Sunday, May 04, 2008

Another Bavarian Ride

The forecast today was for 20 degrees C, so I left all my rain gear in my hotel room and headed out at 8:50am to meet Chris Brown at 12 Dienerstrasse for our ride. Chris had just picked up his bike shorts the day before, and was nattily dressed in a plaid shirt with mountain bike shorts. He picked up a couple of bottles of water and then we headed to the S-Bahn to pick up the train to Holzkirchen. While waiting for the train I realized that I had left my camera also in the hotel room, but didn't want to pay the 40 minute penalty to go get it, so I decided I would just enjoy the scenery instead.

We arrived in Holzkirchen around 10:00, and after making our preparations immediately headed out to the roads that I had ridden just a couple of weeks before. My goal wasn't to reprise that ride, but to head further East to see if I could find more climbing. Nevertheless, the ride south through Wangau had impressed me so much at that time that I opted to reuse some of the roads. I had created the route on Tuesday, so at this point only had a vague recollection of it. Once again, the beauty of the Bavarian foothills impressed me --- the San Francisco Bay Area has more climbing in less distance, but this area in Spring, at least, kicks butt in the "beauty per mile" division. You get lonely single lane roads, tree lined roads, cute little Bavarian villages where on Sundays folks still wear lederhosen, and then forests, streams, and all the alpine beauty thereof. Ahead of us we could see the snow capped peaks of the German alpine range, mighty and tall.

Of course, having a GPS-navigation device is of no use if you aren't paying attention. At some point I took a wrong turn and ended up on the main road near Ostin. Rather than make a U-turn and retrace our route, I spotted a bike path and headed for it. Since Chris was on a hybrid, the fact that the path was dirt didn't bother him. We followed signs towards the Schliersee, and soon headed into the forest where for the first time since I visited Germany I had to shift down into my 24x34 to climb a steep section. Chris with the stock gearing on his Google bike wasn't as happy, but he was keeping up fine most of the time, so waiting was at a minimum.

As we zipped around the West side of the Schliersee, we hit asphalt, and found a bike path running along a river. It was gorgeous and pretty, and there was even a Biergarten, but suspecting that there was a climb ahead I neglected to tell Chris about it and plowed on ahead. We climbed rapidly up into the Schliersee Berge, and soon enough, the road turned into dirt as we wove around towards Sch-Neuhaus. Bavarian forests have different colors than what I'm used to, and the dirt is mostly well graded, easily ridden on 25mm tires. It is quite steep though, and I had to spend a lot more time in the 24x34. We soon stopped for a quick lunch of a sandwich for me, and an apple for Chris, who was beginning to wonder what he was getting into.

Nevertheless, we pushed on, and eventually, the dirt road descended into a steep drop (steep enough that my brakes started fading despite the cool weather) and dumped us out onto the main road heading into Aurach. The road gave us gorgeous views into the surrounding mountains, but after an hour and a half of not having any traffic, even German drivers got on my nerves. We turned off towards Fischbachau but I spied a sign towards a cafe into Krugmach. I asked Chris if he wanted to head there and he did, so we took a detour and stopped at the cafe where Chris ordered 2 Radlers, since he wanted me to try it.

I tried it --- Radler is a mix of lemonade/sprite and beer, and it doesn't taste half bad, but after about a quarter of a liter felt the world tilt a bit (all that riding effectively gave me an empty stomach), which told me that I probably had had enough. Chris had had enough of riding as well, so he said he would ride over to Bayrischzell and pick up a train bach to Munich, since we had another 50km to go to get to Holzkirchen. We wished each other well, and I headed back towards Fischbachau, since according to my Kummerly+Frey map the next section would be scenic. Well, it was scenic, but there was so much traffic that I didn't appreciate it ntil I got off the main road into a side street, and then I was overwhelmed!

Meadows teemed with wildflowers surrounded me, and little strands of trees stood like islands in the waves of greenery. The weather was cool but not cold, just enough to keep me from sweating, and there was a gentle tailwind pushing me North. If there's anything on Earth closer to cycling paradise I don't know what it is, but this was pretty close. I swooped along on empty, deserted roads, flew along ridges, dived into valleys with sufficient momentum to carry me up shaded climbs alongside rivers. I swept along farms where cows with cowbells tinkled and jingled and stared at me.

By and by, I made it over to Seehamer See, where I bought an ice cream, having run out of other food a long time ago. The water was calm and peaceful, with canoes and walkers a plenty. From Seeham, I rode North towards Sonderliching along a ride, and from there, descended into the town of Valley towards Holzkirchen. Here to my delight I saw a sign for 20% grade, and the descent was definitely steep enough for it! The climb up the other side was also the steepest asphalt I encountered to date, and I had to drop into my 24x34 once again for it. Sure, it wasn't very long, but I think I will come back soon enough to check it out again.

After that, a few more turns brought me into Holzkirchen at 4:15, where I only had a 5 minute wait before the train brought me back into Munich. Not bad for 91km and 1354m of climbing. This was a great ride!
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