The day when I usually would have quit: Bamberg to Eisfeld

  • Author: Katrin
  • Created: August 25, 2018
  • Updated: August 26, 2018
Route type: Mixed
Difficulty grade: Difficult

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  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 85.00 km
  • Time 5 h 44 min
  • Speed 15.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 0 m
  • Peak 819 m
  • Climb 957 m
  • Descent 459 m

Yesterday was the day, on which I would usually have given up my whole "cycling through Germany" adventure.
If you're interested what happened and why I'm still on tour, keep on reading ;-)

I started into the day after a sleep-deprived night. The hotel room was so overheated that I had to keep my window wide open through the night. But since the hotel was right at the intersection of two main roads, there was traffic all night long. Between 2 and 4 AM I was mostly awake and even when I slept, it wasn't as deep as usually.
The effect on me when I'm not getting enough sleep (or food) is that I'm grumpy. And I WAS grumpy. I became even grumpier when Edgar mislead me (ok, it was probably my own fault) and it took me forever to get back on my route towards Erfurt.

As soon as I was back on the route, I had to stop for at least 10 minutes in front of a railroad crossing because of a freight train waiting there. I used the time to pull on an additional jacket and my "long legs" but still...
Then I could finally get started.

The route was a bit hilly but not too bad. Quite often I got into conflict with Edgar who was disagreeing with the official cycle path signposting. Once I circled a complete neighborhood because my smart navigation "help" insisted on going back on the original route instead of adapting the course.
If I had been more awake and less grumpy, I would probably just have ignored his nonsense instructions and everything would have been fine. That way I collected some additional kilometers ;-)

After some more cycling in my grumpiness, I decided that something - more precisely, my mindset - has to change to avoid that the day becomes a total disaster. Especially since I wanted to cycle a longer stint as compensation for the previous day.
So I tried to focus on more neutral things, like the landscape and the nature around me and on the cooler weather etc.....after a while it worked and without the grumpiness the cycling also went a lot better :-)

My first bigger stop was planned for Coburg but shortly before I arrived there, it started to......RAIN. And not just some drizzle or some droplets but real rain.
I stopped at a bus stop for some cover and had an early lunch.
When the rain became lighter I cycled on into the town of Coburg. I walked around the town center a bit and it was really pretty but I felt still to fresh to call it a day.

I cycled on and passed the famous (well, apparently it is although I didn't know it before) Froschgrundsee (=frog ground lake) while it started to rain again. Since there was no cover anyway, I just kept on cycling and after some time the rain also stopped again.
After a while I noticed an uphill in front of me and suspected that I was already heading for THE mountain.

THE mountain is the uphill leading into and through the forest of Thuringia. I already feared it for days because of it's almost straight uphill of 300 meters in altitude. That's also the reason for my repeated cycling training up the Einkorn this week. I think I've never cycled a longer uphill before.
I checked on the internet and YES, there it was at the end of an 70+ km cycling day - and I felt up for it, sleep-deprivation and grumpiness long forgotten.

I shifted down to gear 3 and started to cycle up nice and slowly. A guy on a moped came towards me and just looked at me, kind of saying: "do you know what you're doing there?"
Luckily I didn't and I didn't think too much about it.

After a "normal" climb on a small country lane, I reached a rather steep passage for a few hundred meters. After that I thought, blood pounding in my head and sweat running down my back, that I had the worst part behind me. But I was wrong - by far.
After some "easy" cycling on a small road with only some hills, I reached a small dirt track with not only dirt but rough gravel and Edgar insisted to exactly take this challenge - and I obeyed.

From then on, I focused only on not hitting the bigger loose stones and felt a bit like a rider on a mule. My legs doing their thing and I was just responsible for finding the right path.
It wasn't physically hard, the challenge was to stay focused. And then, in the middle of this uphill, it started to rain - and again, no soft summer rain but real pouring down kind of rain.
At first I didn't want to stop but I was cycling in my wind jacket, so I had to stop to at least put on my rain jacket. After I put it on and managed to close my bag again, the path felt to slippery to cycle on.
I pushed my bike until the path became a little more even and the rain lessened a bit. The I got on my bike again and cycled and cycled, slowly but steadily.

Surprisingly, I didn't grow tired. I thought a little about it and decided that that was kind of the survival instinct: I didn't know how long I would have to cycle uphill and I also didn't know how much further I have to cycle to find a place to stay the night.

Shortly before 4 PM I arrived at a hut and ate some of my second bread roll...thankfully, I had bought two of them. After a few minutes rest - and some orientation: only 5-6 km to the next village, Siegmundsberg - the final stage of the day began - at least that was what I thought.
I had to climb another 30-40 meters in altitude on gravel before I FINALLY reached a real road and could enjoy a looooooong downhill - and some small uphills.

After some more minutes, I met the main road leading to Siegmundsberg. Close by was also the Werra spring and since I was right next to it, I went there and took a picture :-)
I made it to an altitude of 800 meters above sea level, it was even 400 meters in altitude from where I started the climb and all of that after more than 70 kilometers of cycling....this is like climbing the Mount Everest to me.

Right after I took the picture, Edgar called it a day: his battery was empty. Also my cell phone reported "No GPS signal" (yet, I was probably too impatient).
But I was pretty sure that Siegmundsberg was on my left.
I turned left on the main road and cycled downhill.
For meters and meters and minute after minute and there was no Siegmundsberg in sight.
It took me not too long to realize that I had taken the wrong turn and there was no way that I was cycling up this hill again on that day.
So I kept on cycling downhill.
I stopped in the next village to ask for accommodation but the gentleman told me that I had to cycle all the hill down to the next village, Sachsenbrunn, 3 k further on.
Which I did.
I stopped at two inns but both had no room for me. I started to feel a little like the holy family - just without the pregnancy part.

Usually, that would have been the point where I crashed: by now, I felt dead tired, I had messed up everything I succeeded just an hour ago, it was getting late and I didn't have a place to sleep or eat. There were only villages around, lots of them with no restaurant or hotel at all. It was also Saturday night in high season and there were festivals everywhere around. The chances to find a place to stay were pretty slim.
In the second inn I asked they told me to cycle on to Eisfeld, another 7 kilometer, including another uphill, on the main road.
By the time, I was just crawling along with my bike but after a half eternity I also made it to Eisfeld.
When I entered the town, my hopes sank even further: Eisfeld isn't one of the towns that benefited from the German reunification: only empty and worn down houses wherever I looked. It looks like all the prejudices I have about abandoned villages in East Germany.

I asked a couple on the main road if they knew about a hotel or something similar. They recommended the Schaumberger Hof. The hotel was easy to find but they also turned me down.
I already asked for the railway station as last chance to get to a bigger city to find something to stay. But the lady at the Schaumberger Hof also told me about a little guest house on the way to the train station as one last chance.
I cycled down the road to the railway station and even found the house with the sign "Zimmervermietung" in the front yard. I parked my bike in front of the house and rang the bell. Nothing happened.
I walked back to the sign if there was a phone number. There wasn't.
I rang again. Nothing.
I had already turned around to walk back to my bike when the front door was opened by an older gentleman.
To my question if they happened to have any room for tonight, he responded: "well, since it's you, I think we'll have a room available." - and that was in an un-creepy way ;-)
I was so happy...almost the whole mountains of Thuringia fell of my heart (I guess, you can only get that as a German speaker ;-) ).

Mr.Doehring, so the gentleman's name, carried all of my luggage up the stairs where we met his wife who was putting fresh sheets on my bed and after a few more minutes showing around the house, I had could settle in.
After my well-deserved and very long hot shower, I went for a look around town and my first impression got a little mitigation although there is really not too much going on in Eisfeld: There is the Greek (restaurant), the Doner (restaurant) which also offers pizza, another three small restaurants (all closed for private functions), a brand new Edeka and Lidl, a church, a castle, a marble museum and I think that's about it.
Since I couldn't find the "real" pizza restaurant, I settled for a doner kebab. The only little thing to celebrate was a coke which I felt I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally needed.

Usually, this would have been a pretty sad and frustrating end of the day because I didn't even get the spaghetti with meat sauce I had wished for so much. But maybe I was even too tired to break down, maybe I did train myself long enough to focus on the positive side of things and maybe I was too glad that I found a place to stay and to continue my trip as planned.

Instead of breaking down and cursing my wrong decision of the day, I planned my trip from Eisfeld to Ilmenau including the trip up on "THE" mountain again and, learning from the day's course, booked my accommodation in Ilmenau. Which of course also serves as motivation to stick to the plan. And after that I fell into bed at 9:30 PM and slept deep and sound until 7 AM the next morning.

When the mood and the path became better

Nice stop in between

Looking around

Fontain in Coburg

Fontain close-up in Coburg

Market in Coburg

Residence in Coburg

The frog ground lake

After the rain ceased

Werra spring, right before I made the wrong turn

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