In the fall of 1989, two school friends were working on their bicycles in a cellar in Leipzig Connewitz, while the Monday demonstrations were taking place outside, the Wall was falling and a new world was opening up. One is Stephan, the other is me. And we are hell-bent on discovering the new freedom on our bikes.
And we are sure: With these bikes in the cellar, we can easily reach the Alps. Or even as far as Venice! And so our first bike trip actually took us from Leipzig to Venice and on via France and the Benelux countries back to Germany.
And it was the beginning of a now almost lifelong passion: traveling the world by bike. In the years that followed, we cycled together to Morocco, to the North Cape, to the Middle East, through Syria to Jerusalem, and then to India in 1998. 114 days we were on the road then, through Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan to China, illegally through Tibet to Lhasa, Nepal and finally to Mumbai in India.
At that time there was the relatively new internet and we got the opportunity to open a website for our travels:
Biketour-Global was born.
With our “Transasien – Mit dem Fahrrad von Leipzig nach Mumbai” tour we went on a slide show tour together. With three slide projectors and a sound system we went through Germany and showed our adventures.
After that we separated and went our own ways. Stephan became a father and I started to travel by bike on my own. In 2000 I rode alone through the Sahara to Timbuktu. In 2003 we met again for a small tour from Leipzig to the Baltic States. Stephan then pursued his physics degree and PhD and later moved to the USA to teach.
I, too, studied, started working, and stuck to bike touring. Alone, I continued to cycle the world: Norway, Morocco, Vietnam, Rwanda/Uganda, Iceland, Caucasus and Patagonia. Then I started Bikepacking (Kenya/Tanzania and Tuscany Trail) and focusing on Ultra Endurance races (Atlas and Silk Road Mountain Race).
Contact with Stephan broke off at some point and we lost track of each other.
Fast forward 20 years later in the spring of 2022: I was visiting my parents in Leipzig and during a walk in our old neighborhood on Leipzig’s Scherbelberg we suddenly met again. Stephan was back in Germany and now working in our old hometown.
And after many years without much bike in his life, it had crept back into his heart and became a fixed part of his active everyday life. And so, immediately after our first reunion, we went for a ride in the Leipzig lake district, he on his Specialized Diverge gravel bike and I on my father’s old trekking bike.
And it was as if no time had passed: Loewi and Moschi on a ride together. And so we spontaneously arranged for a joint tour in the summer. And a little later it was clear: it should be the Orbit360 in the Weserbergland.
Because Stephan discovered the Orbit360 as a motivation for himself and decided to ride as many as possible. And so it happened that he was also the first rider to finish the 8 Orbits this year. In total he rode 10 of these challenging gravel rounds in Germany. A remarkable achievement and I am really proud of my old friend. Because anyone who has ever ridden just one Orbit knows that it is beautiful, but also exhausting.
And in the middle of August the time had come: In the greatest heat we met in Bad Nenndorf to go on the Enjoy your Orbit adventure together. Dan Miesen of Enjoy your Bike has built a 250km long and 5,000 meters of altitude “high” tour here, which is very scenic and also very well scouted.
The Orbit leads through the Weserbergland, the Deister, Saupark, Ith, Rühler Switzerland and along the River Weser. The route has a lot to offer: little asphalt and many forest paths and gravel roads. But always rideable and technically not challenging. Actually a pleasant round, when it would not go so much and often uphill.
Depending on the mountains and the area, there were sometimes steep ramps, sometimes more winding climbs. With Bad Nenndorf we have chosen a good, but also demanding starting point. Because here begins the climbing part of the orbit, as you can see in the elevation profile.
On the 120km that follow, more than 3,000 meters of altitude have to be overcome. This is a challenge even without heat, which is why we had to do a lot of climbing and some pushing.
But it was not particularly high: at 440m it was the end. For the altitude meters but provided the many ups and downs. They were especially with some luggage and in the terrain then appropriately challenging.
However, we were not in race mode, but as old friends with their bikes on tour. So we chatted often and told of the years we had not seen each other. Except on the mountain, because there Stephan had to breathe 🙂 .
But the landscape and nature compensated for the sweaty work: the route led mainly through the forest, which brought shade and some cooling. But as soon as you left the protective roof, you were at the mercy of the burning sun. Accordingly, we also drank a lot and my hydration backpack proved its worth once again.
Stephan sought cooling with a swim break, I with a portion of fries, before we took the last climbs down to the Weser. At dusk we rolled along the Weser bike path and a little later set up camp for the night in one of the rest huts on the bank. A beautiful sunset, a shining full moon, a pleasant coolness and two beers made the evening then wonderful.
The next day saw only 800 meters of altitude and so we rolled in the morning sun along the Weser. I was impressed by the nuclear power plant Grohnde near Hameln, whose gigantic cooling towers dominated the landscape.
Near Schaumburg it was time to climb again and we went back into the mountains. And it was quite steep: up to 19% had to be overcome here. But then the Steinhuder Meer was waiting (a terrible place with all the bathers) and after more kilometers we reached Bad Nenndorf again.
At the end there were 250km and 5.020 HM on the clock. It was a great ride, a wonderful time with Stephan and a nice experience together. And a little bit it was like in the past and we will definitely do it again. And maybe we will go on a longer tour together again. Just like 20 years ago…