Three problems confronted us today: getting to the bicycle shop in Wernigerode without her front tyre exploding; the expected storms; and finding a safe route to Stolberg.
The first problem was resolved after about 10 kilometres at the Fahrrad Baron in the next town. The woman in charge was helpful in the way country Germans are and we left a hour later with two new robust touring tyres, the intact old one as spare, and two bright green panniers for her to store her stuff.
By midday the second problem had resolved itself, for the heavy clouds had lost their threatening edge. True enough, the land needed rain and we would not have begrudged a wet day. But it was not to be on this day.
The third problem took longer to resolve. For the first 20 kilometres we followed sundry bicycle signs, occasionally following the witches. But with a weird turn too many, we eventually lost our patience. At Wienrode (‘rode’ meaning a clearing in the forest and common in village names in these parts) we opted to take what the Germans call the ‘L’ routes. In some parts they are busy indeed, but in these mountainous parts they were quiet, smooth and a pleasure.
Since we were riding through the heart of the Harz Mountains, we climbed and twisted and climbed some more. Given my liking for the mountains, I set myself in first gear on the Brompton and suggested she settle in behind and follow my pace. We climbed non-stop over four steep kilometres until we crested the first climb and dropped like stones to the village of Allrode. Here we paused, with an ice coffee for here and regular one for me (I still cannot get the German fascination with ice cream at every moment).
The next village was Güntersberge, which entailed a slightly gentler climb over 15 kilometres along a stream. We crested the twisting climb on a stunning plateau where the sky towered above and the road wound ahead. It was one of those rare moments that you wish would go on forever. This was one of those roads in the sweat of the day for which you ride and ride and ride.
Stolberg was still 7-8 kilometres away and we anticipsted it would require another climb. But the plateau should have told us we were at the top. A turn was all it took and we dropped from the top of the southern Harz mountains to Stolberg. We stayed at the somewhat ostentatious Stolberger Hof at 79 Euro.
We had dinner up the road in one of those places that appear for a time and are gone when you turn to look for the second time.