[ blog » 2022 ]Ride: Hessen ( by Philipp Gesang, location: the bike shed)

North, part 3 / 4 of the “four points of the compass” mini-series of rides. The objective: a return trip to the northern border with the federal state of Hesse.

The ride was kind of hellish from the get-go. I was relying on weather forecasts that predicted no rain. So when around 8 h, about 3 h into the ride, it started raining relentlessly, I had no choice but to continue in my shortsleeve jersey. The air hadn’t even warmed up at that point so I ended up a bit hypothermic and my arms went numb. It rained continuously for about two hours and my biggest fear was that my phone might short out because of course I didn’t bring a rain cover.

At Sinsheim, around 110 km, I had reached the other side of the rain cloud. I had an oatmeal cake while I was marveling at the Concorde and Tu-144 exhibits of the Sinsheim Museum and went on my way towards the Neckar.

A couple of short climbs later I celebrated the completion the main objective of the day by crossing into Hesse near Neckarsteinach, the town of three castles. This lightened my mood a little so I decided spontaneously to visit the place where I lived for a few years in Schlierbach and take the tourist route via the Schloß-Wolfsbrunnenweg to the Old Town. After I finished the sightseeing I left via Leimen. The shoddy bike path down there hasn’t been mended in the last fifteen years at least and gave my tires a beating as expected. But I thought nothing of it as the sky was clearing up and sunshine boosted my spirit.

I wasn’t exactly surprised when the puncture happened. No problem though, I had a spare tube. I thoroughly cleaned the inside of the tire as it was still soaked from the rain. In retrospect I probably should have gone straight to the next train station at that point and redo the tube job at home in a clean environment. Stubborn and hypoglycemic me chose otherwise, and the new tube felt great so I got back on the bike to complete the ride. Why not eh?

Reality’s punishment for my hybris struck swiftly around 40 km later just before a fun descent in to the town of Pforzheim. Ironically it happened when I had to switch from the clean road to a mandatory bike path. Dirt and large pieces of sharp gravel had accumulated there at the side of the road which I had to cross, and I must have hit one of them cause the tire blew out instantly. Out of spare tubes I whipped out the repair patches. I managed to locate the puncture but the patch didn’t hold. I could get the tire semi-inflated before it went flat again. The glue on those patches was too old and dried out by now probably.


Instead of losing more time fiddling around with those patches I decided to push the bike and walk to the next train station. Luckily I was on the outskirts of Pforzheim so that station was less than five kilometers away. Had to take off those cleated shoes though and walk in socks which was rather painful due to the copious amounts of razor sharp gravel left on the sidewalk that stuck around from last winter. Thanks to which my soles are now covered in hideous blisters.

To add insult to injury the ticket machine – naturally, the counters were closed! – at the station couldn’t sell me a bike spot on the faster connections home but it would sell me a bike ticket for slow regional trains that I was told by the ticket inspector was unnecessary on that connection. Predictably lousy performance by Deutsche Bahn as per usual, only topped by the crowd of taxi drivers at Tübingen main station that refused to take the bike in the trunk of their enormous Mercedes cars. What an unmotivated bunch. Eventually, it only took minutes, one of them agreed to take me home. A hero of our times.

218 km, with 2053 m of elevation gain.


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