Radtour Eiserner Vorhang Tour, Teil 3 Gdingen-Asch
Dag/day 33: Lichtenberg-Aš
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Erstellt am 14.06.2023
Gesamtlänge in km
Durchschn. Steigung Aufstieg %
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durch Ottocolor am 15.06.2023
Trackpoint-Dichte per km
Lichtenberg, BY, DE (560 m NHN)
Aš, KA, CZ (685 m NHN)
Sunny and hot, but in between at least two rain showers. Insignificant winds.
In the morning I felt strong and happy again. Today I would reach my big goal, the tri-country corner between Saxony, Bavaria and the Czech Republic and shortly after the hotel in Aš. I didn't doubt that at all. Now it had gone well for five weeks, so it would probably be the same way on the last day.
Today's stage began with a nice descent towards Blankenstein, which lies on the Saale river on the Thuringian side. I was cycling here on a panoramic road on the Bavarian one, which I had driven on by car in 1985, when a family member from the area (my grandmother had sisters on both sides of the border who lived both close and far apart) wanted to show me and my mother, what the border looked like back then. I remember they had placed huge banners over there with socialist slogans in response to the interest from the west. But I didn't remember anything about the panoramic road rising high above the Saale to Eisenbuehl. It was quite a slug.
In Rudolphstein I left the bike and walked down to the Saale, which is a beautiful river in a deep lush valley. On the other side is Sparnberg and I remember watching a youtube video where residents from Rudolphstein in the west stood on the banks of the Saale and played horn music for their countrymen in the east on a holiday, I think it was Pentecost 1978. The music attracted a few residents, but they were dispersed by East German border guards. No contact with the "class enemy" was allowed. I remember that scene had moved me. And I wanted to see the place today. Today there was a wooden bridge over the river so it had been easy to go there. But I trudged up to the bike again. And caught up (whut?!) on the way with a young hiking couple who took "the green belt" on foot, but only a short part. And the girl was already tired.
Back on the bike, I crossed the A9 motorway, Munich-Berlin, where there is a large motorway cafeteria on a bridge across the road. Soon I sped down to Hirschberg on the Saale and then an insanely steep climb (over 20\%) again afterwards. I can only manage these climbs on foot, and here even that was difficult. In Moedlareuth I had a long rest, first lunch and then a visit to the border museum. That village had been divided, as one half is in Bavaria, the other one in Thuringia. And it had had a wall to mark the division. No wonder it was called Little Berlin in American circles. I saw a film with scenes of the opening of the border and the joy of the residents when an excavator tore down the wall.
Soon after, Thuringia was replaced by Saxony on the ex-GDR side. Unfortunately, the roads got worse. And the air was strangely heavy and sultry, so it was wonderful when a cooling shower came down. When it was over, I made the trip's last cup of outdoor coffee at the pond of Sachsgruen. A couple of horses in a paddock behind me neighed wildly and heartily. Maybe I disturbed them, but I wonder? I guess they were just happy. Now the goal was close, but another stretch of patrol road and really poor sloppy paths after the rain made me change the route, so it was a little longer.
When I arrived at the tri-country border corner parking lot, a man got out of his car and asked if he should take pictures of the proud cyclist who had cycled over 2,000 km to reach his goal. And just then the sun came out again. How lucky can one be? Now I could document that I had arrived. Quite a lot of border stones, both new Czech and old German ones marked the border course. I posed as I best could, showing off my thighs. After all, they were the ones who had done the work.
After that I took off the luggage and lifted the bike up a flight of stairs where the path to Aš began. Well, that was a difficult Czech start. But it got much worse. There were only 19 km to go, but they took me a total of two and a half hours to cover, so bad was the once asphalted but completely destroyed path. And I took no rest. Just wanted to reach my goal now. The signposting on the path was absolutely perfect, and it made it extra absurd that its surface was so hopelessly poor. Of course, it also went nicely uphill. At one point a sign towards Aš just pointed to a slightly longer route, so I chose that, steeply ascending. Just soon after to be standing in front of a disused barracks or whatever, where the ground was strewn with broken glass. And then I screamed. Loudly and heartfelt. Biking was no fun any longer. And what was this? But behind it was a tarmac road which quickly led me into Krasná, a suburb of Aš. A nice young woman gave me water and a small cake. And said it was only two kilometers to the center. I had almost hugged her. And indeed. My troubles had an end. Hotel Goethe on the southern outskirts of the city welcomed me with open doors.
However, all problems were not solved yet, because the hotel manager did not accept credit cards, and I first had to withdraw Czech korunas from an ATM at a huge Tesco store nearby. And then she couldn't exchange the large bills the machine had spit out. Well, she drew me a beer from the machine and said I could pay the rest tomorrow. Well done. And Jacob's pizza bar next door was still open. I immediately ate a pizza and a strange-tasting salad with a big appetite. Shortly afterwards I plunged into the bathtub in my hotel room. Rubbing my body afterwards I suddenly felt really bad and went to bed. But soon after, I had to throw up so violently that I hardly made it to the toilet. And throughout the night I had to do the same trip quite a few times. Ugh! I suspected the salad to have been bad.
Fortunately, I had a rest day the next day. At first I had wanted to go home by train on Sunday, but couldn't get bike tickets for the German ICE train, and that was good, because I wasn't able to do much today. Squeezed a little breakfast into me, but it quickly came up again. Got some fresh air in a park where I talked to a guy who clearly had bigger problems than me, and realizing that always helps. I gave him €5 and he was happy about that.
I returned to the hotel room but could not sleep. In the afternoon I went down to the railway station, from where I was to take the train to Hof the next morning. And discovered that the railway station was blocked by construction site fencing. Was it completely closed? Were there no trains? But first a boy in Czech and then a friendly woman in broken German explained to me that the train was running from an emergency platform that was easy to find. I did so and saw that the departure time was correct. I even waited for a train to Hof before trudging back up to the hotel. No problem, I thought.
Actually, I would have liked to have made a cycling excursion to Franzensbad/Františkovy Lázně, a proud old spa from the time of the emperor, but I wasn't up to it and I also had a fever. In the evening it got better and I could keep some yogurt with muesli in me and a slice of rye bread with cured sausage. And I slept well that night.
The next morning the train ran as planned, albeit with a delay of a few minutes, during which I got nervous, because the announcements on the loudspeakers were only in Czech, but everything went well, at least until Hamburg, where the train to Copenhagen was canceled due to a strike among the train staff in Denmark. Well, I made it by local train to Flensburg with a change in Tinglev and food from the front bags. Around. 22.30 I was home. A lot of experiences richer.