Day 13: Boltenhagen to Gudow

Distance: 100 km

Elevation: 608 m

Before I start, I would like to highlight the sponsors of the zis-fundraising-Tour 2020. Due to Corona, many companies refrained from any superfluous financial commitments. However, two companies did support me nonetheless:

    BikeAge, Bammental (thanks to Peter “Steel-Pete” Reinhard they have sponsored my Böttcher Randonneur bike)
    BearingPont, Frankfurt (thanks to Partner Jürgen Lux the longest standing sponsor since 4 yeats).

Thank you very much for all your great support.

In the morning, I had met Nicole from Mainz. She had hiked up the former inner German border over three months. Very impressive and she could give me some good tips for the next section of my tour.

Then I started pedaling to Travemünde alongside the most beautiful coastline of the Baltic Sea.

There I met Lars, an old friend whom I know sine 20 years or so. He had come down from his family vacation on Fehmarn to accompany me for a day. Together, we started cycling southbound.

The great thing with old friends like Lars, is that you can always reconnect effortlessly whenever and wherever you meet.

Together, we took the ferry over the Trave, cycled through Lûbeck and later through Razeburg.

Then we met Elisabeth and her husband at the Krebssee, a beautifully hidden lake near Mölln. Elisabeth is a member of the zis Jury and as auch also a mentor for young zis scholars.

We chatted a bit, enjoyed coffee and cake and then enjoyed a swim in the refreshing and crystal clear lake water. Thank you, Elisabeth, for your invitation and for showing us this wonderful spot. It is a true gem.

Later, Lars and I cycled to the nearby village Gudow where we found two available rooms in a recreation home of the fire brigade Hamburg and a nice restaurant in the neighborhood.

It was a good thing to spend the day together with Lars and catch up. Let’s hope that we find time for the next joint tour soon.

Day 12: Rostock to Boltenhagen

Distance: 114 km

Elevation: 485 m

After breakfast, it was time to say “good bye” again. Carolin went off to her ferry to Denmark where she will meet Dörte and Androsch again for a short vacation. I went off, following the coastline to Boltenhagen near Lübeck.

I felt sad and alone for a while, but eventually the beauty of the Baltic coastline made me feel better again.

Rostock was the first city on my trip which did not seem to suffer or bleed out. It felt more Nordic than Eastern. The city is in good shape, there are loads of young folks, people have work and the overall atmosphere is positive.

All places westbound of Warnemünde are very touristic and crowded and could also be anywhere at the North Sea. At least, there is something going on.

I found a very nice and really humongous camping site directly by the in Boltenhagen. You can hear the waves and the sea gulls. Instantaneously, I got an emotional high when I arrived, something I never get in a 5 star hotel. Interesting, isn’t it. That reminds me of a line from a Bon Jovi song “You can get the boy off the road, but not the road from the boy”.

Somewhere here was the most Northern part of the former inner German border. Tomorrow, I will find out more. Also, I will meet an old friend and have a stop over at a new friends place.

Day 11: Anklam to Stralsund

Distance: 83 km

Elevation: 315 m

Today was a bit of a will test. I needed to get from Anklam to Rostock because my wife Carolin was arriving there in the afternoon so that we could celebrate her birthday together. I started super early and was on the bike by 7:45 am. The first bit to Greifswald was still ok despite of the headwind. But then it started to rain cats and dogs. To make things worse the road on the remaining 40km to Stralsund consisted to 95% of cobblestones GDR-style. This was a true endurance test for man and material. I was soak, wet and tired.

After Stralsund was reached, I boarded a train and arrived in Rostock just in time to meet Carolin at the train station.

Interestingly, my Brooks handlebar tape dyed my hands during the rain.

After some very necessary laundry work and a warm shower, we had a lovely evening together at the Rostock harbor.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate Carolins birthday in Rostock. This will also be my first day off the bike since 11 days.

Day 10: Mescherin to Anklam

Distance: 132 km

Elevation: 425 m

Today was adventure day. I got to “work” around 9am after some nice chats with my tent neighbors. all cyclists.

Then I went to Schmagerow, a tiny place where two colleagues, Anne and Hannes, live. They had invited me to stay over but now where traveling somewhere else because I am ahead of schedule. At least I wanted to see there beautiful place.

Then I wanted to find the Oder-Neiße bike path again. Sound easy, but in this area the path no longer follows the river Oder and is also not too well prepared. So, I managed to miss it and found the German Polish border instead – in the middle of nowhere.

My bike on the picture is partially in Germany and partially also in Poland.

The problem was, that there was no path. Not even a little one. So, at one point I decided to drag my bike through a kilometer of pathless forest to find a road on the Polish side. Great idea, very energy consuming though.

After cycling some distance on the Polish side, I crossed the border again and came to Blankensee were I found some cyclist taking a break with beer and water offered spontaneously by a local. Turns out, this was the former mayor of this place – and he had a lot of stories to tell. We also had enough time since a thunderstorm forced to seek shelter in a barn.

To work on my prejudices, I also asked him for his opinion on Saxonians vs people from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He said “yes, they have a funny accent, but if Saxonians would be living here, this area would be thriving because they are more driven and more risk taking”. That’s quit a statement, I found.

I continued my tour on the Oder-Neiße-Trail and reached its end in Ueckermünde. What you can see in the background is the Stettiner Haff.

Then I continued cycling to Anklam to the shores of the river Pene. However, the camping site in the harbor area was already closed. However, there was a small unofficial camp spot next door which invited me in. Turned out, it was much nicer and even offered nice chats with friendly people and a bottle of beer. The host asked me to share his contact information in case somebody wants to camp in Anklam. I can recommend it. 5€ per night. New record low!

Day 9: Lebus to Mescherin (Uckermark)

Distance: 147 km

Elevation: 191 m

Today was nature day. I left my lovely campsite in Lebus around 9 am and headed North following the Oder.

There was a lot of stunning wildlife to see. Wild Geese, swans, different birds of prey, rabbits and of course tons of mosquitoes just to name a few.

Today was actually the first day where I missed my drone – but as you may recall it got a little bit to much beer on the third day and had to go home.

Since it is Saturday, I did some grocery shopping. Needed to do a 10km detour to find a store.

In the afternoon, I cycled through the “Oderbruch”, a huge cultivated area alongside the river that was dried by building large damms about 250 years ago.

Today conditions were good and I felt like cycling a little longer, making it easier for me to reach the Baltic Sea tomorrow. Let’s see.

My camping site this is much bigger but very nice directly near the river. I paid 7.50€ per night, my lowest rate so far. However, WiFi remains an issue. Can’t always upload my video for the day.

In the evening, geese flying in formation across the sky were a spectacular view.

Day 8: Eichwege to Lebus (Brandenburg)

Distance: 119 km

Elevation: 264 Meter

In the morning, I felt a little lonely and reached out to some folks close to me. That felt good and gave me a sense of connection.

This morning, my neighbor Frank came over and brought me coffee. He works in Cottbus, a major nearby town, and came with his Jeep Wrangler and his trailer to spend a week of vacation here. Another nice person from Saxonia.

I packed up without hectic and hit the road. I followed the river Neiße with the Polish border at arms length all day. There was a bit of headwind but overall the conditions were perfect for cycling. I met a couple of fellow cyclist who are all heading for the Baltic Sea.

Finally, I arrived at the point were the Neiße flows into the Oder, a much larger stream. Very beautiful and impressive.

I passed Eisenhüttenstadt and later Frankfurt (Oder), Germany’s most eastward town. The last kilometers, I cycled through off-road terrain at the shores of the Oder. Simply beautiful but tons of mosquitoes everywhere.

My camping site tonight is a private garden and I am the only guest. Even a restaurant is around the corner. I enjoyed a decent dinner with a stunning view at the Oder.

Life’s pretty cool!

Day 7: Zittau to Eichwege (Oberlausitz)

Distance: 122 km

Elevation: 406 m

I have to make a confession: I have my problems with the Saxonians, primarily with their attitude. This is based on the few encounters which I had so far. The camping site owner complaining over the tourists is only one example. This morning at breakfast I was told to sit at a certain table with 8 seats. Then a elderly couple came asking me to leave since they were sitting there since 3 days. So we spoke to the waiter who placed me at a different table with 8 seats. Shortly thereafter the scene almost repeated itself with other guests. It felt like xenophobia with a touch of Corona to me.

This video (thanks to Nina and Torge) summarizes the attitude I am experiencing.

I was praying to meet likable Saxonians and TADA, a lady cyclist started a conversation with me. She was from Leipzig. She is into “wild camping” which I did not dare to do yet. We chatted a bit and then went our ways.

Another nice encounter was with a Dutch cyclist whom I met when we were both hiding from a thunder- and hailstorm over a lunch break.

My campsite this time is original GDR standard. It seems to be pretty much empty if you don’t count the people who seem to permanently live here. However, Frank, my new neighbor in a camper next door, came over to say “hi” and offer me some cycling maps from the area.

The camping site costs 8.50€ per night. The ward squints and wears a T-Shirt saying “Jägermeister Torwand-Schießen 2004 – I was there”. That has to be real!

Day 6: Meissen to Zittau

Distance: 132 km

Elevation: 1040 m

I woke up with a bit of a soar throat. That explained why I felt a little weak and breathless yesterday. I took my time for breakfast in front of my little tent on a very nice camping site.

Cycling alongside the Elbe is special. It is mostly flat and you can get to a good speed. Within an hour, I reached Dresden.

For the next 60 kilometers I cycled through “Saxonian Switzerland”, the marketing title of the “Elbsandstein” mountain region. There are a lot of very particular sandstone cliffs and rocks which create a unique look. The entire area is touristic and there is a good infrastructure. Villages and houses look well-maintained. Quite different from yesterday.

After about 90 kilometers, I took a ferry, crossed the Elbe and ventured into the Czech Republic on my way to Zittau.

I cycled up a canyon. For the next 30 kilometers there was some heavy climbing through a sandstone national park with absolutely stunning rock formations and a lot of pretty dead pine trees. You may look out for this in the video.

After an hour into the park, I was totally alone. It was a bit creepy because there were hardly any birds singing. It was totally silent.

Then it started to rain which was refreshing at first but soon became unpleasant. After an hour, I was soak and wet.

Then I reached Zittau, which marks the first turning point of my trip. From here on, I will go North towards the Baltic Sea. Zittau border crossings into Poland and the Czech Republic.

With a bit of a bad feeling, I decided to go for a cheap hotel this time. Setting up your tent in the poring rain is no fun, especially since I can’t store all my gear inside.

It felt good to be inside, wash and dry your clothes and have a yummy dinner.

Day 5: Leipzig to Meissen

Distance: 116 km

Elevation: 581 m

Today was tough and really hot. After a relaxed breakfast and some catching up with Torge and Nina, I left around 10 am heading East. It became hot pretty quickly and for a long time the landscape was flat or rolling hills without a chance of shadow.

Eastern Saxonia is pretty rural for the most part. There is not much industry or big business to make much of a living. There are some coal mines and a lot of lakes as a result of that. Some villages really were not looking that inspiring to me. Even in summer.

After 60km I finally reached the Elbe valley in Riesa. There is some metal industry here which means work for people.

After being at the Elbe, things got a little easier. Around 18:30, I reached my camping site next to Meissen.

This time, it is a very peaceful place. Time to cook some dinner 😉