Harz Mountains, hills, woods, and a plethora of great roads. That was on the menu for the day, preceded by the breakfast menu which by the way was equally diverse.
Got out around the usual time, not too early, not too late. Outside the air was warming up quickly. As the weather forecast indicated, the heatwave in Southern Europe and France had moved northeast. I knew beforehand it would coincide with my day in the region. Further that the temperature would peak on Sunday June 30th.
Well, (hot) shit happens. It could not be helped, in any other way than beginning the journey north, which was out of the question. At least out of the question without having explored the Harz region.
I could not allow weather to interfere with my plans, er… sorry.. “plans”. So they didn’t. Sweltering would be a goo description, well anyhow…
Harz is famous for being the go-to area for Germans who wants to do trekking. A lot of Danish people spend their vacation in Harz, winter or summer. It’s just a few hours drive south of Denmark. Then you have German motorcycle riders who go to Harz in the summer, for the roads. From all over the northeastern region they flock to Harz, especially in the weekends.
I left Braunlage and took a “BundesStrasse” road going south. The smaller pavement roads in Germany, especially the western part, are usually excellent. The Harz roads were no exception. Plenty of motorcycle riders about enjoying the day. I switched to small-road mode on the GPS, and It did not take long before all other motorcyclists were gone.
On a whim a decided on an even smaller road. It quickly changed character, wow.. gravel! I kept on, past a sign I could not read, all of a sudden I was heading into the woods and hills, on gravel!
Oh joy! This wasn’t planned at all. I had hopes I’d find gravel roads, and indeed I did! One particular gravel road led me deeper into the Harz woods and mountains. It was bloody exciting. Open, accessible gravel roads are hard to come by in Germany. Normally you will find barriers and gates. But here there were none!
An offroad El Dorado
I decided it would be totally ok to play a dum tourist. If someone were to stop me then me “not sprechen Deutsch”. But there was absolutely no one but me around. One reason might have been the heat. According to the temp gauge on my instrument panel it climbed past 33C.
Riding in the shades, in-between trees wasn’t too bad though. And I was in a offroad and gravel El Dorado. The GPS mapped a network of roads. So I just kept on!
Many roads went through the woods into villages. Then out on pavement for a short distance, and onto the next gravel and dirt road, into another woodland section.
Some roads I was sensible enough to drop. After all I was alone, with mobile coverage at best scarce, or very poor. One day I’ll go back again, hopefully together with a fellow rider friend. Because lots of roads in these awesome woodlands, mountains and hills, were left unexplored.
When out and about, safety should always be a concern. After some hours and multiple miles traveled, I pulled out of the forest and mountains. Decided to play it safe, in any event I’d gotten far more than I bargained for.
Back on pavement, Harz style
Set the course south, and followed road 85 to towards Rottleberode. Then continued to Kelbra, a district and small town situated north of the Kyffhäuser mountains. This is where one great piece of road begins, with 36 hairpins. Being Sunday there were a lot of bikers riding in the same direction.
Before riding up the Kyffhäuser mountain I stopped at Cafè 36 for some food and refreshments. It sits at the foot of the mountain, at the beginning of the ascending, winding road. Took shelter in the shades. Lots of friendly bikers there out on a Sunday ride. Got into talking with a guy who told me 2 bikers had been killed within the past two weeks.
While there I saw several riders blazing past the cafè in an astonishing, if not say shocking speed. Some doing wheelies just to impress. They didn’t impress me. Downright reckless riding. No wonder people get killed.
I went up and down the road. It’s phenomenal, one really gets to practice riding and cornering skills. On the way down I overtook a couple bikers who obviously were not used to riding curvy roads. I could tell because they opened throttle on straights and used breaks violently into the curves.
The BMW R1200GS Adventure is a phenomenal motorcycle to do hairpins with. And it handles them, with ease, much thanks to its construction, and low center of gravity. It will be hard to find a replacement, a motorcycle as versatile and flexible as the “red cow”.
Lunchtime in the shades
Day had morphed into afternoon when I decided to head back up into the Northern parts of the Harz mountains. Past Allrode I took the L93, a cool, narrow, curvy road, running through narrow gorges and valleys. Stopped in Treseburg, at a place called Zur Jägerstube. It had an inviting look, plus ideal location, situated as it was in a curve of the road, with large overhanging trees.
The temperature was around 33-34C, because of the trees the the places was in the shades. Which made it possible to have a lunch without being fried. Fact to the matter rather pleasant, although I could have wished for a few degrees less heat.
Lunch done I continued on the L934 till it merged with road 94 which is a bigger road. I thought about heading back into the woods and do some more offroad riding, it was great fun. But the heat had me decide to drop it and instead stay on pavement for the rest of the day.
A few miles down the road I saw the name “Pullman City” showing up. What’s that? Never heard of it, so well, gotta check it out!
Turned out to be an American Western looking “town”. With several buildings that I’ve certainly never seen the likes of in Germany before. Among those buildings the Pullman City Biker Ranch, that turned out to be the hang-out place for motorcycle riders.
The interior didn’t leave much to the imagination with regards to the in-keeper’s preferences for motorcycles. Although I prefer to believe the BMW engine glaring at me on entrance, had been turned into a beer tower purely for it’s artistic shapes and curves.
The place was crowded with interesting objects and vehicles, some of which were on display, on the mezzanine right above the bar counter. A banner hinted about the motorcycle preferences of the people here. And indeed, I’ve never seen so many Boss Hoss V8 engine spec’ed motorcycles in one place ever before.
Not my cup of tea, but they’re cool to look at. I don’t know what they’re like to ride but certain they can’t be much for curvy road. But likes or dislikes, diversity is fun, diversity is good, diversity is an important part of life itself!
From Pullman City I rode up in the Northern region of Harz, past Braunlage and my hotel, up in to Torfhaus. Underway I made a rather shocking discovery. Closer to and around Torfhaus, which sits around 800 meters above sea level, there were thousands of thousands of dead trees. Whole sections of the forest had died out.
I should have stopped to take some pictures but I didn’t. It truly was a eerie experience. A guy I met told me it was the drought summer 2018 that killed them. The groundwater in parts of Harz simply dried out completely.
Later afternoon had turned into evening when I returned back to Braunlage and my hotel. An eventful and pretty day ended with a good meal and a couple of pints. The next day I would begin my journey back north and home.