Often good stories begin with the fact that it was planned differently. So also this case. Actually, Tobias and I would have met for a weekend in the Harz and would have ridden together an Overnighter.
For this we combined the tracks of the old Harz Orbit Plutonic Piste and the Bikepacking.com track “Harz is hard“. This would have been a challenging package of 275km and 5,000HM. Ideal for some training and a good overnighter.
Here you can find the planned route – also in the sense of Sharing is Caring, if you want to ride it:
But unfortunately Tobias got sick and so I decided to go alone to the Harz mountains. Rental car and accommodation for the first night were already booked. But also with me not everything went as planned. My son had to be taken to sports very early on Sunday morning and my wife was also a bit sick.
So I rescheduled for a day trip and decided to take the Orbit 360 Harz Plutonic Piste track and reschedule a bit. The track goes once around the Harz, touches here and there a little more the mountains, so that in the end 165km and around 3,000HM come together.
I had also planned a shorter route, which I would have ridden in the case if the time had been too short. Because if I know one thing, then that the Harz sometimes and often can also be hard and seemingly easy routes then neatly cost time and strength. Not for nothing I had my training camp for the Silk Road Mountain Race in the Harz.
This time I actually wanted to take it easy, but when I cycled up the first mountains in the morning at 6 o’clock, I already noticed that my legs were good. And there’s nothing else I can do but let run.
Unfortunately the weather was rather unstable. Cold wind, every now and then rain showers and many clouds accompanied me almost the whole day around the Harz. For this I was alone, especially in the western Harz, where I am less depressed by the general condition of the Harz forest, but above all the condition of the villages astonished. Like in a time capsule, everything has stopped. The Bonn Republic still exists here and many villages simply stopped living sometime in the 80s/90s.
In contrast, the East is lively. You immediately notice the change to “the other side of the Harz”. In the towns there are cafes, small stores and above all life. I got right into the Brockenlauf and had to pause first to let all the runners through. What an effort to run up the Brocken. Respect!
And the landscape was quite fantastic dipped in autumn colors: sometimes colorful and wooded, sometimes dystopian and enchanted. I met only a few hikers and even fewer cyclists. But this solitude I find fantastic, especially to come down after exhausting days with many people.
Zillierbach Ecker Reservoir reminded me of a computer game. Those who know “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” know exactly what I mean. There you lie a little further up the mountain and have the dam wall well in sight 🙂
And when I suddenly stood in front of the old dam wall after a descent, it was very impressive. Even more impressive was then the old path that led from the dam through the forest, past old overgrown bunker-like buildings and a border pillar. There I felt immediately even more in the computer game, but the underground demanded full concentration, because cross ridges interrupted the way again and again.
Behind Wernigerode I decided not to ride the short distance, but to follow the Plutonic track further. There it went then rather up and down by small places toward Thale, before the track turned again to the west and led me toward Bad Lauterberg. Here I then took a bit of road, as I wanted to ride around a section of the track. But as is so often the case, seemingly easier paths then turn out to be much more difficult.
And so I had then on 12% slopes laboriously back up to Sophienhof and Rohtesütte continue to Zorge. Then I rolled the last kilometers to Bad Sachsa and once again over the mountain to Bad Lauterberg.
At the end there were 170km and just under 3,000HM on the clock. And I was annoyed, because I had again problems with the regular supply of food. Somehow I wasn’t hungry at all, just drank and forced myself four bananas and now and then a bar in. That this is not enough, I could then feel when I could no longer muster so much energy on the mountain and only crawled up lightly pedaling. In addition, I had problems with sitting, but this was probably because I had to adjust my cleats again differently.
All in all, not an issue, but the little things add up on rides like this. And I urgently need to find a way to eat enough on such rides in race mode, even when I can’t. At the other Ultra Races, you generally have enough time to eat. Probably there it is also because there are not so many opportunities to eat and take longer breaks. But with so short things, like such a Harz round, it must also work out, without having to take great breaks to get hungry. I make myself times thoughts…
In any case, the Harz – as often written by me – is an absolute tip, no matter what the weather. And with the bike a good touring and training area. And if Tobias is healthy again, we drive then the big round…