Sunday 29/5

I repack again. This is becoming something of a theme and in this case it later turns out to be a nightmare. For the moment, however, it seems that I've got it all working better and I feel happier about the weight distribution.

I'm still a bit sneezy but not as bad as the previous evening. I wonder if it was a result of hot weather and not drinking enough water and resolve to glug more down en-route. I think and hope the sneezes will go away once we're moving. Jerry's leading again today, thank goodness.

Over breakfast I look at the map and notice that Colditz is not too far north of Zschopau. We have a chat and decide that maybe it can be included in the route for tomorrow.

We get everything to the bikes and prepare to set off. There's a slight hitch, however, to our progress: I can't find the key to the Capo. After 10 mins searching my room I swallow my embarrassment and get Jerry to help me look. We can't find it and I start to worry that the last time I definitely saw it was on the bar counter when we booked in. I check my damned annoying tank bag (that I am already growing to hate) but nothing. A pannier search is the last thing to do and we take one each. It turns up right at the bottom of the one Jerry is rooting through. A modicum of piss-taking later and we're off.

Its early but pretty warm already. Fortunately there's a nice breeze so we hope we won't cook so much today. We have ditched the original route to try and get a bit more South so that we can easily incorporate Zschopau and to avoid the motorways. We can't avoid them altogether, however, and after an hour or so of nice roads we're onto an autobahn to get past the sprawls that are Mainz and Frankfurt. The autobahn may be a bit tedious but its quite well signposted and the alternative isn't overly desirable so we have no qualms about clocking on some miles this way.

We pull off the autobahn near what appears to be a stereotypical German village called Rothenbergen, intending to find a café for lunch. Instead all we can find is an ice-cream parlour. Nice and refreshing but not exactly filling. Opposite is a curiously decorated old building.

Whilst sitting and perusing the map, I notice a town called Bad Orb! Now as we both know a chap known as Orb, we can't possibly miss going there for a photo-opportunity. Route dutifully amended, we set off.

From Rothenbergen to Bad Orb (and after) we use some great mountain and high plateau roads that alternate between tight hairpins and long, fast, sweeping bends. This is a lovely tone for the afternoon's riding. At Bad Orb we take the obligatory photo and giggle stupidly. When we see a sign just down the road for Bad Orber Passion, well..!

We stop for a water break and to admire some really lovely scenery. Jerry decides to make it a water out as well as in break and nips into the bushes for a piddle. I reckon the German police will be arriving any minute to arrest him for this public disorder and he prepares to surrender :)

We're being baked in our kit, particularly me. I'm bursting into sweat the moment we stop or slow right down but the roads are so amazing it doesn't matter. When we go too far along one valley road and have to do a U-turn and climb back up the mountainside, we are passed by what we assume is a local rider. He passes and is gone, I mean just gone. Not only couldn't we keep up, we couldn't even see the bugger after a few seconds. Amazing.

Not only are the roads top quality but so are the local people. We stop in some shade in a hamlet just off the side of the main road and pause in some shade. An old chap comes out of his house to go to his allotment behind us and chats for a moment. He speaks as much English as we do German (i.e. basically none) but we communicate about the weather, his broken sprinkler and his concern for his plants. After a minute or two he trots back to his house and brings us some icy cold, proper lemonade. What a top chap!

We look at the maps and decide that to finish riding by around 1730 again, we should stop in Coburg. Considering we'll have done more than 300 miles when we get there, that's progress enough for one day.

As we approach the town we encounter a group of three choppers. The one leading is going at a fair lick but doesn't seem to know that his luggage is desperately attempting to abandon ship. This lack of knowledge might be something to do with his tiny little peanut head in a tiny little peanut helmet on top of a mahoosive fat body.

And so we get to Coburg. It's a rather lovely old town with only a few modern bits, which seems slightly odd to me as I've a nagging feeling this is the old GDR now and so expect everything to be the sort of concrete monstrosity I remember from watching 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' as a child. Oh how deeply embedded the propaganda is!

We follow the signs indicating the Hotel District and end up on a street with various bed and breakfast possibilities, all of which seem closed, and one or two hotels. Again the 'Find' function on the GPS helps! The first place looks suitable concrete and grim but no one answers the locked door and after a while we go away. The next place is very Hilton-alike in a slightly not quite got-it sort of way and is named something like the Hotel New And Modern, although I forget the real name. To save money, we decide to share a room and one is acquired at the top of the building. It's a very average new hotel sort of room until we hear a clamouring and look out the window to see we are overlooking the local pool, which seems very popular at the moment! What a pick-me-up!

After ablutions and a quick beer, we make for the town centre for a walk and a meal. As we walk out the door we see a BMW bike shop down an alley. We walk half way in, briefly inspect a collection of bubble cars and an old petrol pump and then move off – we're too hungry to look any further. It turns out that Coburg is actually not just nice but is in fact splendid. There's a palace in the centre of town as well as a big square currently being refurbished. We wander about slightly dazed by the choice for a while until we settle for a restaurant chosen on the basis that the building looked quaint and the waitress looked pretty. The food turned out by happenstance to be really good.

We walked back to the hotel and sat outside in the half-dark drinking just the one or two more beers. Another re-plan of the route and my fiddling with the GPS for a bit meant that I could hopefully lead tomorrow without getting too lost too often.


Image of route

Mapsource .gdb file of track

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