August 4 – Campingplatz am Wald to Geithain (18 km, 11 miles)

August 4 Route Map

I finally got into the hill country today. Up to now, the ride has taken me through the mostly flat northern part of Germany. It was nice riding through that area because I could maintain a pretty constant pace of around 20-25 kilometers per hour. But now the road rises and falls, so it seems to take longer. I like the downhills, but that just means there is the inevitable uphill that follows.

Today was an easy day of just 18 kilometers to Susann Buettner’s house. On the way there I spotted a skateboard park in the town of Colditz. It had a large asphalt surface and no one was there, so I took the opportunity to dry all my wet gear in the sunshine. That lightened my load by a couple of pounds.

As I was passing through the town of Geithain, a black car pulled up to me and the driver rolled down his window and said, “You look like Scott.” I had no idea who the person was, but it was pretty obvious that he was somehow connected to Susann, as she was expecting me to arrive soon. It turned out the driver was Susann’s brother, so he guided me to Susann’s house which was only about 300 meters away.

I had a very nice visit with Susann and her family (parents, grandparents, aunt, and niece). And the timing was perfect – Susann had returned home just yesterday from a year-long trip to Nepal. And what was even stranger was that, about an hour after I arrived, the postman delivered a postcard to Susann that was sent from the Juneau Icefield by Ronny Wenzel, one of the German surveyors. Ronny wrote on the postcard that I should already be in Europe (correct on that – I was sitting right there as Susann read it!).

Susann took me on a walking tour of Geithain, which included roaming around in the town’s 850 year old church. It was pretty amazing to see such an old building, especially since there’s nothing that comes close to being that old in the U.S. We walked along several sections of the old wall that surrounded the town, and saw several of the guard towers with keyhole windows that the guards would shoot arrows through at potential invaders – pretty neat.

Susann and her parents provided great hospitality – it seemed that we were eating non-stop, and in addition to the food, there was plenty of good German beer. We all stayed up till past midnight talking about various things, with Susann acting as the translator because I speak no German and her parents don’t speak English. Overall, a very good day.

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