Sandstone cliffs in a small, but beautiful, place where I took my last break of the day

It was another almost all day rainy day. It was the day when when my rear tire, damaged by a badly adjusted brake shoe during the first week of this trip, failed. It was a day when I rode B roads, the equivalent of US highways, all day. It was a day that ended with an act of kindness that left me smiling about what a good day it was.

I don't have many images since it was almost always raining and there really weren't any views that made it worth getting out my camera in the rain. The images I do have are from the few hours of the day, late in the afternoon, when it was not raining.

The view from near where I started riding B84

Wind machines on the top of the ridge in the image above

B84 where these picture were taken
Not all B roads are busy expressways!

I left Kirchhain about 9:30 AM, riding in gentle rain. On my way out of town I passed a food store and, wanting to confirm that I was on the right road, I rode back to that store, found a sheltered place to use my computer, then when into the store and bought supplies for the day. When I came out, the rain had stopped! It started again less than 15 minutes later. It was light enough that I didn't use rain gear, just my long sleeved jersey and my wind vest. It was also reasonably warm, about 65 F.

That road became B62 a short distance out of town and I rode B62 for the next sixty miles. B62 started as a moderately busy main road with some big trucks and got to be a much busier road with lots of big trucks as it approached the autoroute for the first time. This was not a section of road to be ridden without a good mirror! I left the road five times in the first twenty miles to let big trucks pass when there was bad oncoming traffic. I would have left it two other time but there were guard rails that prevented me for doing so. In no case did I feel endangered by the trucks. I just felt that it was more polite, and more pleasant, to get out of their way rather than to make them, and the typical dozen cars behind each one <grin>, slow to my pace and wait for a chance to pass.

I stopped, under the autoroute - it was a good wind and rain shelter - to snack. While there I noted that 95% of the big trucks and more than 75% of the other vehicles on B62 north of the autoroute where either going to or coming from the autoroute. That bode well for rind B62 south of the autoroute, and that certainly was the case.

B62 was great riding for the next dozen miles. In fact, it was marked as a bike route (R62 !) in that section. B62 was also very wet in that section and, about noon, I put on my rain gear. I kept it on for the next fifteen miles to Bad Hersfeld, a big town north of the autoroute. B62 was hilly, curvy, and just really nice riding until it got near the autoroute again. Then traffic was bad and riding not so good as it went back north of the autoroute for five miles or so. However, there was a McDs right off of B62 in Bad Hersfeld, and that was a perfect place for me to have lunch on this rainy day.

After lunch I climbed for quite a while as B62 went over a ridge. It was a big climb, but a gentle one that I could do at 7.5 mph on my loaded bike. That mean about a 2 to 2.5 percent grade for me. It was also pretty and only misting, not really raining as I rode up that hill for the next half an hour or so. Then I got a long gentle downhill as my reward for climbing. Nice riding, with with very wide lanes so that even big trucks could pass me without going into the other lane. at Friewald, bike were sent off onto a, brick, side road through the city. Not bad riding either and a nice change from that part of B62 which was busy and noisy. Then it was back to B62 and that great long downhill. On the downhill I noticed that my rear tire and or wheel was thumping as if the wheel had a flat spot or the tire had broken cords. I made a note to check it tonight. It is hard to deal with checking the bike when it ends up in a "garage" of some sort each night, usually locked. I've gotten into the bad habit of just riding it until things go wrong.

When B62 got narrower, I think around Heimboldshausen, it acquired a bike path and I rode that all the way to Vacha where I switched to B84. I had planned to leave B62 much earlier and use L roads to go over to B84 at Markshule, but that part of B62 was too good to leave. After finishing the day, I checked the route change. It cost me about a mile and, since both B62 and B84 follow rivers in the part I added, probably saved me a good bit of climbing.

Once on B84, I stopped to take a few pictures. That was the first time my camera came out of my, waterproof, rear pannier today. I actually was not raining and the road was even dry, so I put the camera in my handlebar bag. I rode on down B84 and noticed a ticking sound coming from my rear wheel. I though maybe the cadence pickup was hitting the cadence magnet, so I pulled onto a side road and rolled my bike while looking and listening to the rear wheel. The ticking was caused by a bulge in the sidewall that was just touching the chainstay as the wheel rotated. Oh-oh. Maybe I can make it to the next town? I rode fifty feet before the rear tube popped.

Well, that tire had had it. I started walking back down the road toward Vacha, pushing my bike. Then I realized that, just before the point where I had pulled over, there was a great place to work on a bike. It was the front of a closed used car place and it had a concrete - dry concrete - area with a low wall that I could lean my bike against. I had a spare tire, but it was too large to fit on rear wheel, so I had to remove all the stuff from the bike, remove both wheels, take the front tire and tube off, take the rear tire and tube off, put the tire and tube from the front on the rear wheel and put it back on the bike, take the spare tire - which had been serving as padding for my computer in a front pannier - and a spare tube - I have three - and put them on the front wheel and remount it. No big deal, it took less than half an hour to do that. Then I had to get the front fender, which really isn't big enough for the big 700x47 tire (it is a Conti TT and really about a 700x40 - the tire it replaced is a TT marked 700x37 which is really a 700x32) I just put on the front wheel, to clear the tire. That took some doing, but, less than an hour later, I was back on the road.

It was time for a break, so, a few miles later, I pulled into this opening alongside the road that seemed to go back into the hill alongside the road. There was no sign or information about what was beyond that opening. There was a gate that blocked anything but foot or bicycle traffic - it just cleared my bags - and a grassy opening leading back into the hill.

Note the bad tire on the pannier and the fat front tire on my bike

I slipped my bike through the gate and walked back into a circular area about fifty feet across that was hidden from the road. It was a magical place with beautiful sandstone cliffs forming a semicircle on the side away from the road and steep banks on the other side side through which I had just come. It had a display, like those in a park, describing the sandstone formation. I leaned my bike against the display, put a plastic bag on the wet grass to sit on, and ate my bread and cheese and drank coke while revelling the beauty and peacefulness of this place just 20 feet away from B84.

Then I rode on to Eisenach, about twenty miles away. There was a big, steep, hill, after Markshule and some more climbing before Eisenach, but those hills led up to neat things. The one after Markshule went right through the wind machines on that ridge. Really large machines seem to be grouped, in threes and fours on all the ridges in this part of the country. I'm impressed by the machines and love seeing them turning slowly in the wind as I ride. If they were turning fast, I be having a lot of trouble with the wind! The ridge before Eisenach was great riding through a beautiful forest and then a fine downhill into town.

I'd guess several megawatts at full power
Big, high tech, windmachines, three or four per ridge

I had planned to ride on to Bad Lagenslaza, about fifteen miles, and another ridge or two, beyond Eisenach, but the time spent swapping tires, and the riding in the rain, meant I was running late, so I decided to look for a place in Eisenach. When I first rode into town I was depressed. East Germany can have that effect. I followed, I thought, the signs for the center of town but found no hotels, so after wandering around a bit, I headed on out of town intending to ride on to Bad Lagenslaza. I needed supper - it was after 7 PM - and I needed to figure out which road to take, so I stopped at a McDs. I'm embarrassed to have done that twice in a single day, but my stomach survived.

At McDs I realized I was on the wrong road out of town, but the mapping software has very poor coverage of Eisenbach, so I wasn't sure how to get on the right road. I asked one of the women working there for help. That led to three women, one of whom spoke a little English, trying to help me find my way out of town. They were really nice, but the discussion lasted almost fifteen minutes and I needed to get on down the road. I thanked them, said I thought I could figure it out, and went to put my computer in my pannier. Then it occurred to me that there might be a hotel on my route out of town since it went near the train station, so I went back in and tried to ask the first woman I had spoken to if she knew of a hotel near the train station. She said no, but if I wanted a hotel, her husband, who spoke English, could come and show me the way to one. At least I thought that was what she said since she didn't speak any English.

I figured that there was some connection with a hotel or something so that there was some profit in it for her or her husband, which was good, and it would save me from another hour or two of riding. I also felt that she was being kind and I try never to reject acts of kindness. After all, I was tired, dirty (from the tire change and riding in the rain), wet and looking in need of help <grin>. Ten minuted later her husband drove in, talked with her, and introduced himself to me. Then he asked what I needed in a hotel and offered to lead me to one. It was a mile or so away - I had misread the signs coming into town and missed the zentrum (center) where the hotels were. The first hotel he led me to was perfect. He insisted on coming in and making sure everything was satisfactory; if not we would go on to other hotels. When I offered to pay him for the, much needed, service he said absolutely not. I got a really nice room - overall perhaps the best of this tour - and the good feeling of having been the object of an act of kindness.

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