Cycling Tour Final Day Five

September 29 – 

This tour ended with an enormous “bang” as we had great weather and a beautiful, excellent ride to finish this Czech/German cycling adventure. We rode out of the “hill country” leaving Schmilka headed to Dresden. The group actually broke into two parts, four riders and one guide (Milan) for the group that would ride the entire way to Dresden; and the larger group that would cycle about 15-20 miles then catch a paddleboat the rest of the way along the Elbe, north to Dresden.

We began by heading through Bad Schandau, and enjoyed some lovely paths, sights, ferries, and pauses along the way.

Germany’s version of Pilot Knob in North Carolina.
A few climbs but on a bike path like this, who can complain?

Konigstein Fortress was first mentioned when King Wenceslas I of Bohemia affixed his seal on a decree “in lapide Regis” or “on the stone of the king.” In German, Konigstein = King’s Stone. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe, but no longer maintained.

Saw this gaggle before boarding the ferry to head to the opposite bank. Once we got there, we saw the rest of our pack arriving to the ferry landing to cross behind us. We waved but none of them saw us.
Typical path surface and situation during this tour.
It looks like there’s a multi-eyed giant watching us from inside this church.

This raft reminded me of an overstuffed doughnut.

That’s not a person atop the rock, but some sort of sculpture.
This is a boat similar to the one the larger group took (except going the other other way).

Bastei Bridge. The Bastei is a rock formation towering 194 meters above the Elbe River, and is part of the Sandstone Mountain range. In 1819, August von Goethe said, “Here, from where you see right down to the Elbe from the most rugged rocks, where a short distance away the crags of the Lilienstein, Konigstein, and Pffafenstein stand scenically together and the eye takes in a sweeping view that can never be described in words.”


We pulled into the lovely little town of Pirna, definitely a spot to which we must return. Its lovely square sits high-ish above the river. Really pretty. A nice local lady, whose bike was on the rack next ot ours, was asking Jack about his rear-view mirror, attached to his glasses temple. That conversation evolved into Milan doing some translating for her, and then answering her question about our destination for the day—which led to the discovery that our intended path was blocked (under construction), and she recommended a detour to keep us out of the urban traffic. So we unexpectedly ended up re-crossing the river and heading north on the left bank for a while. The detour might have added some miles, but hat addition it was of no consequence.

I have no idea what this is.
More church roof eyes . . .

We stopped for a late lunch about 3 miles outside of Dresden, and enjoyed brats and beer at a lovely old beer garden, soaking up the sun, and savoring our final cycling day.

Quite frankly, arrival in Dresden was anticlimactic. Jack and I were astounded at the progress in rebuilding the city that has been accomplished since our last visit, some 10 years ago.


Milan, Jack, Craig, Mary and I waited for the others outside of our hotel (the QF Hotel), located directly on the main Old Town square of Dresden, and had a celebratory beer. I forgot to mention that we finally reached a full complement of riders on this day. Allen had emerged from the van on Day Three, John on Day Four, and Michael—who, behind our group, elected to ride with Vlasta from the boat all the way to Dresden—on day Five. At least he got one day of riding in — and what a glorious day it was, too.


Our closing celebratory dinner was held at one of the oldest taverns in Dresden, Kurfurstenschanke, founded in 1708. During our meal we met our guide for our exploration of Dresden by night, an actor playing the part on the city’s King Augustus II.


After dinner, we gathered for our tour, and our guide was engaging and funny, articulate and knowledgeable. It was quite a fun tour, although most of us were very tired by this time. It was, however, a good launching point for our free day in Dresden tomorrow.

The moon was out for our night tour. Difficult to capture, but one of my efforts at least turned out okay.

Augustus II, our guide, is depicted in the dark coat with the dark tricorn hat, in the middle-right.


Cycling Stats:

  • Ride time: 2:45 hours
  • Stopped time: 3 hours
  • Distance: 34 miles
  • Average speed: 12MPH
  • Fastest speed: 26.5MPH
  • Ascent: 172 ft.
  • Descent: 359 ft.

Cycling Tour Day Four

This was an intentionally short day, so that the hikers among us could stretch their legs and see scenery to leave the viewer breathless, after our arrival in Schmilka.

Schmilka has been a part of Bad Shandau since 1973, although it was first recorded as a community in 1582. The Ilmen Spring rises nearby and is the most powerful water source in Saxon Switzerland. The stream resulting from this spring drives the Schmilka Mill, built in 1665, and restored in 2007 as a functional mill with lodging (this is where Jack and I and a few others of our group stayed). At this mill, they make beer (good water), bread, and other delicacies that are all locally-sourced and organic. Schmilka offers very limited wifi service (only at the tourist information center) and even a hand-drawn map. The Mill where we stayed is the blue highlight to the middle-right of the drawing.



Along the river ride, the sides of the mountains rose up on both sides of us, high into the sky, leaving us dwarfed. It was truly spectacular, and our route took us out of the Czech Republic 3 times as we crossed its border with Germany (once was on a ferry ride in the middle of the river).



Our last stop for the tour on Czech soil was a very popular village called Hrensko, a border town situated at the heart of the “Czech-Saxon Switzerland,” also a National Park. We stopped along here to exchange some currency and Vlasta bought a couple of bottles of Czech beer, as the price skyrocketed once we had crossed into Germany.

Our little band of Yanks pedaling along the Elbe River.
Ferries like this one ply the waters back and forth across the Elbe, carrying hikers, bikers, and shoppers back and forth.
Hrensko. I’ve put a panorama shot from my iPhone on my FB page in the vicinity of this post notification. Check it out.


The group ate lunch at the mill, then settled into our rooms. Jack and I elected NOT to go on the organized hikes, though many of our group did so. I stayed in our room to edit photos (no wifi necessary) and Jack took a ride to get a few more miles in, up to Bad Schandau, around that spa town, and back. 

The view from our room.

Hot tubs available for after-hike relaxation.

Jack rides down the alley below our balcony to begin his ride to Bad Schandau.


Cycling Stats:

  • Ride time: 46 minutes
  • Stopped time: 2 hours
  • Distance 10.5 miles
  • Average speed: 13.5MPH
  • Fastest speed: 25MPH
  • Ascent: 106 ft.
  • Descent: 141 ft.