Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Wompin Ride to the Czech Border


I had such a good time bike riding on Saturday, that I decided I needed to do it again. A while ago Dave did this ride that takes you almost to the Czech border while visiting all kinds of tiny little villages along the while. The route would involve all types of terrain, winding and twisting through the country side. Now Dave is a gadget guy. He has a lot of electronic toys, one of them being a GPS watch that he uses to keep track of his running or his bike rides. Since he had done this ride before, he thought he had the route programmed into the watch, so he loaded it up and headed off for work. This should make route finding a breeze.
After working a bit in the morning I saddled up Lisa's mountain bike. This is slightly small for me and has the added bonus of having almost no rear brakes. What better vehicle for exploring the darkest corners of East Germany? As an extra precaution I stopped by the bike shop and picked up an extra patch case since I had used up the patches from the previous day. Okay, map, patches, watch, food, water. I'm good to do. Dave suggested that I start out by taking one of the trails in the forest just North of Dresden. I thought that would be okay, since I had the watch and it basically told me where the suggested trail was.
So off I set, boldly going through the woods. Except, every now and then I would come to a big ravine that I would have to cross. Or, I would encounter a big log crossing the trail. Or, the damn trail would just disappear. I wasn't exactly lost, but I wasn't making much progress. But, I did have the watch and I was able to zig-zag my way towards the "real" trail.
After about an hour or so lost in the woods, I managed to find the route. Damn, I had only managed to make 1km on my route for an hour of work. Not a good start.
Quickly, I found the route and started heading up stream from Dresden. Now, I wasn't having a good deal of luck following the route. Often I would be hundreds of meters off course for no known reason. Luckily, I had a real map with me (Even though Dave said I didn't need a map!), and I managed to slowly make my way up the valley to the castle at Stolpen.

A Not Very Useful Sign Post Along the Way

At Durrosdorf I hit the edge of my map and had to guess my way towards Stolpen. I was a good 1km off the track at this point, but found a bike trail that went to Helmsdorf, which was the next town on the way to Stolpen.

Bird House Outside Helmsdorf

Finally, I saw. A majestic spire rising high above the country side. Uh-oh, castles are built on tall, knobby, hills. So, I put the bike in low gear and slogged up to the castle. After about twenty minutes of climbing, I made it. Time for a sports drink and lunch.

Lunch Break Next to the Castle


A Beer, Spargel Creme Soupe, The GPS Watch,
The Blackberry

After a refreshing lunch it was time to figure out how to get back down the river. This was supposed to be one of the better parts of the trail. I had a fairly descent map of the trail near the Elbe river and a basic idea of how to get there by kind-of following the GPS track. By this time I had come to understand that the track was just a suggestion. It was really telling me that, "Hey, why don't you go this way for a while?" So I would, and then it would say, "Forget i t, I really mean go this way."

After Lunch View of Stolpen
Only 1k Off "Route"

After many false turns, I managed to find the National Park trail that would lead me back down to the Elbe. This was probably the best part of the trail. A nice forested downhill ride through a nice gorge with a babbling brook nearby.

The Final Part of the Trail

This trail took me to Bad Schandau which is one of the last towns before you get to the Czech Republic. From there it was just a quick and easy train ride back to Dresden and another hot meal. Well it wasn't that easy, in order to get a ticket, you have to use these automated machines. The machines are electronic and have a large British flag so that you can get instructions in English. Except that it doesn't do anything. I could figure out how to get back, but you also have to get a ticket for your bike. Now I figure that that ditching Lisa's bike would probably be good for her, but it might make her a bit pissed off at me. So I asked a train conductor how to use the machine. She couldn't barely get it to work. After five tries she was able to spit out a ticket for me and my bike.
The finally tally: 7 hrs of riding, one lunch break, one train ride, 65.7 km of trails, stairs, roads, and gullys.

Dresden to Stolpen to Bad Schandau

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