Sunday, 31 October 2010

Day 43 Austria 31/10/2010 Linz – Mauthausen – Grein – Ybbs. 54.07miles/87.32km, 4hr46minutes, Av 11.3mph.

Happy Halloween everyone!

We had a good night's rest; the extra hour in the morning was especially welcome! Breakfast in the hostel was the standard European buffet affair. Which definitely beats getting out of a cold tent to cook in the morning.

With full stomachs and still warm from the hostel ,we loaded up attracting a bit of attention as we did so. An Australian guy said good on us and wished us well for our trip. We rode out of the hostel in a cheerful mood.

The plan today was to ride about 60kms to Grein, where there was an open camp-site that had cabins if we wanted one. We had got away in good time this morning, and as the going was very easy we made good progress. It has to be said though that the first part of the route was pretty boring. There were however some quite dramatic skies early on and a terrific view of the mountains across the Danube.

Being Sunday pretty much everything was closed and even the first open bakery we came too had very little bread. The added problem facing us at the moment is that it is a Europe wide Catholic holiday tomorrow as well. Giving up on the bakery we continued on our way, reaching Grein at about 12:30pm. Much earlier than we had expected.

While eating lunch in a café we discussed what to do next. Stopping in Grein seemed a little pointless as we had arrived so early and had the chance to shorten two potentially long days to Vienna. Feeling fit after lunch we set off again bound for Ybbs, which was approx 20km further down the road. The route was mostly along a main road with a narrow cycle lane. The traffic was comparatively light though so even when the lane ended it wasn't too bad. The scenery improved dramatically as well, as we had entered a narrow valley. We got into Ybbs at about 3pm found a guest-house and got settled in. Dinner and a well earned beer soon, tomorrow could be interesting as we don't know what will be open!

Day 42 Austria 30/10/2010 Peuerbach–Wizenkirchen–Aschach–Linz. 38.11miles/61.59km, 3hr23minutes, Av 11.2mph

We bid a fond farewell to Franz and Brigitte this morning and got back on the road. This time I followed Franz's instructions and we found our way back to the Danube with the minimum of fuss. Some of it was even in bright sunlight although the Aschach valley was quite foggy.

Rejoining the cycle path it was a straightforward ride to Linz, mainly along the now much wider Danube. Being Saturday Linz was quite busy, so we made our way through the city centre following Franz's instructions to the hostel we would be staying at. Why they need to put all the hostels on hills is beyond us, but we had been forewarned by Franz. Fortunately even though reception was closed until 4pm we were allowed to check in.

A quick shower later and we took the bus back into the city centre to have a look around.

It was really nice to arrive early and an afternoon was probably long enough to get a feel for Linz. It is a bustling city with some lovely buildings and a good selection of shops. We had lunch sitting in the square outside the Cathedral (no scaffolding!), bought some new books to read and took in the view of the Danube from the cities bridge.

Tired we headed back to the hostel, where I got some internet and blogging done while Debbie rested. As there seemed to be some kind of function on in the hostel, we had dinner in a nearby café and then returned to our room. We even remembered to change our clocks, being up an hour early for breakfast would have been tragic!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Day 41 Austria 29/10/2010 Peuerbach. All on foot.

We decided to stay put for one more day and get the blog and some of our photos up to date. We were joined by Franz's daughter and baby granddaughter for lunch and then had a brief explore of Peuerbach in the afternoon.

We are very thankful to Franz and Brigitte for their hospitality in letting us stay. We had a lovely time and hopefully we will see them again in the not too distant future.

Franz we will remember to keep our ears stiff and hope you do the same!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Day 40 Austria & Germany 28/10/2010 Peuerbach. No Bicycles only cars and feet!

We both had a long lay in and then a nice leisurely breakfast. The morning was spent trying to plan our forthcoming route and catching up with emails etc.

After a lovely light lunch prepared by Brigitte (Franz's wife) Franz took us to some thermal baths in Bad Füssing, Germany to soak away our aches and pains. As the main sauna area was all nude, we became very acquainted with more naked Germans than we could possibly imagine! Rather strangely you then had to put on a swimming costume to go through to the swimming area. As Franz pointed out, they were all the same people who had been in the other section.

Unlike the last baths we had visited this was the real thing, with lots of hot pools one of which was 43°C and too hot to stay in for long. The saunas were lovely although we couldn't stay in the 90°C room that Franz liked. Clearly you need lots of years of conditioning for that kind of heat. While Franz went for one last visit in the hot room, we settled for the cooler Kartoffel (potato) sauna. We timed it right, or wrong depending on your thoughts on greased up naked Germans, to be given some butter exfoliant to use whilst in the sauna. We followed the lead of everyone else and rubbed it on ourselves and then wondered what we were supposed to do next. Still unsure, we went to the showers to wash it off, some of the others seemed to follow our lead while some strolled around outside all oiled up. Perhaps that was why it was called the potato sauna, as I felt like a new potato that had been rolled in butter!

Feeling much more relaxed, we left the baths and stopped in the pretty town of schärding for a well deserved beer on the way home. When we got home Brigitte had made a lovely goulash, which was just what we needed after a strenuous day of doing very little! More beer, wine and conversation rounded off a lovely day.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Day 39 Austria 27/10/2010 Passau–Niederrana–Wiezenkirchen–Peuerbach. 43.10miles/, 4hr32minutes, Av 9.5mph.

We woke up in a lovely warm room, had filled rolls and cakes for breakfast and headed out on to the road.

Leaving Passau was straightforward, although the road was very busy for the first few kilometres. We followed the northern bank of the Danube until Niederrana and then crossed over. The Danube has very few crossing points on this stretch and most of the cycle ferries have stopped running for the season.

From Niederrana we stuck to the B130 main road as we were leaving the Danube behind at Schlögen to head towards Franz's house in Peuerbach. Having opted for the in-between route to Peuerbach, we climbed steadily for 6kms and then according to Franz's instructions we had a 4km descent. At least we would have, if I had followed the instructions clearly! I got the order a bit wrong and as soon as I saw the sign for Wiezenkirchen we turned right, unaware there was another turning 4kms down the road. We then had an extremely steep climb for another few kilometres followed by a terrific descent of about 5kms. Later we were informed by Franz that we may as well have taken the short steep route as it would have been as easy as the way we came. Once again the need for a proper map and someone who pays attention was highlighted.

From Wiezenkirchen we followed the B129 over another steep hill, because we couldn't find the alternative route. The lack of a map covering this area made the direct route sound like a safer bet. We eventually made it into Peuerbach via a very fast descent into the town.

My instructions for finding Franz's house proved useless and after Debbie got fed up of us riding round and round, we rang Franz who came to meet us. Clearly highlighting the different navigational styles of men and women!

It was lovely to see Franz again, especially as he had a welcome beer at the ready. We had dinner at a local inn and then spent the evening looking at his photo books from our trip together. All whilst enjoying a nice glass of wine. Which had the added bonus of helping Debbie forgive me for taking the wrong route!

We passed the 2000km mark today, a rest is definitely in order.


Day 38 Germany 26/10/2010 Waltendorf – Deggendorf – Passau. 50.22miles/81.56kms, 4hr24minutes, Av11.4mph.

We woke up this morning, looked out at the frosty ground and enjoyed the fact that we were in a toasty room. The guest-house boss had managed to take the restaurant keys home with him last night, so we had breakfast brought to our room instead. To be fair we were the only guests and he did open especially for us yesterday.

From a warm room to a very chilly morning, we got loaded and back on the road. About 3kms down the road, after barely having left the guest-house, I got yet another puncture in my back wheel! This time I decided I would have to swap the front and rear tyres over, so the repair took a little longer than planned. The cold weather didn't help either.

With both wheels back on we set off once again. Despite the fog, cold and puncture we covered the distance well and by the time we stopped for lunch we were two thirds of the way to Passau.

Despite the usual after lunch heavy legs, we continued our way to Passau via an enormous set of locks on the Danube and across some huge sluice gates. On arrival in the city we failed to find our first choice guest-house near the train station. So carrying on along the Danube route we headed towards the cities youth hostel.

The hill to the youth hostel was so impossibly steep, that after a short attempt we came to our senses and went to look for somewhere else to stay. I stopped at the tourist information office to pick up a city map and enquire about the location of our first choice guest-house. The lady kindly phoned the place, checked that they had space and then explained where exactly it was. Heading back to the train station where we started, we found the place we were looking for. Armed with the slightly cryptic instructions of 'you have to go into the bakery' our puzzled looks soon attracted a member of staff who sent us round the back with our bikes.

The 'Fahrrad-Pension' as it turns out is basically a hostel with secure parking for bicycles. This time we have a 6 bed dorm to ourselves and it is very warm, plus it's cheaper than the youth hostel.

After settling in, we went to an internet café and checked our emails to make sure we could still stay with Franz in Peuerbach, Austria. Everything is fine for us to go, all we have to survive are the hills to his house. He even gave us three options to take, steep and short, much further and not so strenuous and somewhere in between. Will let you all know which one we go for tomorrow.

Tonight is our last night in Germany, we hope Austria is as good to us.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Day 37 Germany 25/10/2010 Regensberg–Straubing–Waltendorf. 47.81miles/77.08km, 4hr03minutes, Av 11.7mph.

The rain has gone and we didn't freeze during the night, so it boded well for the day. Our route today was mostly along sealed roads so we made good progress. So much so that we made a diversion into Straubing that we hadn't planned.

Debbie managed to buy some new gloves; hopefully they are warm and waterproof as advertised, not cold and leak like the previous pair.! We also managed to get some more fuel for the stove, which seems to be burning it more heavily in the cold weather. Lunch in a bakery was also a welcome diversion from the cold.

Leaving Straubing, we were getting along well until I had yet another puncture! I really must change my front and rear tyres over, as the punctures all seem to be in the same place and the tyre is getting quite worn. Clearly I must be heavier on the rear tyres than Debbie, or just unfortunate.

I soon got the inner tube replaced and we were back on the road. The headwind slowed us down a little, but we still made it to Waltendorf by early afternoon. It turns out that today is a rest day in Germany. Nevertheless the guest house owner got us a room, a cold beer and has arranged food for us for this evening. It seems the 'Plank-Hof' in Waltendorf is the place to stay if you are a touring cyclist. The guest book has many entries from cyclists from around the world, including some honeymooners from Norwich, bound for Turkey.

We should get a nice rest tonight ready for tomorrows ride into Passau.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Day 36 Germany 24/10/2010 Regensburg. All on foot.

As appears usual on our rest days we woke up to rain. Having picked up a leaflet for a spa and sauna from the camp-site, we decided to spend the morning there. We obviously misunderstood the German term for spa though as it was really just a big swimming pool with a separate sauna area. We couldn't believe how cold the water in the pool was! Fortunately another pool was much warmer and we spent a pleasant hour soaking our tired limbs. The hot spa will have to wait for another day!

After we had been back to the camp-site for lunch, we had a longer than predicted stroll to the town centre. The walk was well worth it though, as we found a thoroughly charming town with pretty painted buildings, narrow streets and a scaffold free cathedral!

Regensburg is the furthest north that the Danube tour boats can go, so it was quite novel to see the different nationalities and large tour groups that we haven't seen for a while.

From now on we should generally be heading south east, hopefully towards the warmer weather. Two more days and we will say goodbye to Germany, Austria beckons.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Day 35 Germany 23/10/2010 Ingolstadt – Weltenburg – Kelheim – Regensburg. 50.61miles/81.09km, 4hr44minutes, Av 10.7mph.

While still cold, the night was definitely warmer than last. We had quite a long day ahead of us, so we packed and got on the road as quickly as possible. Unfortunately we had to back track a few kilometres towards Ingolstadt because there was no bridge across the Danube near our camp-site. Going backwards before you start is never a good thing, especially with a 50 mile day ahead of you.

We rejoined the Danube route and continued towards Weltenburg. From Weltenburg we hoped to take a ferry along the Danube to Kelheim. This was to serve two purposes, give us a break from cycling and avoid a few steep hills! We were following the marked route with no trouble, until we decided to take a shorter route along the river that was clearly marked on our map as a paved cycle track. The track turned out to be unsigned and nothing more than a potholed dirt track. What should have been a quick cut through turned out to be nothing of the sort. It was with some relief that we arrived in Weltenburg and bought two tickets for the ferry.

As we had missed the 12:30pm ferry we had 45minutes to kill, so we had an early lunch. During this time we met a very nice German guy who, through very little English and our even poorer German, explained that he had a touring cycle and was going on a 5000km tour next year.

When it came time to board the boat we were ushered to the front because we had bicycles. This didn't seem to please the huge amount of OAPs who were waiting to board. The ferry to Kelheim is a sightseeing boat and takes about 20minutes to travel downstream and about 40minutes the other way. Any later in the year and it wouldn't have been running. The journey was quite pleasant, the boat was warm and they served coffee. The scenery was also very nice as we sailed through a narrow gorge, passing several castles along the way.

We may have been first on, but the other end we had to wait for everyone to get off and then fight through the crowds of people who seemed content to stop as soon as they had left the boat. As soon as we were back on the road we made good progress and the weather eventually started to get a bit warmer.

We had a random moment when we were stopped by a guy dressed in lederhosen, who told us it was 'his day' and he had to swap something with us. It turned out from his friends that he was getting married and swapping things with passers by is clearly a local custom. One of our bread rolls for a stale pretzel wasn't the best of swaps, but we didn't have much else.

The short boat trip and random moment had done us good and we arrived at our camp-site in Regensburg at about 4pm, earlier than we had thought. Cycling for 7 days straight had caught up with us and after a few too many beers we headed to the tent for the night. Rest day tomorrow!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Day 34 Germany 22/10/2010 Donauworth–Marxheim–Neuburg–Ingolstadt. 43.97miles/70.5km, 4hr12minutes, Av10.4mph.

Well, we survived the night, just! The tent was covered in ice this morning and a freezing mist hung in the air. After several trips to the wash rooms to defrost our hands we got loaded and on our way.


The first part of our journey was again off the map as we planned to rejoin the main route further along. With some more google map instructions we were doing fine, until the directions sent us in to a quarry. We have no idea whether we could have got through to our destination, but we didn't want to chance it. Heading back to the main road, which wasn't much fun in the fog, we carried on hoping for another sign. We eventually came out much further up the road than we had planned and had to wend our way northwards to rejoin the Danube.

The cycling was very tough this morning, especially as we couldn't feel our feet and hands due to the unrelenting cold weather. We rejoined the Danube at Marxheim and pressed on to Neuburg via a long steep hill.


With about 30kms to do in the afternoon we stopped in Neuburg, had lunch in a bakery and rode around the attractive town. The stop allowed us to defrost a bit and buoyed on by the appearance of the sun we got to Ingolstadt in good time. The camp-site took a bit of finding, by way of a busy main road and a large industrial area.

Tipping the tent out of the bag gave a moment of humour, as when we shook it some snowballs rolled out. They must have been made when we rolled the frozen tent up in the morning. Lets hope it's a little warmer tonight!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Day 33 Germany 21/10/2010 Riedheim–Hochstädt–Gundelfingen–Donauworth. 48.71miles/78.63km, 4hr16minutes, Av 11.3mph.

It rained quite hard in the night, but was dry and cold when we woke up. It is taking a long time for the sun to come up in the mornings. This will improve a little when the clocks change.

We set off in the cold heading for Donauworth, or at least nearby as the camp-site was off our map! We always knew there would be days you hated and wanted to give up, well today was mine. Apart from about 5kms besides the Danube looking at lots of birds, the tracks were muddy mainly through dull farmland. Even the very few settlements we went through held no real interest. The whole day felt like one big slog! Debbie kept a brave face on, but struggled with my bad mood.

We eventually made it to the camp-site via some google maps directions and got settled. The temperature outside had been dropping severely so we had a couple of beers in the very warm but smoky bar. When we left the bar the ground was crunchy underfoot. Looks like it is going to be a very cold night!

On a happier note we passed the 1000 mile mark today!


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Day 32 Germany 20/10/2010 Ehingen–Ulm–Riedheim. 35.52miles/57.16km, 3hr08min, Av 11.4mph.

We woke up all warm for a change. Guest-houses may be dearer than camping but they do have there compensations and the breakfast was nice as well.

We were packed up and ready to go in double quick time this morning. Even the hill that greeted us 5 minutes from the hotel didn't trouble us. The route today was mostly along quiet roads and cycleways with the odd very muddy section. Whoever said mudguards are not necessary, has obviously never been hit from flying debris from your partner's bicycle!

For the most part we avoided most places of civilisation. Only when we reached Ulm did we stop in the town and have a look at the Cathedral (Dom), it's been a while since we have seen a good one. It was of course covered in scaffolding! Ulm appeared to have more bakeries per square metre than anywhere else we have visited, which was great for us. German sunflower seed bread is lovely.

With the afternoon came rain, so it was fortunate that we didn't have far to go. We found the camp-site with ease and got pitched as the rain stopped. With plenty of the day left we planned our movements for the coming days and made full use of the best camp-site showers we have seen for a while.

Strong winds and dark skies are looming, so it's batten down the hatches until tomorrow. Night all.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Day 31 Germany 19/10/2010 Sigmaringen–Riedlingen–Obermarchtal–Munderkingen–Ehingen. 45.1miles/73.23km, 4hr10min, Av 10.8mph.

It was by far the coldest night last night. Neither of us wanted to get out of bed this morning. By the time I had got breakfast ready my hands and feet were frozen. The joys of living in a tent and alfresco dining!

Apart from the cold the cycling day started well, we picked up the route and made our way towards Riedlingen. The wind was for once at our backs and we made very good progress. Even lots of roadworks and poorly signed diversions at Riedlingen barely delayed us.

We were making such good progress that 60kms before lunch looked possible, leaving us with a short afternoon. We clearly spoke too soon! The hill we encountered just outside Zwiefaltendorf coming into Datthausen was so steep that I have to admit we both ended up getting off and pushing. I managed about half way then I simply couldn't turn my legs fast enough to keep going. Once I stopped I couldn't restart and even pushing was very tough. I ended up laying my bike over and going to rescue Debbie further down the hill. Even with two of us pushing it was a struggle especially with slippery leaves underfoot. With no luggage, I don't doubt we would have made it. Laden as we are, I hope to not encounter too many more of these!

When we finally got our breath back, the rest of the route was relatively straight forward. We sped into Obermarchtal, continued through Munderkingen and the humorously named Rottenacker, and arrived in Ehingen at about 3pm.

With no camp-site for miles we checked into the guest-house Sonne, looking forward to a warm night and comfy bed.

The town of Ehingen is reasonably attractive, but certainly not on the scale of some that we have visited. Nevertheless we had a nice coffee and doughnut and a large meal in the guest-house restaurant. Hopefully we will wake up refreshed and warm for tomorrow.

PS Debbie reached 30mph today! She was very excited albeit a little scared!


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Day 30 Germany 18/10/2010 Engen–Immendingen–Tuttlingen–Hausen–Sigmaringen. 48.56miles/78.38km, 4hr54m, av 9.9mph.

A grey cold morning today, although the tent has kept quite warm during the night. The only problem is leaving it!

We rather underestimated the terrain that we would be travelling through today and had set ourselves a decent distance to the next stop. After effectively climbing for the first 12kms of the day, it became apparent that we might not make it as far as we had planned. A final 2km descent into Immendingen helped, but didn't really make up for the already tired legs that we were suffering from.

The mighty Danube was really little more than a small river where we joined it and on relatively level ground we started to claw back some of the time we lost earlier. The route into Tuttlingen was quite straightforward and we rejoined the Eurovelo 6 signs that should guide us all the way to the Black Sea.

Due to the shops being closed on Sunday we had to make a quick dash into a supermarket for supplies, which ate up more of our day. Sigmaringen was starting to look unlikely.

Nevertheless we pressed on with the route and entered what must be one of the most beautiful areas we have yet passed through. From Mülheim to Beuron the Danube follows a narrow gorge which along with the autumnal colours of the leaves made for a breathtaking sight. The hills through the trees were somewhat breathtaking as well! Especially as the hard packed track we were on was a bit sticky due to the recent rains.

We made it to Beuron and having had enough of the sticky tracks, Debbie suggested we took the road instead. With no idea of the terrain it was a bit of a gamble, which fortunately paid off. We soon got back to making good progress, plus we got to ride through some albeit short tunnels. The next 20kms went quickly and we made it to Sigmaringen in reasonable time.

It has been our hardest day yet but we got through it, hopefully tomorrow will be a little easier.

A special mention has to go to Debbie today, she really struggled early on with the hills. She never gave up and never got off her bike to push, even though I felt like it at times.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Day 29 Switzerland/Germany 17/10/2010 Wagenhausen–Ramsen–Singen–Mühlhausen–Engen 18.91miles/30.5km, 2hr11minutes, av 8.6mph.

Woke up to grey skies and drizzly rain. Not far to go today due to the uneven distances of the camp-sites. We also took a bit of a short cut off the official route and decided to avoid riding around the shore of the Bodensee/Lake Constance.

Today we officially said farewell to Switzerland when we crossed the border in Ramsen. The plan was to carry on across country and then rejoin the Eurovelo route 6 at Singen. Clearly the reason that no maps exist for this section is the fact that they haven't put any signs up yet. At the very least we couldn't find them!

Fortunately we had a compass as we followed the cycle route signs through Singen. If we had stayed on the marked route we would have ended up very west of where we were supposed to be. We soon got ourselves heading back in the right direction and by way of a few of the omnipresent hills we made it to Mülhausen. From there it was a straight ride into Engen.

The camp-site seems nice, although we as yet haven't found anyone to pay and it's at the top of a steep hill. Still it's nice to arrive at lunchtime and have a leisurely afternoon.

We have a long one tomorrow as we pick up the main route along the Danube. A beer may be in order tonight!

PS. A beer was indeed in order, as was a funny evening in the restaurant with some of the camp-site residents. We quickly had all of them discussing the merits/stupidity of trying to cycle to South Africa. All this was translated through the one English speaking resident.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Day 28 Switzerland 16/10/2010 Wagenhausen/Stein am Rhein.

It was wet and cold this morning, so we are giving our legs a rest before we make a big push onwards over the next few days. The forecast is suggesting the possibility of snow, so we are hoping that doesn't happen.

We took a stroll into Stein am Rhein to have a look at the lovely buildings and pick up a few supplies for tomorrow. We should be waving goodbye to Switzerland from tomorrow as we head north into Germany.

Take care all.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Day 27 Switzerland/Germany 15/10/2010 Zurzach–Rafz–Schaffhausen–Diessenhoffen–Stein am Rhein–Wagenhausen. 38.57miles/62.45km,4hr06minutes, av 9.4mph

Very cold this morning but dry at least. We crossed the Rhein once again and continued through Germany along our way. The road if anything was hillier than the day before and we began to feel like we were pedalling for ages and making very little progress.

Once again the border changed quite regularly. Which if you are planning on buying things must make for a bit of a headache, as to which currency you need. There are even some border signs and barriers along dirt tracks and through woodland.

After what had felt like an all day climb we came to the outskirts of Scaffhausen and immediately were greeted with a terrific downhill section right down to the Rhein. The only trouble was that the now Swiss cycle signs wanted us to go back up the otherside. We were rapidly running out of gears on the 15% hill, that would take us back to the main route. When the track then turned to gravel and we were greeted with two 20% descents and a fallen tree, we were beginning to wonder if the signs were wrong. The route then took us back over the Rhein, which begs the question why we didn't stay the other side in the first place!

With 20km to go Debbie started getting a lot of knee pain and we rather limped our way past Diessenhofen, which had a lovely wooden bridge across the Rhein. From there on, it was another steep climb and then a descent into the very pretty town of Stein am Rhein. The mural painted buildings are like something out of a fairytale. We crossed the Rhein once again and eventually made it to a very nice camp-site and are currently camped right by the Rhein. If it wasn't about 500m to the showers, it would be even better.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Day 26 Switzerland/Germany 14/10/2010 Basel–Rheinfelden–Bad Sackingen–Zurzach. 46.84miles/75.67km, ride time 4hr28minutes, averaging 10.4mph.

Lovely, waking up in a warm apartment and getting a cup of tea without having to light the stove! It was with something of a comfort hangover that we set off once again along the Rhein.

The weather has really turned and it feels like winter is around the corner. Let's hope it lasts a little longer otherwise it is going to be pretty miserable. Especially as we have to head north for a while to join the Danube.

Today's journey was spent flitting between Switzerland and Germany. The border seems to take on a slightly random shape along the Rhein. For a while we stuck to the German side until the path turned to gravel. We then swapped over to Switzerland for the remainder of the trip. Most of this was spent along a road, which admittedly had a cycle lane, but when lorries are flying close past you it isn't much fun.

I think it's safe to say that the hills that were absent during the first part of the route have now arrived with a vengeance. Sorry to any of our friends living in Switzerland who basically regard these roads as flat, to us flatland Norfolk dwellers they are very steep. The German side of the route gave us an indication of the terrain when we had to climb up into the many pretty villages as the path took us away from the Rhein. Most of these detours were because of train lines that we seemingly had to go over or under at a regular frequency. These short but steep climbs were almost always followed by short but steep descents. In Switzerland however the road just seemed to go up and up.

It was with quite tired legs that we finally arrived in Zurzach and found our camp-site. Passing a nice thermal baths, with no time to visit didn't help much either! Oh well life on the road, an early night is called for I think!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Day 25 Switzerland 13/10/2010 Basel and a very nice apartment!

As previously suggested the hangovers we woke up with were good ones. Good job we were only moving across the city this morning!

After a few trips back to the room we eventually got all our gear downstairs and attached to the bikes. We then set off on the brief trip across the river to Howard and Fiona's apartment. Their directions had been good and we found it without any trouble. Howard came down to meet us and helped us move our gear, while the bikes got locked safely in the garage.

It was fantastic to have the use of the washing machine, when we figured out how it worked! Plus we got loads of research done on our coming route and managed to locate some camp-sites along the way. Just having a bit of space and time to regroup has helped enormously.

Jeff came over in the afternoon and was joined by his girlfriend Lea later that evening, when Fiona cooked us all a lovely meal. We had a fantastic evening and we can't thank our hosts enough for their hospitality. We hope to see you all again sometime.

PS we hope your exam went well Howard.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Day 24 Switzerland, 12/10/2010 Basel. All on foot!

Breakfast is included! Swiss hostels are very expensive, so its nice to get something for free. We filled ourselves up as much as we could and then headed out into the city to have a look around.

Starting from the hostel we walked up the hill, past the mysterious church that although closed in appearance always seemed to have organ music coming from it. Ghosts or a tape recorder, your guess is as good as ours.

Typical our first stop is covered in scaffolding! The Cathedral apparently has an interesting knight on horseback slaying a dragon statue. We could see the top half but as to the rest of him I wish I could tell. Mercifully you can still see enough of the building to have a look around. From the Cathedral we followed a walking tour, that Debbie had picked up from the hostel. Which led us through the medieval streets of Basel. Up and down quite a lot of steps and some steep hills. The city centre is very pretty, with an interesting mix of old and new. Ivy clad houses stand side by side with graffiti art covered walls.

Braving the Swiss prices we managed to get hold of the map books that would take us all the way to Budapest. We also managed to get some more fuel for the stove which was getting a bit in short supply.

The Welsh have arrived! Walking through the city, there seemed to be an over abundance of red clad people with welsh accents. We hadn't realised that Wales were playing Switzerland in the Euro qualifiers tonight in Basel. This would probably explain why our first choice hostels were all full when we were trying to book last week.

After spending quite a lot of the day walking round, we decided to ride one of the trams that travel round the city to get an overview of Basel. Thanks to the hostel we were given free passes to use the public transport during the length of our stay. The hostel wasn't on any of the tram routes though!

Having had a productive day we went back to the hostel to do some research on the route ahead. Checking the blog we saw a message from Debbie's old friend Jeff who as it turned out lived not far from Basel. A hasty phone call later and we arranged to meet that evening in an Irish pub. We ate a nice 4 course dinner in the hostel and then got ready to go out. Needless to say when we got to the pub it was heaving with Wales supporters. We managed to find Jeff and were later joined by his friend Howard and a little later Howard's wife Fiona.

As kick off neared, the pub cleared of the supporters and we had a great evening chatting and drinking too much beer. During the evening we got an offer to stay at Howard & Fiona's apartment tomorrow, which we duly accepted. Moving on will have to wait for another day. Which is just as well with the potential for a heavy hangover in the morning. By the way Wales lost so there was no singing in the valleys or hostel (thankfully) tonight.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Day 23 Germany/France/Switzerland, 11/10/2010 Breisach–Vogelgrun–Fessenheim–Kembs–Basel. 44.5miles/71.89km, ride time 4hr04minutes, averaging 10.9mph

For some reason this morning the sun just didn't want to rise. So we laid in a bit later than usual. The plan was to get everything sorted and give the tent some time to dry out as we have booked into a hostel for two nights in Basel.

With everything packed away we headed into Briesach from our camp-site to pick up some bread and a few supplies for the day ahead. We rather prematurely said goodbye to France, as it turns out that today’s route is on a better surface in France. We didn't fancy nearly 50kms of unsealed road in Germany.

We crossed over the Rhein and headed south through several small French villages. Oddly everything was closed, a good job we got supplies in Germany! The cycle routes mostly followed relatively quiet roads and we again made very good progress.

From Kembs onwards the route moved onto a hard packed gravel tow path along a canal. Although good for covering the distance, these routes become a little tiresome. They are almost dead straight and bypass all but the outskirts of the surrounding villages. We continued along this route straight into the outskirts of Basel, where we encountered our first border crossing. Well there were some kiosks and a nothing to declare lane, but no customs officers. Perhaps they were all at lunch!

After getting the hang of the different cycle signing in Switzerland, we made it into the city centre. All we then had to do was find the hostel. This turned out to be easy, although it did involve riding up a short but very steep hill. Not really what you want at the end of a cycling day, but we had been warned about the steep Basel streets.

The hostel is very smart and currently we are the only ones in a four bed mixed dorm. After getting settled in we went to have a stroll around the area and get some dinner. The city looks like it will make for an interesting place to explore tomorrow. We also have to buy some more maps for our route along the Danube.

A nice dinner of Asian food and it was back to the hostel to watch a film and plan for tomorrow. Night all.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Day 22 France/Germany, 10/10/2010 Strasbourg–Eschau–Boofzheim–Diebolshiem– Breisach. 46.7miles/75.37kms, ride time 3hr58mins, averaging 11.7mph/18.9km

The night time temperature has really dropped and we dragged our heels a little getting up this morning. Nevertheless we were back on the road reasonably early on a sunny but chilly morning. Fortunately the local shop was open so we could buy a baguette for lunch and some pastries, as we had rather miscalculated our food rations. Sunday is not the best time to run out of food in continental Europe!

Quickly finding our way out of Strasbourg, we picked up the cycle route which followed the 'Canal du Rhone au Rhin' for almost 30kms dead straight. Apart form the odd climb up where the lock gates were positioned, the route was easy and we made very good time.

At Boofzheim we turned towards the Rhein and following the D468, we made it to Diebolshiem where we planned to cross over into Germany. The route took us past a large hydro electricity generating factory, over the Grand Canal d'Alsace and finally along some national park land before crossing the Rhein.

It was over the last crossing that we had the slightly bizarre encounter of a bar, craft fair, and western costume clad German buskers singing English folk, and country and western songs. Very strange, still it made a nice spot for lunch!

From there on in it was a relatively straight forward ride along the flood embankment, which being gravel rather sapped the strength from our legs.

Briesach itself looks like an interesting town but we have very little time as we are due in Switzerland tomorrow. The camp-site is quite nice, although for the first time in our trip nobody here speaks any English. Oh well we still managed to order a beer!

The night time temperature is very cold again so off to bed soon, until tomorrow auf wiedersein.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Day 21 France, 9/10/2010 Strasbourg. 6.3miles/10.17km, ride time 43mins, averaging 8.8mph.

Not the beautiful day like yesterday that we were hoping for this morning. It is quite overcast with a bit of drizzle in the air.

We took our time this morning and then got ready for the short cycle into the city centre. Our first port of call was the tourist information office situated close to the cathedral, to find out where we could safely leave our bikes. With our bikes duly deposited in a nearby undercover car and cycle park, we headed back into the city to have a look around.

Starting back at the Cathedral we went inside and had a look around. Like most of the cathedrals we have seen it was huge and dark, with some beautiful stained glass windows and a very interesting astronomical clock. Which we were in time to see chime!

The weather outside hadn't improved much, if anything the rain being heavier. Nevertheless we continued on to have a look around Petit France, an area of old, pretty

buildings and canals. From there we walked around to Les Ponts Couverts, a much photographed towered bridge. Which is currently covered in scaffolding, you would have thought they would have finished it in the 100's of years it has been there!

Most of the beauty of the city is in just wandering around and looking at the many narrow streets and pretty buildings. With no sign of the sun coming out and Debbie getting cold we called our tour to an end and headed back to the camp-site.

Strasbourg has been one of the nicer cities we have visited and not a bad way to end our brief visit to France. Will be heading back to Germany tomorrow and our last camp-site before we reach Switzerland.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Day 20 France, 8/10/2010 Plittersdorf–Wintesdorf–Drusenheim–Gambsheim–la Wantzenau–Strasbourg. 40.53miles/65.31km, ride time 3hr43mins, averaging 10.9

Woke up to yet another dry day, if somewhat overcast. We are definitely getting in a routine with the packing up as we were on our way in very good time.

Passing through a couple of small German villages we made our way to the bridge that would take us across the Rhein and into France. The bridge wasn't the most pleasant of introductions to France as there was no cycle path, it was a bit foggy and the cars are travelling very fast. Nevertheless we made it safely and immediately found a signposted route to Strasbourg.

The first part of the route was along a quiet road beside the Rhein, although the river was not visible being behind some quite major flood defences. As the mist began to lift the temperature steadily rose, and we passed through our first French town we saw a temperature sign reading 25°C! We stopped at a near by patisserie and bought some bread and cakes; the staff certainly had a breezier approach than their German counterparts. At risk at being strung up by any Francophiles though, German bread and cake shops are definitely better. Especially the bread!

Continuing on through several more villages, we made good progress along a well signed route. Some of those signs are somewhat small and slightly ill positioned. We didn't crash into each other, but could have quite easily when one of us made a rapid directional change having spotted the sign at the last moment!

The last part of the route took us through more forestry and eventually to the outskirts of Strasbourg. Somewhere along the line we lost the cycle route, but were quickly put on track by possibly a woman with possibly the finest spoken English in Strasbourg. From there on it was a bit of trial and error to find our camp-site, but we made it just in time for the dreaded siesta. Oh well only 30 minutes to wait this time and it was a beautiful day.

We eventually got pitched and settled, did some washing and met our first Brits since leaving. Our first experience in France has been a good one, tomorrow a tour of Strasbourg.

Passed 1000kms today, plus no punctures. Go us!


Friday, 8 October 2010

Day 19 Germany, 07/10/2010 Phillipsburg-Germersheim-Worth am Rhein-Plittersdorf. 42.55miles/69km, ride time 3hr45mins, averaging 11.3mph!

First of all Happy Birthday Adam we hope you have a good one!

We woke up to another dry morning. The plan was to camp in France tonight, but all the local sites seem to close at the end of September. Never mind we had a back up site in Germany.

As the cycle route looked straighter on the western side, we crossed the Rhein at Germersheim and continued along a well signed route to Worth am Rhein. Spotting a retail park we headed into what I thought was a supermarket to buy some bread. You may not be able to buy bread and cakes in B&Q but you can in the German equivalent! Blushes spared we headed off with our bread and cakes in tow.

As our camp-site was on the East of the Rhein we crossed back over and continued south. It was a few kilometres down the road that we encountered a potentially tricky situation. If I had looked at the map properly I would have seen that there were steps marked. We aren't talking just a few steps either, but two flights either side of what appeared to be an industrial canal.


The builders had thoughtfully put in a runner for your cycle wheels, but our bikes are very heavy! Stripping everything off my bike, I carried it across the canal and then ran back for my luggage. It was after the 3rd time there and back that I got all of my luggage to the other side. Now for Debbie's bike and gear. It was watching another cyclist that made me realise that if you tilted your bike in the runner you could get it up with panniers attached. With Debbie pulling and me pushing we made it first up and then very trickily down the steps. If only I had realised earlier I wouldn't have had to spend the next 15minutes re-attaching everything to my bike. Good luck to any heavily laden tourer who is on their own though.

The rest of the route was lovely, along a hard pressed down but unsealed cycle path through a forest. The only thing that would have been nice is way markers as it was quite hard to judge from our map where exactly we were.

We eventually rode into Plittersdorf and a very helpful cyclist told us how to find the camp-site. With about 500m to go I got another puncture! Fortunately with a bit of air it held until we got camped.

Really windy tonight so hope this is not the shape of things to come. However the direction it is blowing in would make it a tail wind, so its not all bad. We will be in France tomorrow staying in Strasbourg for a few days, so 'bon nuit'!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Day 18 Germany, 06/10/2010 Mannheim–Rheinau–Ketsch–Rheinhausen–Phillipsburg. 27.10miles/44.01kms, ride time 2hr43mins, av 9.9mph.

Not far to the camp-site this morning, so we packed and left in good time hoping to get there early. We quickly got back on the main Rhein route and continued on towards Ketsch without any problems. Somewhere close to Ketsch we had a case of the disappearing route sign and ended up doing a very pleasant 5km circuit. Which ended with us back where we started. The other path led us straight to where we wanted to go, what a difference a sign makes!

Somewhere around Rheinhausen Debbie decided to take a cycle sign literally and instead of turning right at the next road she headed straight towards someone's garage. It was with a still chuckling Debs that we finally rode into Phillipsburg. The camp-site was well sign posted, but unfortunately we fell foul of the afternoon siesta by a few minutes. If only we hadn't had that detour earlier!

With nothing else for it, we rode into the town centre to have a look round and kill some time. Phillipsburg was clearly an important town in its day, but the beautifully signed and worded walking tour was terrible. All of the sites were closed, with no sign of them opening any-time soon. Reading a sign that tells you of all the wonderful things housed within a closed building is a little disappointing to say the least.

After a coffee and doughnut we went back to try the camp-site again. Still no-one there, so a quick phone call later, we were told we would have to wait another 20 minutes. So much for getting there early! Thankfully it was a beautiful day and when we actually got to put the tent up it was right by a lake. We spent the rest of the day sorting and relaxing, which was made all the easier by a nice bottle of wine. Especially as it only cost 2 Euros!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Day 17 Germany, 05/10/2010 Mainz–Oppenheim–Alsheim–Worms–Ludwigshafen– Mannheim. 53.87miles/86.91kms, ride time 5hr22mins, av 10mph!

We woke up early and got packed in good time. Due to the lack of camp-sites we had a bit of a long one ahead of us. The original plan had been to stay in Worms but with no camp-sites and reasonably expensive hotels, that all seemed to be full, we had no choice but to press on. Fortunately the weather was on our side!

Deciding to forgo some of the meandering Rhein route and take a more direct option along the roads, we made very good time. Passing through large areas of vineyards we were still clearly in the wine making area of Germany. This has the added bonus of very nice rest stops presumably placed so that grape pickers could shelter from the sun. Having watched the grape harvesters in action though, we can assume that very little is still done by hand.

Some days everything is obviously on your side, as we made it to the city of Worms at about 1pm. This gave us enough time to have a brief look round and made a pleasant spot for some lunch. After a look at the impressive cathedral, we headed out of the city and stopped for a brief look at the Nibelungen bridge gateway, Worms most photographed landmark.

Pleased that we at least got the chance to have a brief look around we pressed on towards Mannheim. It was along this road where Debbie stopped for a drink and then managed to lose control of her bike which then fell over with her trapped under it. A rather helpful man on a moped stopped, watched for a while, laughed and then moved on. Nice, she wasn't hurt but all the same. Still no use crying over spilled milk, which turned out to be quite prophetic later on.

Because we were heading towards Mannheim from the western side of the Rhein, we had to make our way through the sprawling Ludwigshafen. The signposting remained good though and we crossed the Rhein into Mannheim. With only a brief directional challenge, we continued towards the camp ground. We had a rough idea where the site was, but after travelling through some quite beautiful park and woodland, we began to have some doubts. We shouldn't have worried as we found the site without too much trouble and even found someone to pay!

After a hearty dinner of frankfurters and pasta and when Debbie had finished mopping the milk from her pannier, we had a brief walk along the Rhein, passing probably the most hopeful for customers Italian restaurant we have yet seen. Who knows maybe in the height of the season they can't cope with all the people.

It was with tired legs that we headed back to our tent for the night. A shorter one tomorrow hopefully?

Two firsts today. First time over 50miles and we crossed the 500 mile barrier. Go us!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Day 16 Germany, 04/10/2010 Mainz A few miles from the camp-site to the city centre.

I know, we only had a rest day the other day! With finding camp-sites becoming more of a problem we decided to stay put and try and plan out our accommodation for the next few days.

We headed into Mainz with the intention of having a look around and finding an internet café, to do some serious research. As seems to be the case in all of these German cities the centre is dominated by the Dom (Cathedral) and everything else is built around it. Mainz's Dom is huge but unfortunately covered by quite a lot of scaffolding, which rather spoils the effect. We did a brief tour of the sights on foot and found the city to be very pleasant; the Kirschgarten area especially is very picturesque with its half wood houses.

After a pleasant wander round the city, we found an Internet café. No thanks to the tourist information office, all the ones they found didn't exist or at least we couldn't find them. Some serious research later and a good dose of smoke inhalation from the cigarette filled café, we had some places to stay for the next few days. We should get at least as far as Strasbourg before we need to check again.

With the sun still shining on us, we went back to the camp-site for a beer and to give the bikes their first clean. This was especially needed after Debbie's off road route!

A long one tomorrow so an early night is called for, travelling from Mainz to Manneheim approx 80kms, lets hope it stays fine!

Oops forgot to mention, beautiful sunset tonight over the Rhein with Mainz in the background. Life is indeed good!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Day 15 Germany, 03/10/2010 Oberwesel–Bacharach–Bingen–Rudesheim–Winkel–Eltville–Mainz. 34.11miles/55.07km, ride time 3hr53mins, av 8.7mph (very muddy!

We woke to a grey morning and then a beautiful red sky as the sun started to rise.
We are obviously getting better at the packing up, as it seemed to take a lot less time this morning. Which was just as well, because as we loaded the bikes I discovered I had my first puncture!! It didn't take long to repair and we were soon back on the road.

We headed south along the western bank of the Rhein until we reached Bingen where we took a ferry across to Rudesheim.

Debbie's turn to navigate, all I can say is 'LETS OFF ROAD!'. 20km of unsealed road, some of it very muddy which didn't make for great progress. We were also hindered by the sheer amount of people out for a walk/cycle/run. Fortunately the sun came out and we struggled on through the mud in beautiful sunshine.

Opting for an alternative route along the road helped a little and we rejoined the Rhein near the outskirts of Mainz. By now the riverside was jammed with people of all ages and progress became very slow. With not far to go we located the campsite easily only to find we had arrived at siesta time. With a bar right next door it would have been wrong not to stop and have a beer, so that's what we did! Had an entertaining conversation with two German guys, who we can now add to the list of people who think we are mad.

Dinner beckons, so until tomorrow farewell.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Day 14 Germany, 02/10/2010 Oberwesel. 3.54miles/6.09km. ride time 28mins. av 7.4mph

The rain is sadly back! Have decided to stay put, as the forecast for tomorrow is looking much better.

Spent the morning catching up with computer stuff and then went back to Oberwesel for a better look round and some lunch. The rain had thankfully stopped when we cycled into town and we set off up the very steep streets that criss cross Oberwesel. It really is amazing how easy it is when the bikes aren't weighed down by all the luggage. We must be getting fitter! It was only when we came back down the hill that we realised just how steep the streets are.

Reaching the main street we discovered a small festival, with people in period costume and a medieval style group of musicians. We stopped and watched for a while, had a coffee and doughnut (a Berliner) and then went back to the camp-site.

We spent the rest of the day sorting photos, relaxing and trying to find camp-sites further along our route. After Mainz there could be a problem as there seem to be less, if any sites. May have to stay in a guest house for a couple of nights, oh well am sure it will be fine!

Tomorrow Mainz.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Day 13 Germany, 01/10/2010 Lahnstein–Braubach–Boppard–Bad Salzig–St Goar–Oberwesel. 24.5miles/39.46km. ride time 2hr16mins. Av 10.7mph.

Debbie's 33rd birthday and blue skies!

Just as well we were not going far today, as it took me ages to get loaded up. When I was finally ready, we made a brief stop to say goodbye to the camp-site owner and to check on the location of the ferry that would take us back across the Rhein. Following the eastern side of the Rhein we cycled through Braubach and onwards to the river ferry ramp opposite Boppard. Our timing was good as the ferry was getting ready to depart, so we didn't have long to wait.

After a brief snack stop we continued south through Bad Salzig and onwards to St Goar. The cycle way running beside the Rhein and the B9 was excellent, no getting lost today! With the sun now shining brightly and it getting warm enough to just wear a t-shirt (for me at least, Debs removed at least one layer!) we cycled into the pretty town of St Goar.

The tourist office in St Goar gave us details of a camp-site in the next town of Oberwesel approx 6kms down the road.

The camp-site which we found with ease was basic but lovely, and at only 11 Euros the cheapest for a while.

Pitching our tent right by the Rhein we laid everything out to dry and then headed into Oberwesel to have a look round and get some supplies.

The town is beautiful with many old buildings and steep narrow streets.
Finding a supermarket we bought some steak for Debbie's birthday dinner and then after a quick look round headed back to the camp-site to relax.

Making use of the 2 Euros a day wifi, we caught up on Debbie's birthday messages (thank you everyone!), cooked a lovely meal and finished the day off with a bottle of wine overlooking the Rhein.