During a business trip in late August I had the chance to visit Munich with my bike and take two days off to explore the Bavarian countryside.
I stayed at a cheap hotel (Best Western) in the vicinity of the main station in Munich. This part of the town is mainly populated by Turks and so it is no wonder that some of the restaurants, shops and hotels are named after famous figures form the Turkish history such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
On the first day I took my bike on a train out to Starnberg lake which is about 30 minutes away from Munich. Bikes don’t need to be packed in bags so it is rather easy and fast to start. The weather was just perfect and I started to ride along the lake. Some of the estates grouped along the shores of the lakes are just spectacular. They look like villas silent movie stars from the Twenties use to live in.
I just rode aimlessly but fast around. After Starnberg lake I rode on to Tegern lake and then further on to the Schlier lake. In one of the villages I noted a good bicycle shop and I spend some time with the mechanic there to fix my cassette. I had tried to combine some of my Ultegra 6700 and Dura Ace 7900 cassette parts and construct the ultimate 11-28 Durultra cassette but that didn’t worked out at all. So I could ride only in 8 gears with the fastest one being the 14 tooth cog on the rear.
But nevertheless it was a beautiful day and I just rode and rode without any plan or any goal. If a road looked nice or a village hat a nice and interesting name I just went there. For work I have to be so much organized and plan carefully the things ahead but in my private life I prefer a more chaotic approach from time to time. When the sun went down I took a train home to Munich main station. Everything was so easy.
I wondered if I should travel to Sonthofen the second day for a repeat of the first day of the Transalp 2011 race and conquer Oberjoch and Hahntenjoch for a second time. Actually the Hahntenjoch was the first climb in many years that forced me to walk up. But the weather didn’t looked to good and since a long time I wanted to visit one of the most famous sights of Germany : the Neuschwanstein Castle.
So I took a train to Garmisch Partenkirchen, home of the famous winter sport idols Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther. That day it was cloudy and it threaten to rain. Nevertheless I started to ride in direction of the Austrian border. It was so nice to be back in the mountains and I wholeheartedly enjoyed the climb. But then it started to rain and I was forced to take a break at a bus stop in order to wait until most of the water was released from the clouds before I could continue to ride. An ugly and busy road brought me back to the German border and the town of Füssen. From there it was only a few kilometers to the castle of Neuschwanstein. The site was extremely busy with many, many tourists from all over the world. Actually from the main road up to the castle gate is a very nice climb, lasting for about 2 km and 180 m elevation difference. One has to navigate one way around the tourists which must be similar to the feeling that TdF or Giro rider have when they ride up the last stretches of the Tourmalet, the Galibier, to Alpe d’Huez or the Mortirolo.
The castle itself looks surprisingly new. Which is probably due to the fact that it is pretty new, only erected during the reign of Ludwig II in the late 19th century. Just like Tom collects new bikes and I collect old ones, the hobby of Ludwig II was to built new castles. The money for that expensive hobby was provided courtesy of Prussia or the German Empire which was paid in return for the consent of the Bavarian King to agree to the formation of the German empire under Prussian leadership. Probably people found it rather extravagant and lavish to spend that much money on a singular purpose. The same thing could have been said about the pyramids in Egypt, but history proved the investment of the king right: Today the magic castles of Ludwig II are one of the main tourist attractions of the Bavarian Federal state.
Next to Neuschwanstein castle is another castle built by Ludwig II, the Hohenschwangau castle. Not many tourists go there but It provided the opportunity for another shorter climb so I rode up to the castle gate as well.
Clearly one can see the point up to which cycles are allowed. The most funny thing I saw was, that there is street number sign mounted on the castle gate (Alp Street 30) which speaks for the German sense of organisation. Were letters to the king addressed like this?
After so much sightseeing I was eager to do a little bit more of cycling. I entered the main road in direction North and suddenly I realized that I was on this very famous road that every Japanese with some interest in Germany knows: The famous ROMANTIC KAIDO!
Please note that the name is also written in Japanese on the road sign. Wow, I heard so much about this road but I had never been there and I even had doubts that it would exist in reality. But here I was with my bike and two nice white Swiss DT rims and looked at the beautiful, romantic road and the even more beautiful, not romantic mountains.
After that I road through the countryside of Bavaria and the weather was continuously improving. There were many rolling hills and I really enjoyed this part of the trip. It was so enjoyable that I even forgot to take pictures. The villages along the road had such nice names as „Einöd“, „Lauerbach“ and „Sndgraben“ and not such ugly names as they are common in the North of Germany: „Sauensiek“, „Okel“ or even „Fickmühlen“. This was one of the best rides I had in the last month. As in Japan I ignored a road barrier and rode through a construction site. At one point I realized that I was riding on almost liquid asphalt that has just been poured some hours ago.
After more than 150km riding I arrived back at Starnberg lake and took a train home for the last 30 km through the Munich suburbs. I really should live in the South of Germany.