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Lost and Found

Lauenstein to Blankenstein
Written 13.7.10

I spent most of the day lost and an unfortunate amount of time on foot, pushing my bike. It took me two hours to make it 14k to Lehesten, contending with grades of 16% and steep hills unmarked by my map. This, combined with terrible road conditions made riding difficult. Last night’s rain had indeed cooled the land and water dripped from the trees and ran off my helmet while my feet were soaked by puddles and mud while I scrambled up the first set of hills. Later, I found myself on a particularly bad section of the Kolonnenweg, pacing a flat area by a shelter hut, checking my compass, completely confused. I was afraid of making an irreversible downhill mistake, but I eventually took the steep road anyway. I seriously doubted my ability to make it back up this section of the Kolonnenweg, at least without a rope, and entered a shady valley with trepidation. Before too long, though, I found a signpost to Brennersgrün, where I got back on track, and later, caught up with the Rennsteig, with a few tips from a biker going my way. My afternoon kick was surprisingly strong and I rolled into Blankenstein tired, but in good time, and stayed the night at a Bett und Bike Pension.

I spoke to my dad on the phone later that night, telling him about the incredible grade along the Kolonnenweg and he commented, “well I guess they put the fence wherever they wanted.” This was a clear summary of many of my experiences biking directly on the border. The Kolonnenweg stops for nothing. It is usually here that I find the most extreme grades and most difficult riding conditions. Yet another testament to the determination of the GDR to secure their border, but also a comment on the border’s geographical placement. It makes sense that people are divided by wild, hilly terrain (this is also the ancient border between Thuringria and Bayren) simply because it is difficult to cross but easy to fortify…

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