Day03: Stiepelse to Wittenberge, Germany: A nice day on the Elb

The sun was shining when I went down to eat my breakfast at 7:30 AM and it is shining now as I sit in my tent near Wittenberg, typing this at 6:30 PM. Things sometimes got a bit iffy in between, but it was the best weather I've seen since I left Prague.

It was windy, and chilly, but the wind was mostly at my back or side. I was having a much better time, and wearing considerably less clothing, than the folks I met tody who were bicyling the other way on the Elbe Radweg. I did wear my down vest most of the day. That is the first time I've bicycled wearing Mr Pillow-vest. I call it that because it replaced Mr Pillow which was the name given to my down travel pillow by my best friend Don Patterson. Don was teasing me about my attachment to my pillow. I had to have it with me all of the many times I rode to his house to spend the night, much like a child has to have their security blanket or stuffed animal with them. He was a really good friend, the best male friend I ever had.

Me, in Harburg. wearing Mr pillow-vest expressing my opinion of beer at local fest

Don died a few days after I flew to Europe last month. I visited him, in a rehab place in Spruce Pine, NC, several times in the week before I left. I knew he was dying, although we never talked about it. He died of congestive heart failure at 73 years old. I met him in when he was in his 50s and running the restaurant on Mt Mitchell. He had already retired from his regular job because of his health. When I met him, he expected to die before he reached 65. His making it to 73 was, for both Don and the many people that loved him, a real blessing.

I left Stiepelse at about 8:15 this morning. My night there was very good. In Hamburg, time visiting with my good friend there was so valuable for all of us that we stayed up too late and got up too early. It was worth it, but last night my body needed, and got, a lot of goo sleeping time. I stayed up till after 9 to do my ride report/web page and then crashed hard into a heavy sleep. I only got up once during the night to pee. Speaking of peeing, in this cool windy weather, I'm getting dehydrated beacuse I don't feel a need to drink when I should. I noticed this yesterday and today. I'm getting better at drinking before I feel thirsty on this tour, but keeping well hydrated isn't usually a problem for me.

Memorial to GDR border barrier

Map of this part of Elbe Radweg Note the three German Sates

The section of the Elbe Radweg south of Stiepelse is one of its nicest sections. It is a long section which runs along the top of Elbe Dike or right along its base. About half of my riding today was on or quite close to the dike. That riding is great fun and has great views if you are on or go to the top. It also is bit of a pain in the bottom since most of it is paved with concrete slabs. Those slabs are pretty well joined, but my sitting places still took a bit of an impact at every joint.


Elbe Ferry

The other issue with riding the Elbe Radweg is lack of services. It was good that I had a really good, all I could eat and more, breakfast this morning since I rode for almost four hours before I found a plce to buy food or a meal. I'd used my snack supplies for supper last night, so I nothing to eat before lunch in Domitz, about half was to Wittenberge. where I stopped for the night. Breakfast was so good, and the riding was so easy, that that wasn't a big deal, but I started seriously looking for food about an hour before I actually found some. It the process, I got off the radweg and onto regular roads. Those roads have very little traffic, which made for great riding, but, probably becasue of that, none of the small towns on them had any services.

Riding on B195

Radweg I turned on to Domitz

Just about to cross Elbe, but I turned on Radweg insread

I finally headed down to cross the Elbe - I'd been riding on the east - formerly GDR, East Germany - side and thought I might find more services on the west - formerly West Germany - side.

Fortunately, just as I approach a bridge over the Elbe, I notice signs for Doemitz at 2 km and decided I should would check it out first. I had a hard time finding a place to eat, but I did find a small bike shop! It had two things I needed: a new tire and a rear flasher. The bike shop owner sent me to a good place to eat, but they were having technical problems with their kitchen so weren't serving food ;-{. I searched some more on my way out of town and found a great Donner place with an Aldi - for bananas and bread - right across the street. Life is good!

I needed the tire because I brought only only one tire, a slightly used Travel Contact, with me. I thought the front tire on my bike here was a folding TT 2000 and the rear was a regular TT2000 with enough life left for this tour. I planned to put the Travel Contact on the front and use the existing rear tire. It turned out the front tire is a folding Vittoria Randonneur Pro, which has about half the wear life of a TT2000, and the rear was a worn out Contact. I replaced the rear with the Travel Contact, but I don't think it will last the entire tour on the rear. I think the Randonneur Pro would probably have lasted the tour on the front, but not much more and the worn out Contact, now the spare tire, would only be good for a few hundred km. Today, I bought a new Schwalbe Marathon which I will put on the back and I will move the Travel Contact to the front. The Randonneur Pro is a folding tire and it will go back to being my spare. I mounted it last year after the front Contact wore out in Sweden. It has less than 1000 miles on it.


After I left Doemitz, I rode B195 most of the remaining 50 km to Wittenburge. It is actually the Elb Radweg for much of that distance. B roads are usually busy in Germany, but B195 had only one vehicle, almost all cars, every five or ten minutes. It usually does not have a bike path, and does not need one. If you needed one while riding it, the Elbe dike, with a dirt/gravel radweg, is almost always less than a km away. I switched over to the radweg occassionaly for variety. As I neared Wittenbere, traffic increased and I rode the bike path, when there was one, into town.

Cyclists taking pictures of sheep next to radweg

Elbe Radweg on dike and at base of dike

Elbe Radweg on road

Elbe Radweg on dike

On B195 I saw lots of possibilities for sealth camping sites. I pulled off onto one of them - two tire lanes into the woods - for my snack. While there I damaged my tentpole/dogstick/monopod/bikesupportpole. My LHT has a small bag under the back of its seat. That make it harder to use the monopod as a bike support. In this case I jammed the head of the monpod into the space in front of the bag. Then I neglected to lock the front brake to keep the bike from moving. The bike rolled backward and the head of the monpod locked in place putting a lot of twisting stress on the monopod shaft. It broke at its top joint. I couldn't camp until I fixed it since it serves as the front pole on my tent.

Stork in field

Stork in nest


B195 near Wittenberg

I thought about repairing my bike at a cheap hotel I had stayed at before in Wittenberge, but decided that would difficult to do. I figured it would be easier, and cheaper ;-}, to repair that stick in the woods and then use it with my tent, so I rode a little ways into Wittenberge and stopped to get some food and drink. Then I ate at the McDs that is right at the north entrace to Wittenburge and rode back out along B95 for a km or two to find a place to camp.

After I found a good place, I figured out how long the stick had to be for a new mounting method on the bike - the old one wouldn't work any more - fixed it with friction tape at that length and Shoe Gooed it together. Then I Shoe Gooed my new rear light the rack, and set up camp. I'm only 100 feet or so from B95, but there is no way anyone can see me from B95 or the 'road' I used to get off of B95. So far it has been very peaceful here, and it is nice to know that breakfast is only a km or two way in the morning ;-}. It is, at 8 PM, beginning to get a little chilly in my tent, but I don't think it will get below 50 or so tonight.