Day 16: Stolpen to Herrnhut, 85 km. End of the ride, total 1137 km
The last day of riding and a tough one, with mountain after mountain in the Zittau range. I spent much of the day in first gear or pulling hard on the brakes. And when a downpour hit soon after departure from Stolpen, I was preparing myself – reluctantly – for a wet day. But it cleared and the sun bore down upon me. By the time I was pedalling along the Spree River, close to its source (the river runs to Berlin), I was on tracks I knew. More than four years ago, I had ridden these parts, and the closer I drew to my destination, the more I remembered. A warm welcome in Herrnhut!
The end of the ride: weariness after a long, long day ( I arrived at dusk); elation at completing the ride; a sense that I wanted to pedal on after a rest … which always leads to me to look forward to the next ride.
Day 15: Tharandt to Stolpen, 68 km
Passing through Dresden today, I signalled two achievements: at 1000 km I felt as though I had covered a reasonable distance. And at the end of the day, at 1052 km, I had ridden further on one ride than ever before. By now I had been following, on and off, the D4 sign for quite some distance. I was also beginning to believe what I had read: it is regarded as the hardest long distance bicycle route in Germany.
A mixed day of riding, with city riding (usually not so enjoyable), a fast run down a section of the Elbe, which divides most of east Germany from the western parts, and then the beginning of the mountainous sections of eastern Saxony. The fortress at Stolpen was a complete surprise. Rising out of the fields is an old castle, dating back some 8 or 9 centuries. For long occupied by a local bishop, it also boasted sloping cobbled streets, and the great Burg Hotel. A relative treat for the last night, but immensely enjoyable.