The start of day 3 was the same deal as day 2 ... 4.30am alarm and away by 5am.
This time we were straight onto the tank plate then off for a short while then back on for what was the longest straight I think I have ever ridden 3 or 4 km long. Gunnar had warned us today was the start of the ‘real’ Grenzstein… kicking off with the 1100m peak called the Brocken… we would pass through the Harz mountains that day and the hills would start.
We made the first 50 or so km pretty easy and found a guesthouse for coffee and a coke. Then we started the 7km ish climb from around 200m to 1100m, the climb started nicely through woodland on gravel then onto tank plate, a brief break from climbing on a rocky fireroad descent then back into it with the final 3km being a push up 20 % plus gradient tank plate… nearing the top the weather was raining hard and misty ... a mast appearing out of the mist signified the top.
I knew Gunnar was ahead but when I reached the top and circled the many little cafe’s I couldn’t locate his bike… guessing he didn’t wanna stay up there long I descended off the top in pursuit.. the descent chilled me and it took a while before feeling came back into my hands. I rode pretty hard for an hour with no sign of Gunnar ahead of me on the trail.
I kept riding until I reached a section crossing gravel, here tyre tracks were obvious and there was only one which must have been Renes. I decided to stop and wait for 10 minutes… then 20 minutes… then 30 minutes… when 40 minutes passed I switched on my phone to receive a message from Phil to let me know that he had met with Gunnar at the summit of the Brocken ... somehow I had missed them. I waited getting Grace at home to try and track them down using the Spot trackers we carried… after an hour they showed up and we were back riding as a group again.
The weather continued to get worse after descending the Brocken and we were riding in pretty miserable rain, after 125 ish km ridden we reached a small town, Neuhof, the guys managed to locate a guesthouse… it was only 4pm in the afternoon so I wasn’t keen to stop but was keen to eat so we stopped in for food. After a while it was clear that Phil and Gunnar were not keen to continue riding in the rain. As a Brit rain is our thing… we always have it so always ride in it… I toyed with the idea of continuing alone but knowing myself decided I would fair better in a group so stayed.
Gunnar suggested that night a possible alternative to the set course… some 300km shorter… I really wasn’t keen to go down that road so was happy when it seemed this idea had gone and we were focused on getting this thing finished.