Off the Beaten Track
Germany: Main River Tour – Stage 03 – Miltenberg to Marktheidenfeld 56 Km (Sat 3rd June 2017)
Weather: 12⁰C min – 25⁰C max, sunny in morning, thunderstorms in afternoon
When I looked at the historic weather for Marktheidenfeld last night I noticed that in the past 30 years it has rained 26 times out of 30 on this day. Then I checked today’s forecast and noted that there is a 60% possibility of thunderstorms by 1 pm.
OK no problem, I developed a plan to beat the storm. First, I checked my map and noticed I could reduce the ride from 55 Km to 39 Km by taking a shortcut across country when I reached Hasloch, rather than following the snaking river all the way to Marktheidenfeld. Secondly, I would make sure to eat breakfast as soon as it opens at 7 am with the view to being on the road before 8 am.
The next morning I gulped down my breakfast at 7 am and was rolling along the river path by 7:45 am. How delightful it is at that hour on a crisp sunny morning! I could feel the early morning stillness as I road alongside the mirror-like, misty river, glancing occasionally at the distant hills faded by a film of blue haze. The sky was still mainly blue, with just a thin veil of streaky cloud. After getting caught the other day in Mannheim I would continue monitoring for signs of blackness that can come over so suddenly here.
At the 30 Km mark I turned off from the river path to take my shortcut. Soon I found myself on a rough dirt track, the first ascent I have encountered in this part of Germany. The track looked as if it is only used by timber trucks. It was much too rough and steep to ride, so I dismounted and pushed my bike for about 2 km. Exhausted, I sat on a bench overlooking the forest to enjoy the pumpernickel bread I had pilfered from breakfast yesterday. I sat there for a while listening to the birds and wondering why they were so happy … probably because they didn’t have to push a heavily laden touring bike up a mountain! The further I went the more impenetrable the track became … completely overgrown with grass and weeds. I pushed my bike ahead of me, thinking it might frighten any snakes away, at the same time trying to avoid the stinging nettles as I brushed my way through the undergrowth.
Oh why did I leave the comfort of my river path! But you reach the point of no return and just have to push on regardless. I might as well just enjoy the walk and hope that I come to a rideable road soon. The flint-like granite track that I finally reached was like a London cycle super-highway compared with what I had experienced for the last few Km, so I mounted my sturdy steed and plugged away until I reached the summit.
The last 5 km was smooth sailing so I arrived at my hotel too early to check in. The only person I could find there was a cleaning lady who spoke no English, but I managed to get her to unlock the door so I could leave my pannier bags near the reception desk. The hotel is actually at a little village called Altfeld about 5 Km before you get to Marktheidenfeld, so I hopped on my bike to explore the town.
Right on cue the thunderstorm struck precisely at 1 pm, at which time my bike was parked in an undercover parking station in Marktheidenfeld and I was parked in a Bäckerei enjoying a mega cappuccino. Thank goodness for that shortcut route!