hot, late-summer day is the day we have planned for completing our bike tours. This is the "Waldtour" and is planned to be a 50 km (30 mi) ride through the wooded area in the west part of the county. Our route has a starting point at a village 20 km from here so the total day's ride will be about 90 km (56 mi) and require a minimum of two stops to recharge the bike batteries.
Our journey begins early – we should be underway by nine o’clock to be sure we have enough daylight to complete the tour. Packing the bike panniers, we check over the list:
- Downloaded map (for the spots where there is no cell service)
- Jackets (well, it is supposed to be about 75 but you never know)
- Technical equipment (powerbanks, cameras, etc)
Ok, it looks like we are ready – our last action is to grab the bike chargers and we are under way.
Our first planned stop is Mützingen where we can charge the bikes, have a coffee, and review the planned route to make any adjustments. This will take us an hour to reach.
Along the way, we encounter a small flock of sheep warming themselves in the morning sun near Beutow, a lone deer crossing a field between Krummasel and Tüschau, and one fat friendly fellow outside Mehlfien where we stopped for a short break to say hi.
Soon we reach our first stop, plug in the bikes, and settle in for a coffee and a map consult. Three-quarters of an hour passes quickly and we are underway again.
Our route takes us behind the Mützingenta and toward the highway. We will then cross the highway which is where the real tour begins. From here we will make a loop through the Göhrde and return to Mützingen along the backroads before returning home.
Or so we think. In an effort to stay off of the main road (you know – cars and heat and everything) we have taken a trail that is marked on the map as a path. The app says the trail goes through and connects up to the highway. So, following the route, we soon are in the middle of the forest…and the path we are following is gone.
More pushing heavy bikes up a hill in the middle of the forest. We are following a thin black line on the map through the forest that we are hoping will bring us to a another line on the map that we hope is a still viable trail. Some confusion and app consulting brings us to the correct trail (finally!).
Following the now very visible path, we finally come safely out of the woods on to the highway, cross over, and continue along.
Most of our travels are on country roads through the woods, skirting the edges of green and yellow fields, and crossing long forgotten train tracks. Some of our way, however, is “off road” and consists of sand. Much of the area in this region is sandy, which, if you have ever tried to ride a bike at the beach, you know how well that goes.
Our tour meanders through small villages ensconced within the forest where we stop for a short rest in the shade with sheep.
Pushing on, we make it to Dübbekold where we stop for coffee and a piece of cake and a charge for the bikes. More than half way through our tour, we still have the most difficult part of our ride ahead of us.
The restaurant is pleasant and offers a much needed shady place to sit and rest. We don’t want to leave – we have been riding for 3.5 hours and are tired – but we need to keep pushing on or we will never get home.
We plan our tours to have as much “off road” as possible or, minimally, we attempt to stay on back roads and bike paths. In order to avoid riding on the highway, we are following an old foresting road. The goal is to continue along this “road” until it meets the highway where we will, once again, cross over.
However, sandy devil road gets the better of us. The hills are grueling in the late afternoon heat. Covered in sweat and sand, mostly pushing the bikes uphill when the sand is much too deep to ride, we abandon the route at the available crossroad.
Since we have abandoned the tour – we plan a direct way home.
Stop! Hold on a minute!
I hear a cry from behind me. I stop my bike and look behind me to see Olaf walking back along the path staring intently at the ground.
Suddenly he reaches down plucks something from the ground. I walk back to him – he is excitedly holding a mushroom. “Do you know what this is?! This is a Steinpilz!”
He then tells me they are delicious eating and can be quite expensive. We spend then next 20 minutes walking the stretch looking for more.
Our precious cargo safely nestled in my bike basket, we make the rest of the ride home eagerly anticipating dinner.
Back at the house, we take stock of our haul. Almost 2 kg of Steinpilze. Cleaning them took quite a bit of effort – brushing the dirt so as to not damage them. Eventually we are done and we have selected a recipe in which to use these beauties.
Fresh Steinpilze Cream Sauce with Ham
- crème fraiche
- ham, cubed
It has been a long, hot, – somewhat frustrating – and exhausting day. However, our serendipitous find (and Olaf’s cooking) makes a delicious end to the day.