In Summer 1992 I cycled from Kiel to Erlangen in four days. The second night I stayed at campsite in the foothills of the Harz. The following one in a bed and breakfast in Gotha (I think). The first day was incredibly hot, so much so that I found it difficult to eat anything. Cycling trough the former DDR was quite an experience. All major roads were being upgraded and maintained and for parts you had cycle along secondary roads that had been turned into enormously long one-way streets. Every town and village had its sewage system upgraded. The former border in the Harz was still very visible. After cycling along a nice valley I arrived quite exhausted in Erlangen where I stayed with friends. (Approximately 400miles/640km in four days)
20 July Kiel – Uelzen 186.7km
For most of the day I followed the B404, which will be more difficult today as the road has been upgraded to a motorway for large parts without providing a cycle path along its old course. I crossed the Elbe in Lauenburg and then joined the B4 or rather its accompanying cycle path. There were (and are) large parts of the B4 that are closed for cyclists and you had to find your way along minor roads.
21 July Uelzen – Hornburg 137.4km
The only thing that I still remember of this day is crossing Braunschweig which took quite a while and that it was very hot, so hot that I found it difficult to eat anything despite being hungry. In the evening I could see the hills of the Harz.
22 Juli Hornburg – Gotha 186km
The day started with a beautiful ride up and through the Harz. I think I cycled past the Okerstausee one of the many reservoirs in that region. There was very little traffic on the roads and being at some altitude made the day very pleasant. I then headed further East, rejoined the B4 and was getting closer to the former border with East Germany that had only disappeared two years earlier. At the time the former border was still very visible. There was still fencing, the forest cleared and abandoned watchtowers. And the road surface changed from tarmac to pavé which was actually quite exciting and enjoyable on a dry day downhill on a very quiet road. However there was a shock to the system when I reached the B81 which had lorries nose to tail and no cycle path. After a short break I pushed on and it was not too bad once you flowed with the traffic. I spent some time that day in monumental traffic jams as East Germany resembled one giant building site. Roads were dug up to put in drainage and sewage pipes and resurfaced in other parts. I left the B4 again for a shortcut through Gotha. Shortly before Gotha I reached a bit of road that was suddenly closed for the next 10km, fortunately my gamble to continue paid off as it was passable by bike. In Gotha I stayed in a friendly B&B. I was too tired for any sightseeing.
23 Juli Gotha – Erlangen 201km
The next day continued in the same way of massive diversions along minor road that had already been upgraded whilst the main road was re-built. At one stage I cycled along 10km long temporary one-way road. And to my surprise there was suddenly the Thuringian Forest which turned out to be just as hilly as the Harz. Still the long ascents were rewarded with rapid descents through places I had never heard of before (Ohrdruf, Suhl, Zella-Mehlis). I crossed into Bavaria near Eisleben, where there was another huge bit road construction going on near the former border. The remainder of the journey to Erlangen was downhill past Coburg and Bamberg. Perhaps the steep climbs earlier in the day had changed my perception but I can not remember a single hill. For some parts I followed the Rhein-Main-Donau Kanal in others the B4 again.
This was a very enjoyable trip by bike. I used my tenet and sleeping bag apart from the night in Gotha as I couldn’t find a campsite anywhere. It was quite breathtaking to see all the building work going on in the former East Germany. And it was four days of cycling without a spot of rain, in fact it was one of the hottest summers in Germany with record temperatures.