Tour de Odenwald - Day 2
While our route for the first day was planned without any sights in mind, we did have a few things that we wanted to swing by on day two.
Our first stop was Erbach, the next town to Michelstadt. Those two have grown so close together they're actually more one single city these days. We initially mostly wanted to stop there to find some breakfast and take a quick peek at the castle there. But when we walked from the bakery to the town square to sit down and eat our breakfast, we realized that the old town center of Erbach is also really cute. So after breakfast we walked around a bit to take it all in before heading out again.
After breakfast we finally were on the move again. Out of the bigger towns and into the truly rural areas. On our way for the day we came through a whole bunch of little villages, some of which are really just a few houses on the hillside.
Our first stop for the day was supposed to be the Himbächel Viadukt. The huge railroad bridge built from red sandstone was originally built in the 1880s to connect Darmstadt through the Odenwald to the Neckar region and at the time required a lot of wits and skill to plan and build. It is still in use today.
Right after the Himbächel Viadukt we took a little detour to get to our next stop. And darn what a detour it was - we rode up a very steep hill and down the other side, all on a forest road with thick gravel, to get to the lake.
The Marbachstausee itself was initially built to control the waterflows of the river Mümling and especially to prevent flooding. Today it has several uses, inlcuding the generation of electricity, as well as recreational uses such as swimming and sailing. Parts of it are declared conservation areas for bird species and obiously can't be used for recreational activities.
When we came by the lake was unfortunately closed off due to corona to prevent people from gathering there. Otherwise it would have been a great place to cool down for a bit.
We returned to our original route via the same rough forest road and then continued on. The road was now slightly uphill most of the time and gave our basically untrained bodies quite a bit of a workout. When we were close to Beerfelden and could aready see the town on top of the next hill we had reached the longest and steepest ascent for that section of the trip.
And darn it was steep within the city! I was on my lowest gear and going maybe 1 km/h, with cars right behind me because we were on a busy road. Not my thing, so I got off the bike at the next intersection and pushed my bike on the sidewalk through the steepest part. If we had to do it again, we would have planned the route to lead us around the city instead of going right through it.
But once we had passed through Beerfelden, our pains were rewarded with a wonderful, long stretch of road slanted ever so slightly downhill. But not just that, from here down to Hirschhorn the scenery is so beautiful, it was such a joy to ride through. Open grassy fields and villages alternate with forests smelling of pine trees. Here the villages are draped across the shoulders of the hills just like in the alps - minus the high, gray mountains on top. But it's really just plain beautiful.