- Day 1 -- Nürnberg to Berching

We got up at 6:00am to do final packing and to get to the train station in time to catch our 8:30 train to Nürnberg. The bikes were really heavy when loaded -- I managed to not bring the kitchen sink, but just about everything else was there. Train departed and arrived on time and soon we found ourselves at the Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof (Main Station). 

We were going to meet some fellow homebrewers from Washington DC and Buffalo and half of them road up and said the other half were running late and we should just go on ahead. We arranged a meeting point at the Ludwig Canal -- a canal built in the 1830's that runs from Bamberg to Kelheim. Our path the first day is basically along the canal. We followed a circuitous route (but well marked) thru the back streets of Nürnberg until we reached a park on the outskirts. The bikes handled OK with the load,  we just had to remember no sudden turns.

After 11km we reached the canal

Sign marking the trail route

The Historical Ludwig Main-Danube Canal

Fridays Loaded and Ready to Go

When the rest of the group arrived, we headed off south. The trail surface was loose gravel and packed dirt and we thought we'd eventually find pavement, but we rode pretty much the whole day on this -- not exactly fun. The other group was faster and rode on ahead, but would occasionally wait for us to catch up. After a particularly rough spot we realized my Dad's rear tire was flat. After much struggle, we replaced the tube and continued on. Luckily, there were no further mechanical problems.

The trail followed the canal, which on the map goes thru some towns and villages but we really saw no signs of civilization -- no snack bars, beer gardens, etc. There would occasionally be signs pointing off in one direction or the other but we were making such slow time on the dirt trail that we didn't explore.

At lock number 35 there was a little beer garden so we stopped for lunch and beer. The beer was from Stadtbrauerei Spalt in the city of Spalt. This is a well known hop region and you might think the beers would be hoppier than similar beers in the region, but they weren't. But they were tasty and hit the spot.

Fridays Resting at Lock 35
Spalter Bier

We had agreed to overnight in Berching so the other group decided to ride on. We slowly wound our way along the canal. The route was generally flat, with small uphill sections when we came to a lock on the canal. The scenery was very idyllic and it would have been a perfect ride if the trail had been paved.

About 5km from Berching there was a little snack bar so we stopped for some liquid refreshment. They had beers from the Augustiner Brewery in Munich and their Edelstoff is one of my favorite Munich beers and I thought I had earned it, so I had one and then we hit the road. A short time later we arrived at our hotel for the night, Brauerei zur Krone.

St Augustine to the rescue!

After a shower and so unpacking we heading down to the restaurant for dinner and a few beers. They had a Helles, Export and Zwickel beer on draft and all three were good but the Zwickel was very good.

Walking around the town we found the other brewery, but they were closed. But one of the locals said they open at 8:00am so maybe we'll stop for a breakfast beer on the way out of town.

Tomorrow is a shorter day, riding to Kelheim, the home of the famous Schneider wheat beers.

Total distance: 45 miles.

Berching Town Gate

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