Tuesday, May 31, 2011
A Bergisches Land Loop: April 25, 2011
Following our successful excursion to Liège over the Easter Weekend, my friend Nick invited me to ride in his neck of the woods, the Bergisches Land. My first excursion there in October had not gone so well as I fell off my bicycle but I was pretty confident after two days of riding the Ardennes, so I took my little rental car down the A3 towards Cologne in preparation for an excellent day of cycling. I found my way to Nick’s house in Neunkirchen-Seelscheid without any problem and unloaded the Specialized Tarmac. The weather, as it had been for the whole weekend, was superb.
We were to be joined by a third rider but he could not be there as his daughter had been stung by a bee and was off to the hospital so it was just the two of us who pulled out. For a moment the ride went well but on our first tiny hill I suddenly discovered that I could not shift gears with my rear derailleur very well. From all the taking off and putting on of wheels over the last few days the mechanism had gotten out of calibration but a few turns on the adjusting barrel and it was all fine again.
Riding through the quiet green countryside, our ride began with a gentle descent until we reached 14 kms, when the first hill of the day made us work as we made our way up to Göpringhausen, passing an old paper mill on the way. We continued past horse farms and wide field until we reached the picturesque little village of Ruppichteroth, where we stopped briefly to look at the old church and the excellent half-timbered houses. There was a fine flower-bedecked fountain to admire, and after admiring it we left the village (taking us on a route not expected by Nick) we climbed up out of the valley and heading south. Soon we had a noble descent that brought us to Herchen, where we rode for a while on the Sieg bicycle path, a smooth asphalt track that runs alongside the river for around 140 kms.
A break for a fine cup of coffee in Eitorf and then it was time for our big hill challenge of the day as we crossed the Sieg and began an impressive ascent from Bourauel to Hohn, gaining 150 m in only 2 kms. When we got to the top and admired the view, I mentioned to Nick the benefits of interval training on a nice steady hill like this, so of course we turned around and rode it all over again at racing speed. I think my Ardennes rides really helped as I felt quite good on the climb and enjoyed a little sprint on reaching the flat stretch at the top.
After we had recovered a bit from this exertion, we rode into an area that was new to Nick, so we got a bit lost but soon he found the correct way after a dead end in Stockum. There was a lot of climbing left in the course as I found out in Winterscheid as my legs were beginning to make their displeasure known. “Shut up, legs!”, to quote Jens Voigt, and so they did and so we went on, including a rather brutally steep little climb to bring us back to Neunkirchen-Seelscheid. It had been an excellent ride on quiet roads, and a bit of a challenge, covering 85.59 and 1300 m vertical. And of course we enjoyed a great big ice cream each at the end!