Day 3 - Altmühl and Taubertal Radwegs - CycleBlaze

Day 3

Solnhofen to Herrieden

Contrary to my fears of the proximity to the train tracks, I slept very well last night thanks at least in part to my earplugs. I had my alarm set for 8am. I’m hoping for a reasonably early arrival this evening. Or perhaps that extra time gets spent somewhere waiting out rain because the forecast says some could hit around lunchtime and again around 5pm. Then there’s the other forecast that says only 5pm for possible rain. Someone is wrong. Probably both of them because it always rains when I do these tours. 

Breakfast was termed großes Kloster Frühstück. 5 insanely thin slices of tasteless Swiss cheese, some sort of orangish cheese spread that had too much taste, 2 enormous chunks of butter (hard pass from me), a few thin slices of cucumber, a couple cherry tomatoes, and 3 buns of various types. I miss the breakfast spread at Hotel Probst. It’s 9km (little over 5 miles) to Pappenheim where I will probably have to patronize a bakery to get enough energy to make it the couple more miles to Treuchtlingen. 

My raingear has been moved to the top of my left pannier and is ready for the rain. I may need to get my coat out too because it’s actually a bit chilly this morning. Nice change. Also, it was too humid last night for my nightly laundry to dry so I have some very slightly damp clothes too. It’s 9:15, breakfast is done, and off I go. 

Or so I thought. As I was organizing my things to head out, it started raining, the kind of rain that is worth getting out the raingear. By the time I got that all set up it was closer to 10am than 9am. I rode the entire way to Pappenheim in the rain. Fortunately it never rained particularly hard, just hard enough to be annoying. 

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I was expecting pappenheim to be a very exciting place. My guidebook listed an old palace and a new palace, a couple churches, and an old castle up on the hill. The first church I rode past was the Weidekirche which is an outdoor church some school kids or something thought up. See the photo to understand what in the world it is. The second church was recent by European standards but had been built in the Roman type style. Frescoes all over, but false advertising. It wasn’t as old as it was styled to be. The new palace I found (needed some TLC), but I never saw the old palace.  I decided to be brave and cycle up to the castle. It was especially brave because it turned out though it wasn’t that steep a climb, half the street on the way up was cobblestone (kopfsteinpflaster). Terrible to ride on. Even worse when wet. Also hard to ride down on because you don’t even get the satisfaction of going fast. The castle is really really old, as in they started building it in 1028. Amazingly it was in use up to the 1700’s if I understood correctly. One could argue it is still in use today, just as a museum. Pappenheim has certain made an effort to create an interesting experience, but when your town castle is actually just ruins and a few buildings you can look into through a piece of glass across the door,you have an uphill battle, and not the type that lead to the castle being ruined either. 

My stop in Pappenheim set me back a couple hours. Next stop was Treuchtlingen. I made that visit a bit quicker. One little palace with small grounds and that was it. I was slightly delayed trying to leave Treuchtlingen when I arrive at the designated bridge to cross the Altmühl. Umleitung (detour). No visible signage prior to the bridge. Vague instructions were to ride back into town to the fire station and then follow the signs for the detour. I pulled out my bike map software on my phone and created my own Umleitung. 

Beyond Treuchtlingen there were a lot of open fields. The sun also came out which meant so did the sunscreen. Then more fields, more sun, some sweat, a path alternating between paved and dirt made slightly soft by the earlier rain, earlier rain being specifically the period of heavy rain for maybe 45 minutes that hit as I neared Treuchtlingen. A Lidl grocery store came conveniently into site around that time and lunch was purchased at the store and devoured under the overhang that protects the carts. I knew from my map book that there was nothing between Treuchtlingen and Gunzenhausen and I can now confirm that is correct. 

Gunzenhausen also caused a lengthy delay in my day. I was very much in search of a restroom and every place on my map showed nothing in real life. I finally tried a bakery/cafe. When I arrived at the bathrooms the sign on the door said that you had to purchase something to eat and then your bathroom code would be on the bottom of the receipt. That’s a new idea. They just so happened to have erdbeerschnitte so I ordered my pastry of the day and attended to my bathroom needs after consuming said pastry. 

Shortly before entering Gunzenhausen my phone popped up a message saying I had used up all the data that came with my German SIM card. At first I thought they were just trying to trick me into spending more money needlessly, but I checked my data usage anyway and discovered that my phone had up and decided to try and upload all my photos to the cloud. 2.1gb of photos!  I have no idea why it tried to do that, especially since apple keeps telling me I’ve used my iCloud allowance. Since I’d used up all my data they had slowed my data access down to 32kb/s. If you have not tried to use the internet at that speed, let me assure you it is not sufficient to access a weather report. As I was riding through Gunzenhausen looking for a bathroom, I passed a store for the brand of SIM card I’m using. As I was finishing my pastry I thought maybe I should pop in there and get some help topping up my data. I couldn’t remember where it was so I figured I’d have to ride around a bit (maps load pretty slow at 32kb/s) to find it. As I walked out of the bakery, there was the store, directly across the street. The young lady that assisted me wanted to know why I would be using a pay-as-you-go plan with such a swank phone. I told her I’m from the US and only here for a week to which she replied, how in the world did you learn to speak German so well? I mean, I studied it in school. She told me she wished she spoke English that well. Very nice of her to say given how clunky my grammar is when speaking. Pronunciation isn’t everything, my friends. She was able after some difficulties to get my data topped up so I can keep up to date on the weather which continues to constantly change its mind (the afternoon rain never materialized. Just more sun.)

The ride leaving Gunzenhausen took me around the big lake there. It’s a lovey lake and the local population seems to enjoy chilling out there. I did encounter a slight road block with a retired couple out for a joyride who didn’t seem to quite grasp the idea of staying to the right. Their route was actually quite meandering and I had to pass them twice do to a picture stop. The second time the woman commented to her husband about how they needed to watch out for fast bikers. If only 13mph was actually classified as fast....

My guidebook indicated a castle just a bit off the route which sounded interesting so I made a quick detour up to check it out. When I arrived there I found a sign that said private land. No trespassing. I’m still not clear on if I was entering the grounds at the wrong place, or if my book just failed to mention that you can’t see the castle from the road or enter the property. Waste of a mile. 

Beyond Gunzenhausen there were more open fields. Also the occasional bit of headwind. The path was almost entirely paved so I was able to move along at a good clip. There were also very few towns, the only notable ones being Ornbau with a city gate and old bridge leading into it and my final destination of Herrieden which had almost an identical setup of bridge leading to city gate. Ornbau did have a curved bridge, so extra credit to them. I had some navigational issues getting to my private guest room in a residential area. Sort of an air b&b kind of thing. It’s a super room, once I found the place. The proprietor clearly has put a lot of thought and effort into the rooms. Each room has an exotic country theme. I had the choice of Egypt and Africa. The towels are color coordinated with each room since the bathroom is shared. I’m the only guest tonight which means I get the place to myself. It has a mini kitchen and common room with games. Books in the room, coordinating with the country theme. Detailed instructions on how to use the tv. Super comfy beds. Totally compensates for the crummy room last night. 

Supper was at wha I think was the only open restaurant in town. I ordered the mixed vegetables in a curry and coconut milk sauce. The proprietress tried to convince me to try the Steinpilze, but it cost about €6 more and I didn’t think mushrooms were worth that much. The dish I ordered was outstanding and since I saved that €6 I felt justified in ordering the vanilla ice with hot raspberry sauce. Also phenomenal. I am now fighting a food coma. No problem. I’m going to bed soon anyway. 

Tomorrow I ride to Weikersheim. First part of the ride should go fast since I’m riding through more open farm country. Rothenburg will be more time consuming, although it helps that I passed through there three years ago and spent a full two days there. Then I ride through the Tauber valley which will be slightly hillier. My route today was about as flat as you’ll get. I’m under a time crunch because the lady I contacted for the room says arrival has to be between 4 and 7pm. 

Sola Basilica across from my sad accommodations in Solnhofen. Roman Times.
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Weidekirche. It was raining so I didn’t wander in for better pictures.
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Frescos inside the recently built in an insanely old style church in Pappenheim
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The new palace. Not very swank
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The one remaining keep from the castle in Pappenheim
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More ruined castle. I think I read something about Napoleon being involved. Google is your friend....
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Altmühl valley in Pappenheim
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Small palace in Treuchtlingen
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Palace grounds
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Random shed in a field. I tend to take at least one of these every year.
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Example open field
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Stork in example open field. Also saw a lot of magpies.
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Just a fun name for a town
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Gunzenhausen during the great bathroom hunt
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Some nice building in Gunzenhausen
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Yum. Had to buy a slice so I could use the bathroom.
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Kathy ParkeDon't ya just hate it when you're forced into buying something like this? :)
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3 years ago
Altmühlsee
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Curved bridge into Ornbau
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Straight bridge into Herrieden.
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Also the bridge to Herrieden. It’s very very old I guess.
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Something in Herrieden
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My ice cream dessert
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My room
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Today's ride: 48 miles (77 km)
Total: 99 miles (159 km)

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