Follow our tide in real tine...

Follow along on our rides

I use an app on my smartphone called LocaToWeb which uploads our actual GPS ride in real time. If you send me an email I can even add your t...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back in Bamberg

We had a very tiring 10 hour, four train ride from Rostock to Bamberg. Because we had the bikes we couldn't take faster (ICE/IC) trains and I to rely on local trains (RE/RB).

We started out with an "oops" moment -- we had everything planned: we were going to ride to the nearby S-Bahn station (which we had scoped out earlier) and get to Rostock Hbf in plenty of time to buy some sandwiches and stuff for the long day.  Except the bike garage was locked and the person who normally opened it was late. Finally, a maintenance man showed up a freed our bikes.

Tuesday, we rode out to Merkendorf to Brauerei Wagner (Hummel is closed Tuesdays) and spent a pleasant afternoon in their biergarten. As Bob said, "A perfect 6 hour bike ride -- 45 minutes riding each way and 4 1/2 hours in the biergarten."

I won't post much for the rest of the week unless there is something unusual. You can get lots of pictures of Bamberg here or at

I will leave you with one picture, of the price list for Belgian beers at the new international beer shop in Bamberg (just down the street from Spezial). They even had a few American beers from Anderson Valley, Anchor Brewing and Flying Dog. It will be interesting to see if they succeed -- it is a large, prime corner location and I think you'd have to sell a lot of beer. The people behind are those behind the St. Erhard beers (brewed in Hallendorf but "from" Bamberg and mostly for export to Asia)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rostock and Warnemünde

Rostock is actually a bit inland, as good ports often are, so he headed for the beach town of Warnemünde.

Being a really hot Sunday about half of Rostock had the same idea.

I actually was surprised, it was a much nicer beach than I expected. It also was like just about every other beach town I've been to.

We stopped for lunch at cafe that had beers from the Marlow Brauerei (in Marlow) about 35 km east of Rostock.

They had a Dunkel, Pils and Spezial and sadly, except for some extra bitterness in the Pils I am not sure I could tell them apart blindfolded. They were all drinkable, just not too interesting.

We headed back to Rostock and decided walk thru the old town. Below is a panorama of the Neuer Markt

There are two towers remaining of the dozens that existed in the Middle Ages.

There also is a section of the medieval town wall.

For dinner we headed out to near the Zoo to the Trotzenburg brewpub. They had three beers, Pils, Spezial and Hefeweizen. None of us felt up to the Hefeweizen so we just had the Pils and Spezial.

They were a bit too yeasty but that often happens in the summer with brewpubs as they reduce layering times to increase production. But once past the yeastiness they were quite nice and we all had a second. The food was excellent.

Tomorrow we have a 10 hour trek by train back to Bamberg. With the bikes we can only take local trains.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 11: Made it to Rostock (Updated)

We were a little worried as the map showed lots of forest in the morning. We've had some nice forest runs and some from hell.

This looked to be a nice one -- up and down a bit more than I like but all paved and well maintained. It was a road (i.e. cars allowed), which probably explains it. Occasionally they had what we've comes to call "Mecklenburg Speed Bumps" -- a short section left as really rough cobblestones. Luckily, over the years bicyclists have carved little bypasses in the dirt shoulders so they weren't too bad so long as you saw them.

Then came one downhill, in a really dark part of the forest when the road suddenly turned cobblestone. We got down the side dirt track but at the bottle (were it was hard to see) was just a gully with a bit of a drop. Needless to say, Bob lost another spoke (as often happens when you lose one, you lose the neighbor as it has more stress).

The bike was still ridable but no fast downhills and no rough surfaces. The nearest bike shop looked to be in Güstrow, about 20 km at this point.

We came out of the forest and were riding along fields of barley. Since I might be drinking this barley sometime in the future, I thought it polite to take a picture.

Off to one side we noticed a depression that had a number of trees planed in a circle, with a big one in the middle. With 12 trees around the circle we figured it was some kind of sundial. Or maybe a Druid shrine.

We came to Güstrow and the first bike show sign was down a cobblestone road, so I left Bob and went to search. They were closed for a holiday until Tuesday but I was told there were two others in town near the church.

Well, there were two old churches but we found the first shop. We took Bobs bike and the guy took one look and said no way did he have that size. But try the guy down the street.

Well, down the street was actually next door (must make things interesting). This shop had none of the glitz of the other. Stuff was piled all over and some looked to have been untouched for years. The owner came out and first said the spokes where just bent but then he acknowledged they were, in fact, broken. He shook his head, went into the back and came out with a gauge. He worked a broken spoke out the wheel, straightened it and measured it. Grumbling under his breath,  he went in the back and soon came out with two spokes and eyeballed them to the wheel. Grunting affirmatively, he took the bike into the back room and much quicker than we expected he wheeled the bike back out and said "All fixed, 10 Euro." As we left, he turned the sign in the door to "Closed." We had gotten in just before his Saturday closing time of noon!

I don't want to make the shop owner seem more sinister that he was -- he was perfectly friendly but he was the kind of guy who looked like he was more interested in bicycles than the idea of selling bicycles. Just the kind of guy you want to fix your unusual sized bike. 

So now it was lunch time and the next town 20 km away so headed thru the town square and found a restaurant with a shaded table.

Soon we were back on the road. We were riding mostly along a canal and the temperature was rising. The weather app on my phone said it was 90 degrees in Güstrow and there was not a cloud in the sky. Bob said that this was a Florida sun, what was it doing this far north?

When we reached Bützow on our way thru town we passed an ice cream cafe. It was time to stop for something cold, so we did.  It was clear that we weren't going to make it the remaining 40km in the heat -- or at least arrive very late. So I checked the train schedules for the next town -- Schicewaan -- and in two hours there was a train to Rostock but then next one was two hours after that.

On a day not so hot we could make the train with no effort, but on a day not so hot we wouldn't need the train. After my experience yesterday I didn't want to push it. Then we realized -- why push our selves to ride 20km to meet a train that left about 2km from where we were sitting. So we ordered another ice cream and took the train from Bürtzow to Rostock. Wimps we were. Or rather, wimp was I as I think the others might have gone for it.

The bike car on the train was packed but we managed to fit the bikes in. But we had to stand. The horrors of standing for 20 minutes in an air-condition rail car versus riding 40km in the hot sun.

Once in Rostock we had about a 3 km ride to the hotel, near the waterfront.

The hotel had a fridge in the lobby and were selling the local mega brew Rostocker for €1.50. So it became our first beer in Rostock.

A forgettable ABImbev product but the brewery is on the same street as our hotel (which we passed on the way in)

Somewhat refreshed, we headed for the waterfront and walked about a kilometer to a place called Zum Alten Fritz. It looked like it may once have been a brewpub but now they served the beers from the Störtebekker brewery in Stralsund (about 70km east of Rostock).

They had 5 beers on draft: Zwickel-Fritz "Kellerbier', Zwickel-Fritz Dunkel (in the font) and a Schwartzbier and two Pils.

All were excellent, with the dark beers being especially roast, The second Pils (Stralsunder Pils) was a little on the bland side but I think that was a feature not a bug since the other was nicely bitter.

For dinner we all had a lamb burger with some kind of soft cheese on it. It too was excellent.

They had a number of bottled beers as well and we picked a few to try.

From left to right, Starkbier ("Strong beer"), Hanse Porter and Atlantik Ale.

The Strong beer was very, very good. Nicely roast and a good malt background. Sort of a "Schwartzbock." The Hanse Porter was bottom fermented to you could rightly call it a "Baltic Porter" but it was a little on the sweet side and at 4% was lacking a bit of oomph. But tastily. The Atlantik Ale was a perfectly fine hoppy American Pale Ale (made with Cascade and Citra among other hops). Certainly the happiest beer I've had in Germany this trip.

They also had a number of wheat beers, which we did not try.

Walking back we had a nice sunset over the harbor...

And we came across a statue that was obviously from "former times"

It was surrounded by a chain link fence and there was no mention anywhere of what it was or was commemorating. Probably will be a McDonalds by the time I visit Rostock again.

Here is a head on view...

Rostock is actually a bit inland (as many good ports are). Tomorrow we are going to the actual coast.

Total distance ridden from Bamberg was just under 700 km

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day 10: Waren to Krakow am See

That's Krakow in Germany.

It was supposed to be a short day, but we got a bit of a late start (had to fix a problem with a client). Then, while riding thru the forest, Tom noticed I had a clicking on my rear wheel. We stopped and checked it out and it turns out my rear tire had a cut in the sidewall and was starting to bulge. So I break our the spare tire and we replace it.

A few kilometers later I notice I can't get into my upper gears, so we stop and check it out but everything seems OK. After a while Bob noticed the cable seems to be pulled just a little out of the derailleur and shoves it back in and I have gears again.

In Bornkrug we stop for lunch and I had a wonderful bowl of "Mexican" Goulash soup. It was a well made goulash soup with some heat from chillis. Oh, and a Lübzer Pils to go with it.

Next my headset was knocking pretty bad so we stopped and tightened it. Then Bob's rear wheel developed a wobble so we stopped to check that out, nut couldn't find anything.

All this time the temp was climbing and the sun was beating down. I think I got a bit overheated so we pulled off into the shade of a tree for a bit. Once we started back up we eventually came to a golf course and stopped for a cold drink -- they actually had ice!

Back on the road, we were soon in Krakow where Bob noticed his wobble was due to a broken spoke.
We had a nice dinner at the hotel (Brathering for me) and a couple of bottles of Lübzer Pils (the draft beer was Warsteiner, of all things)

About two thirds of the trails today were paved. And the unpaved ones were generally in better shape than before but I seriously overestimated the general quality off the bike paths in Eastern Germany and it had made for a much harder trip. It is partly our fault as larger wheels have more cushioning on rough trails, but this is supposed to be a major international bike trail and I don't think it lives up to that.

Tomorrow we reach Rostock and then back to Bamberg.

Distance ridden: 55 km.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 9: Fürstenberg to Waren

The first 30 km were beautiful but a killer -- thru the woods, sometimes paved, sometimes not but always up and down.

Luckily, we were at the top

I have to admit, I tried it. 2% and 5.5% grapefruit juice. Not bad if you think of it as Grapefruit Soda.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 8: Oranienburg to Fürstenberg

It was only 80 km but felt like 180.
There is no internet at the hotel and my phone barely had enough signal for email, so for you until later.

The view from my hotel room

Köstritzer Schwarzbier in a Wernesgrüner glass

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rest Day in Berlin

Slept late, ran errands, did laundry (very important!) and played tourist. Very boring, so I won't bother you with it. One of the errands was picking up a cheap smartphone so the picture quality will be much poorer than before, but at least there will be pictures.

Tomorrow we ride to Oranienburg. Not a long ride but past history says we will get lost three times trying to leave Berlin.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 6: Jüterbog to Berlin

First the bad news -- I managed to break the screen on my camera -- it takes pictures but I can't see what I am aiming at. Since my (al so broken) smartphone was my backup camera, no pictures for me (and for you). I may borrow pictures off my bother's smartphone.

Around Jüterbog they have the grate system of paved trains called "Fläming Skake."  The region was settled centuries ago by Flemish immigrants hence the name for the region. The skate is just what you think -- these are trains designed for inline skaters (smooth and no steep climes) but are perfect for biking. There is also a large Rehab clinic for spinal injuries so you see lots of people on hand powered bikes as well.

Anyway, the first 20km or so was on the the skate path it was divine. After that they were mostly OK but some stretches where the path was basically overgrown and you almost needed a machete. One thing, once we got about 30km from Jüterbog the signage -- which had been great until that point -- basically disappeared. We saw the occasional sticker on a signpost and that was it.

We had the usual problem that even though it was Sunday, there didn't seem to be any pubs, cafes or even ice cream shops open. Finally at Mellensee we saw a fish restaurant and stopped. It was a good choice -- not only did they have excellent food, in the summer months they have beer from Pivovar Rychtář in Hlinsku in the Czech Republic. They didn't say which one it was but from the descriptions, probably the STANDARD.

Back on the road Mother Nature was playing with us. First it got cold and rain started. Then as soon as we put our rain gear on the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was way too humid for rain jackets so we stopped and took them off. Then it got cold and wet again -- you get the idea.

Finally about 4:30pm we reached the city limits where there is a memorial to those who try to escape over the wall -- I hope to have my brother's picture tomorrow.

We were worried about riding in Berlin but because it was Sunday (with some sporting even happing this evening) traffic was light and we sped thru town to the apartment we had rented.

Tomorrow is a rest day, if the weather is half way decent we'll go play tourist.

Distance ridden: 88 km
We are at the half way point!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 5: Bad Schmiedeberg to Jüterbog

A long day today -- 85km -- and we started off with slightly better trains than yesterday but still pretty crappy. Then we crossed the border into Sachsen-Anhalt and it was like night and day -- paved, well maintained paths -- even thru the forest.

The internet service at the hotel is very slow so I may not upload pictures until later.

Distance ridden: 85 km

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 4: Leipzig to Bad Schmiedeberg

I'm not sure, but I think today was the single worst day of riding that I can remember. 

First we had problems getting out of Leipzig and we ended up riding about 6km extra.

Once we got on the Leipzig - Berlin bike path things went well -- the path was well marked once outside the city center.

We had some fierce headwinds, though, which sort of explains this guy and his brothers...

The day was turning hot and we went thru many villages but not one had any sort of business open, not even a convenience store. After about 2 hours we came across a fancy resort hotel and while they didm't have a restaurant, the nice lady sold us some soda and juice. That with a Clif bar was lunch.

Then we were into the forest. I have ridden on trails thru forests in Western Germany and while not all are paved, they were most well maintained. These were basically logging roads, not anything I recommend anybody on a road bike try.

In addition it had been raining so the tracks were muddy as well. No fun at all.

Finally we came back to civilization at Bad Düben. The first gasthaus was closed but the second was open, so we stopped for a beer and a snack. Bob and Tom had the Ur-Krostitzer Pils and I had their Schwarzbier.

The pils was quite nice (though the context is important) as I remember from a trip to Leipzig years ago. The Schwarzbier was OK though not as good as last nights Schwarze Rosen.

While we were sitting it started to thunder and rain. "Oh boy, we're screwed" as we had 20km left to go. We headed out of town and at one point the rain started falling so we put rain covers on our bags (and our bodies). We soon reached the second stretch of forest.

It was hot with little wind and the rain hadn't really started, so off came the rain jackets. But this was the forest from hell. Muddy tracks full of rocks and roots and soft spots, all the time waiting for the rain to start. It took us maybe 90 minutes to do that 15km thru the forest.  Mostly it was the other guys waiting for me as I rested after a particularly harrowing run.

Finally we came out of the forest onto a gravel road near Bad Schmiedeberg. After 2km of that it was blessed pavement. A quick downhill run and we were at the hotel.

After some hiccups with the internet access it was off for a tasty dinner with forgettable beer. I left my camera in the room but you didn't really miss anything.

I am going to have to re-evaluate the remaining days of riding. We have a bit thru various forests and if they are all like this we may take some trains to bypass them.

I can safely say, don't even think about riding the Berlin - Leipzig Radweg without a mountain bike.

Distance ridden: 62 km, with 20 of them hellish.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 3: Naumburg to Leipzig

Not much to write about today.  All morning there was the threat of rain. We left Naumburg shortly after 9am and continued to follow the Saale River Bike Trail, which was marked with the sign below

We spend the first hour riding along the edge of the forest.

Sometimes the river was on our left and sometimes we went inland a bit and had fields on the left.

There was the occasional fortress up on a hill...

After Weissenfels we left the Saale River trail and headed towards Leipzig. We had a couple of steep hills thru the forest...

...but had a great view from the top.

We didn't pass many other cyclists -- there really must not be too many bike tourist because we didn't pass any open cafes along the route -- not even signs pointing to a cafe or gasthaus a kilometer or so off the trail.

We finally stopped for lunch at a Norma shopping center in Lützen where they had a butcher shop that sold cooked sausages. We each had a couple of very good garlic sausages and then got back on the rood.

Shortly after Lützen the trail ran along a former rail line that was converted to a bike trail. It was a glorious ride as it was straight and level and well maintained. However, it was a bit boring with nothing along the way except farm fields.

The rail line ended on the outskirt of Leipzig. We must have miss a turn off because we ended pretty much on city streets. With the help of Bob's smartphone and Google Maps we found our way to the Leipzig Main Station, with the rain finally starting about two kilometers from the hotel. But it wasn't heavy and just cooled us off a bit.

After getting cleaned up we caught a taxi to Ohne Bedenken, the premier Gose pub in Leipzig.

They have to Gose on tap: Döllnitzer Ritterguts Gose and Leipziger Gose from Bayerische Bahnhof Brauerei. Bob had never had either and like Tom and myself preferred the Ritterguts.

This is not so say there was anything wrong with the Leipziger Gose -- it had a good flavor but was less sour. If my local had it on tap I would certainly drink it.

They had "Schwarze Rose" Schwarzbier from the Rosen Brewery in Thuringa so we ordered one just to try it. It was much more flavorful than the Köstritzer of yesterday

Tomorrow we will be fighting rain again to Bad Schmiedeberg.

Distance ridden: 58km