Beelitz - Elster(Elbe) 91.5kms 595’ascent
Just when we thought they were gone, we started today’s journey with 16 kms of trees! (Exactly the same as Swedish trees). The most exciting thing was trying to navigate silently through the fallen pine cones which sounded like gunfire when run over by the trailer wheels. It was even more fun when they shot off like bullets (a fiver for the first of us to hit a squirrel – not a chance.)
At some point we managed to miss a sign and paid a heavy price. The track deteriorated into a sandy path which was impossible to ride in some places and felt like we were dragging the trailers through treacle. If we thought that was hard, the worst track by far was still to come. We had some forewarning from a lively couple we met on the road, who checked their route with us and then warned us of some gravelly paths to come. Hmm! The warning was mild – the track, on a scale of 1 – 10, was well into the minus category. It would have been a challenge for a mountain bike, with touring bikes and trailers it was tiring and frustrating. What part of international cycle touring route do the planners NOT understand. You have failed miserably in this small area of Germany. Rocks, smashed tiles, stones and sand do not constitute a suitable surface for most touring bikes. Twenty kilometres later we finally hit asphalt and flew into Wittenberg. It was here that we hoped to locate the signs for the next section of our journey along the river Elbe. They appeared, magically, in front of us in the town square. Buoyed up with enthusiasm, (it was now about five o’clock) we hit our new trail. And guess what? We acquired a second lady with a handbag who said ‘Follow me’. And so the race along the cycle paths began again! A much shorter sprint though this time, but just a useful as it is likely that we would have followed the signs in the wrong direction for a while. More thanks to ladies on bikes.
Time was now rushing on but we were at least on the right track if very tired (f………d actually). Two unsuccessful enquiries later, we were beginning to look forward to a wild camp until we met the second charming and helpful German. His pension was full but he phoned a friend and seven kilometres later we landed an exceptional hostel, showered and collapsed. Back on track tomorrow.