Bicycletour Saale-Radweg Magdeburg - Hof,
and Vogtland and Erzgebirge to Zittau
Route Table

Monday, Hof - Falkenstein, 58 km
12.00-17.30, 53 km/h max, 15 km/h avg

Rest at a pool

At first I must find out the right location where to join this ominous BT-ZI-hike trail. In a park I ask a man for a village named Neutauperlitz. He is not impressed. "Kaufhof?" he says. I repeat my question and he repeats to explain the route to the next Kaufhof (supermarket). I resign and reach the trail at Regnitzlosau via Jägersruh and Döberlitz. Now I am very happy and at first have a rest at a nice pool. If you study the bike map thoroughly you will find out, that the hike trail meanders around as usual and no hill is omitted. So I think to find this and that compromise but touch the main locations of the route.

But even the easier route offers a lot of hills. At the village Posseck we come back to Eastern Germany which is named Vogtland here. At the village Leubetha we start to ride up a lovely valley that the bikers heart begins to jubilate. Just now I feel a strange rolling at the rear wheel - guess what happened. For the next 5 km it is sufficient to pump. Thereafter we only manage to ride 3 km. And then it's over.

I am now at Wohlbach at the creek  Eisen Bach which is running to the Weisse Elster. Just in front of the church there is a bench. This is well suited to unload and turn the bike upsidedown. Some time later I have removed the defect tube and replaced the spare tube (10 mins). But now the new tube is less tight than the old one - I think I look stupid now. A young man comes up who has watched my trouble. If I needed special gear? "Oh no, but a pot of water or something like that". "There is a rainwater barrel up there" he says, that's all I need. The old tube can be repaired now, but the spare tube bubbles like champaign, the trash can is aside. Finally everything is fixed again, but from now on I ride "auf dem letzten Loch" (German slang: "on the last hole").

As I reach the main street I see, that the road to Klingenthal is closed. May be there is a bridge under construction or something like that? I am not eager probably to go back so I decide to go north to Falkenstein. At first I enter a bikeshop there and buy a new tube and some spare screws from the garbage box. Moreover the lady can recommend a hotel near by and this is Hotel Jägerhalle. I can tell in advance that this hotel will win the golden palm of this tour. But two other disasters first: as I enter the shower cabin I cannot find my comb and it would be fatal to shampoo the hair and not to have a comp afterwards. So I jump in suits and trousers and rush outside, shops will close within the next 15 minutes. I am happy to find a "Seifen Platz", a soap etc. shop and they offer plenties of combs. But when I finally enter the shower cabin again, I fail to rip open the small plasticbag of shampoo. So this time naked and wet I must dive into the panniers for the Swiss pocket knife...

But then everything is arranged at dinner time, they offer roast duck with red cabbage and dumplings (Kloesse) for DM 13.50 today. So it is not necessary to read the rest of the menu card. Well fed afterwards I turn to the television, we have the evening before the 10 year anniversary of the Wiedervereinigung, this day is celebrated as "Tag der Deutschen Einheit" in Germany (German Unity Day). And they present some prominent German personalities like H.D. Genscher, Heiner Lauterbach, Jens Weisspflog, Hera Lind, Gunther Emmerlich or Helmut Kohl. May be you know this or that in foreign countries. At RTL they present Big Brother.

Another film shows a documentation of the "Wende" in two parts. Let us see, where we will watch the second part tomorrow?






Dienstag, Falkenstein – Marienberg, 91 km
8.30-17.00, 58.2 km/h max, 13.0 km/h avg

As I put my luggage on my bike someone asks me, if my sandals would be the proper equipment for a bike tour. An  acquainted person would prefer a click fix mechanism or something like that. "I just stroll along in a comfortable manner" I say (though this is not quite true).

We have the Tag der Deutschen Einheit - a celebration day, and the morning is grey and dull. I fly down to Auerbach, a famous name known from Goethe's Faust. And you can find a restaurant named "Auerbach's Keller" there. Then the road is closed again, but this time I prefer another interpretation: a construction site is traffic free. This will be a valuable experience for the further tour.

We are at the areas of the Western Erzgebirge meanwhile. So it will more and more go up and down. This time up to 700 m height via a village named Schnarrtanne. The next hamlet is named Schoenheide, but there you will not see much for you have to manage a fast downhill to the water reservoir Eibenstock. There you can fork to the town of Eibenstock. This is a ghost town this morning, no human being is to be seen. Roads and places are paved perfectly. In front of the church you can observe a Weihnachtspyramide - this is a typical decoration for christmas time. It will look even better after snowfall.

Now I am back on the original hike path and follow the signposts. And the result is in consequence: gravel, a hikers group (friendly), and then a steep downhill nearly not to brake down, and finally a steep uphill at the other side of the valley. So we reach Sosa and the signposts of the hike path get lost. So I turn to the road, but there are three of the most serious arrows at the map, signals for uphills. A photo of the nice scene and then I start to climb. At the left there is a charburner's site open for visitors but I prefer to struggle and sweat ahead to Antonsthal at 800 m height. I see a group of people watching at something at the side of the road. It is a run down marten (Marder).

But now there is a long downhill to Schwarzenberg until the towers of the church and castle shine behind the treetops. Does someone know the Freie Republik Schwarzenberg (Free Republic of S.)? Well, past the end of the war neither Russians nor any alied armies appeared at this area. So the locals shorthand founded the free republic ruled by an independent government. This affair is documented by an "utopic" novel of Stefan Heym and presented as a movie as well. Nowadays Schwarzenberg is a picturesque touristic town if you oversee the DDR-made Plattenbau quarters (east-german monotonous style) at the slopes of the valley.

While the hike path winds its way over the hills I stay to the Bundesstraße 101. But this is not plane neither and requires sweat. But worse at this celebration day are the motorized enthusiasts. The motor cyclists represent their fashionable suits with colors adjusted to that of their engines. But they preserve the proper side distanc while they overtake. While some youngsters with overtuned bolids, techno sound and extra wide pneus come along razor-sharp. Aren't they crazy altogether? Or am I the madman struggling along in sweat? I find out: the others are crazy and myself as well.

After this nasty section I reach the touristic town Annaberg-Buchholz. I resign to look around there but turn to a smaller road at a romantic valley. This road got it's tarmac one day before and is still closed to the motorized traffic. So I enjoy this part very much. Soon I hit the B 101 again. I can read from the map, that there is a continuation of the hike path at the creek. So I find myself amidst a meadow at a pump station, some stupid looking cattles ahead. But then I meet a man who collects the semens of thistles. He explains the correct continuation and so I have some more kilometers of a nice ride.

Near Wolkenstein we hit a road again. A one-day-tourer comes up and we have a chat, he is very interested to hear of my tour. He tells lots of suggestions how to continue from here, but without knowledge of the local conditions it is impossible to fulfill one of these well meant hints. I stay to the road and climb up some hairpins to Wolkenstein. For this day I am not so inquisitive and don't visit the castle but head to the last section to Marienberg instead.

My bike map now ends at this region and I am dependant to an old map of the Erzgebirge from the DDR-age. But the hills still exist. I ride on the B 171 but there is not much traffic. The last hill is named Krähenhübel, 562 m and then we are at Marienberg with a welcome by the obligatory Plattenbauten again. It has become cold and starts to rain. I enter the Hotel Weißes Ross though a bus is there on the parking area. But I get a room and in a glassware elevator I fly up to the Nirwana.

Marienberg is an old miners town and the Hotel Weißes Ross has an ancient history. It burnt down several times and was rebuilt every time. During the DDR-age the buildings decayed in such an extent, that past the Wende the whole complex was broken down for a last time. Now the institution represents a hypermodern outfit, just suited to the as well sweated as cold  cyclist. On the other hand the light flooded restaurant and the waiters with waistcoats do not promise a romantic atmosphere. For this I enter the Ratskeller down at the arches of the townhall, where the Greek restaurant Poseidon resides. After I have consumed a delicious beef liver (forget BSD for a moment) I surround the big market place. And there they are again, the friends of fast cars, assembled around a green luxus coach. And some girls frustrated sit on a bench and bite their fingernails.

I head back to my hotel room, close the soundproof window to keep out the rumble of the chiller aggregate and the rain and then enjoy the second part of the German movie. For it is semi documentary one can admire the operating politicians of Germany, Europe and the world in threefold manners: as an actor, as the original person of those Wende-days and finally as the actual figure of the present time. Some faces have become roadmaps meanwhile, not to speak of the increase of girth (Leibesfülle) at least in one case. And did we get the prospering landscapes (blühende Landschaften) as it was promised by the chancellor (Kohl)?

Road at Olbernhaun

Where to go?

Dresdener Fürstenzug



Wednesday, Marienberg - Pirna, 105 km
8.15-16.30, 51,4 km/h max, 15,8 km/h avg

This morning at the breakfast buffet I meet the companions of the bus - all Swabians. They swarm around the buffet and translate the common names of jam and jelly to their own slang (not translatable). I have spent my study-years at Stuttgart, the metropolis of Swabian - and therefore can spy out their chatting.

We have a grey morning but no rain. Down the next nice valley. In revenge up again to the village Zöblitz with a battery of wind-generators. Down again to Olbernhau, a typical town in the Erzgebirge. One can visit an exhibition mine or sawmill and so on. In the first and only bookshop I can buy the urgent bike map nr. 14: Lausitz Östl. Erzgebirge. "I've run som hundred kilometers for this" I tell the shop people. (Later at home I find out that I own this map since two years ago from the Spree-tour, but the hike path Bayreuth-Hof-Zittau is not marked there.

Now I feel to have reached the entire Erzgebirge. I pass the castle named Burschenstein, up a nice valley again and we reach the dam of the water reservoir Rauschenbach. One can ride over the dam and then continue traffic-free. At some signposts there was to be read something of a show-aeroplane. In consequence I suddenly find myself at the fence of a garden and vis à vis an original Iljushin Il-14. Then I end behind the graveyard of Cämmerswalde and find my way across some meadows and homesteads between some goats back to the road. Up the next hill and then a very nice section follows. It is named "Ringelweg" though straight ahead. In winter times it is used as a loipe for skiing and equipped with lanterns.

Finally there is a dangerous downhill for there are rim-breaking cross groves. It all ends at the old dam of a railway track at the frontier to the Czech Republic. The border can be ignored here and this kind of activity is called "Hiking without Frontiers".

The path leads aside the dam which is signed as a protected natural object. You can observe how the plants and trees occupy this area more and more. Once I hear the cry of a pig, and then fading out from the right - the Czech - side. May be they have slaughtered a pork just then. Then a vehicle of the German Border Patrol comes up. I must stop and give the way free but they resign to make a check though I am not shaved since one week ago...

We turn to the road again, down into a valley and then up a brand new road passing a group of surveyor workers. At 800 m I have reached the highest point of this tour. So let's have a rest at Altenberg. Unfortunately this town looks sterile, they have paved everything. I buy a piece of cake and sit down on a wall in front of the post office. People look for the heap of crumbles down at my feet...

I head on and the chapter Erzgebirge is over now. And no more uphills - for a while. Instead of the winding hike path it is more convenient to rush down the valley of the Müglitz. This is very nice for a cyclist but not for a hiker, the hike path therefore prefers smaller trails. I fly along nearly without pedalling and pass villages as Lauenstein, Bärenstein or Glashütte. Suddenly there is some rumour ahead. A truck has come around a bend but somewhat outside of the roadbed. Now they make photos but it seems that there did not happen any serious malheur.

I leave this valley and change to the next parallel valley. This means uphill for half an hour. But then we reach the idyllic town Liebstadt with a mighty castle at th slope. Finally all downhill unil I reach Pirna at the Elbe at the early afternoon. I choose the Hotel Pirna’scher Hof just at the market place. This time I have much time to stroll around - though I am too lazy to climb up to the castle. The town is quite nice, the streets cross like on a checker board and there are small shops. At the Elbe there is a bridge and a ferry boat in addition. The variety of restaurants is formidable. You can choose a Hungarian or Spain inn, but I enter the Bauernstuben. At the menu the following poem is to be read:

Das Schweinefleisch ist teuer,
das Rindfleisch das ist knapp,
drum gehen wir doch zu Hempels,
da gibt es trapp trapp trapp.

Roughly translated:

Pork is expensive,
beef is rare,
so let's go to Hempels,
they offer trapp trapp trapp.

This trapp trapp trapp shall be the sound of horse hoofs. And now one can combine the background of this matter. In fact one can find some dishes of the menu offer horsemeat. But I better stay to a roast pork.

Bad Schandau

Bad Schandau

Elbe und Elbsandstein


Krammarkt in Hrensko



Der "Rote Rastplatz"


Thursday, Pirna-Zittau, 85 km
7.45-14.45, 46.6 km/h max, 14.5 km/h avg

I get up early this morning because I cannot estimate the distance from Pirna to Zittau correctly. I have decided to choose a curious route aside the Elbe and then to cross the Czech Republic. The weather forecast has announced some rain.

I start highly motivated, because one of the most spectacular bike routes in Germany waits for me. We have been there already but this time I choose the other shore of the Elbe. We then use the ferry boat at Stadt Wehlen and now until Königstein the route is known. The famous rock formation Bastei comes out of the morning mist but today this is not as spectacular as in the sunshine of the afternoon at our former tour (Spree). At a well known rail crossing I remember a certain bush, which caused some delay at those days. This time I am soon at Königstein and use the next ferry boat which is just waiting. Through colourful forests (Indian Summer at the Elbe) we reach Bad Schandau.

Here we cross the Elbe again on the bridge and now roll on the most beautiful part of the Elbe-bikepath towards Hrensko at the Czech border. I am now looking for the most lovely exemplar of a certain flower named Balsamine (Drüsiges Springkraut, impatiens balsamina) to take a photo. There is no rain to be seen, a cloudless sky and the mist is fading away. The nice bike path ends at the last ferry (meanwhile the path continues to the Czech Rep.). A train from Dresden has just arrived and crowds of people stroll around. Others come from the opposite shore carrying plastic bags. The ferry boat is just sufficient to transport all the passengers.

At the pier they check the passports. While I push my bike I have no free hand to pull the passport out of my front box. May be I can pass anyway? But "Hello, your passport too" the checking lady shouts behind me. No problem, there is my passport. At the town you can expect the usual market activities: juices, cigarettes, textiles, lots of Vietnameses organize the sales. They try to pilot every car passing by to their shops. May be they oversee the cyclist who may be not so well funded.

Soon this all lies behind as I climb up the well paved road towards Chribska (Kreibitz). I overtake some hikers and soon the path to the Prebischtor comes up. But from the signpost one can conclude: this is no trail for a cyclist. As I continue I detect curious scratched spots at the grass at the side of the road. If one looks more carefully one can detect the imprints of claws and can consider: wild pigs. The following route is one of the most spectacular of the tour at all. Due to the landscape, the steepness of the road up to 14%, the villages, the few traffic. One can detect the typical local timbered houses with their wooden arcs at the side, their name is Umgebindehaus.

At Chribska I reach a main road and civilized areas again. A last time up a hill to Varnsdorf. This time one should watch the route carefully: at Dolni Poluzi (Niedergrund) there is a rail crossing and just in front of this one should turn right and roll towards the border. Still doubtful if one could return to Germany on this road I ask a woman. She doesn't speak any German word though she lives some 100 m from the border. She gives a sign to go on.

Behind the next bend there are some mighty boulders on the path and this is the frontier. And no passport is needed. So I find myself at Waltersdorf  back in Western Europe. Now I find a "red" place for a rest: a red bench, red bike, red panniers. Now I consume the rest of the crumble cake of yesterday. A cow nearby raises the tail into my direction. But I think this is not a personal attack...

What is to be seen in Waltersdorf? I can tell you: Umgebindehäuser. If one continues via Bertsdorf the companions are Umgebindehäuser. And if one can't get enough of it, he can choose a certain bikepath abbreviated UMG. Guess what this means...

Nearly at noon I reach Zittau. Primarily this was planned to be the end of the tour. But I still have one and a half day. So I will spend this half day in Zittau and the day tomorrow at Görlitz, where I had to change the train anyway. From the tourist information I get my accommodation at the Hotel Dreiländereck. Now I have plenty of time but in vain stroll to the railwaystation: they cannot find out a better connection for the return journey than that drawn from the internet. The Zittauer Schmalspurbahn comes along whistling - so at last I have seen this unique.

Moreover one should visit the Johanniskirche, once again a certain architect named Schinkel shared to plan this building during the 19th century. There is a famous wooden cassette ceiling. On many signposts you find hints on a curious Großes Zittauer Fastentuch von 1472. To observe this one must go to the Museum zum Heiligen Kreuz (the Fastentuch shows 90 scenes of the bible from the world's creation to the judgement day). At a bookshop I try to buy the novel of Schwarzenberg - in vain.

In the evening we visit the Kapuzinerklause with a waiter disguised as a monk. I choose a sucking-pig dish and after I have consumed this I better had resigned to order a second beer.

Friday, Zittau - Görlitz, 43 km
8.45-13.00, 31.3 km/h max, 13.7 km/h avg

The announced change of the fine weather has come meanwhile. So I am glad about my decision to end the tour by two easy sections. Moreover I suffer from an ache at the achilles tendon and I don't know why. May be it has come from the sandals.

I start with rain and try to ride as slow as possible not to be too early at Görlitz. At Zittau the Neisse-Oder-Radweg has it's begin and it is planned and signed thoroughly. First there is a section at the B 99 but soon the path leads between the Neisse and a shoreslope with many geological peciuliarities. Then we reach Klosterstift Marienthal wondering about this unexpected baroque miraculum. I decide: we will visit this place once again - so I can resign to take a photo at this dull morning.

The next town is Ostritz - the marketplace seems to be greater then the rest of the town. And there are - sorry - plenties of UMG-houses. The rain begins to become stronger, so I retire into a bus cabin - as usual. After some time a worker comes up. He has to empty the garbage boxes. He seems to have all time of the world and we have a chat. By this (talking to locals) you always hear a lot of the region and you can ask what you want. As we say Good Bye the rain has stopped. At the end of the town we meet again and he waves me to stop. He had forgotten to tell: Behind the next lake there would be a gravel factory. They had found the stump of a cypress tree from the ice-age there. And this would to be seen just at the entrance. "Thank you" I say.

And in fact - there is a stump of a tree. It looks quite usual, I cannot prove if this really stems from the ice-age. May be the worker wanted me to be a fool...

At Hagenwerder one can admire the ruins of a former brown coal power station, Some time later we pass the wide surface mining fields of the brown coal. At this point they had an ingenious idea. To protect the waters of the surface fields from those of the river Neisse and vice versa they have built a dam - this time not high but 25 m deep. And on the top there is the fine bike path with a tarmac surface - thank you.

But the landscape is somewhat cleared out. Some years later there will be a new lake as a recreational center. Near Görlitz we enter a park and then pass a mighty arc bridge named Neisse Viadukt. This was planned and built by some wise municipal magistrates during the 19th century. So I am at Görlitz quite early though I have tried to ride as slow as possible.

Soon I enter the tourist information at the Oberer Markt and get a room at the Hotel Goldener Engel. At 2 pm there should be a city guidance and I decide to participate (this is the first time I do this during a bike tour). A Mrs. Hackbeil leads the tour. I am not willing to copy her stories here nor to offer informations of a tourist guide. As a global information it is to be said, that Görlitz during the war did not suffer from damage. Worst thing was the DDR-period when the folks moved out from the ancient city and populated the suburbian Plattenbauten. Meanwhile Görlitz is a UNESCO World Heritage and they have restaurated as much as possible. So they have paved the places and lanes by the original basalt stones which is good for the charm but not for the high heeled shoes.

After the guidance is over we are all soaked from the drizzle. I return to the hotel for a nap. But there is something to be done yet. Görlitz is named Tor zu Schlesien. So you find a special shop offering "Schlesien-ware" only. So there are special road maps with the former German names of the today Polish towns. And a magnifying glass is added. So the old eyes can find the way to their old Heimat.

I buy a set of teacups and a small stove from the famous Bunzlau production. For I cannot return with only dirty cloths in my panniers.

Let us end our tour at the restaurant "Zum Schwippbogen" with  Schlesische Bratwurst, Kartoffelbrei, Sauerkraut and a  Landskronbier or two.

For the ultimate end I will tell a little episode which happened at the next morning. But don't blame me to fuel a prejudice.

We have breakfast at the hotel and 6 guys from Poland come up. They get coffee from the service maid. One of the guys has taken a yoghurt from the buffet. The service girl states: "You have ordered without breakfast, so there is no yoghurt included. OK, take this one as an exception." And then the girl disappears for a while and the guys some time later go out too. And I guess you know the gag when the girl comes back: "Now there is none of the yoghurts yet!!"

Chapter one: Magdeburg - Hof
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