Day 6 – Volkach to Ochsenfurt
I slept really well in the hotel and felt most refreshed when waking up. We listened to The Today Programme on Radio 4 as we got ready and went down to breakfast at 8:15. It was the least varied breakfast we’ve had so far but was still perfectly adequate in terms of content.
We left our room at about 9:30am and James did a bit of fettling to his bike, lowering the handlebars slightly to take a little pressure off the saddle.
I organised a new arrangement of socks around my flagpole on the trike. This may seem a bit strange but I gaffer-taped the flagpole onto the headrest so it was the right height but the gaffer tape continually stuck to my hair and pulled it out. Eventually (after several days!) I had the bright idea of wrapping James’s drying socks around the headrest mount and covering the tape. It worked a treat yesterday but as James’s socks were now dry and packed away I had to use my own, so some fetching black and grey woolly socks were added to the mess on my bike.
Right at the beginning of this day’s ride we had a choice of routes. At Volkach the Main river has a canal which goes directly from Volkach to Schwarzach, reducing a 12km route to just 4.5km. However we (I!!) thought doing this route was cheating so we followed the river rather than the canal, which turned out to be a very attractive route through lots of vineyards.
We also saw asparagus, strawberries and fruit trees growing. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t too strong so it was a lovely day’s cycling.
We saw this weird boat/trimaran thingie – not sure what its purpose is.
We cycled through the sleepy village of Nordheim and then eventually reached Sommerach were the route via the Mainkanal joined us. We stopped on the bridge looking over the canal and some other people stopped too so we reciprocated photograph-taking.
As it was a hot day I was feeling it was about time for an ice cream so we decided to stop in Schwarzach am Main (the next big town) for an ice cream. We pulled up the bikes beside a metal Penny Farthing (which we think was probably meant to be a flower planter, although it didn’t have any flowers in) and took a couple of photos.
It was then that James said that he recognised the bike beside ours – wasn’t it the Schauff bike belonging to Wowbagger’s German cousin? We couldn’t see him around but it did look awfully familiar.
We decided to sit in the shade outside and as we walked up the steps to the little terrace, there was Wowbagger’s German cousin grinning at us! We had a little chat, surprised he was so far ahead (he’d had an awful night’s sleep in a noisy hostel in Schweinfurt which didn’t do breakfast so he set off really early). He was stopping today at Marktbreit which is the village before our stop (Ochsenfurt), about three miles from it. Small world! I gave him the address of this blog and then took a photo of him with James at their bikes.
He was clearly having a leisurely day so we set off before him, having enjoyed our strawberry cakes with cream/ice cream and a cup of tea.
The blue sky now had some clouds in it and it looked as though the weather was going to continue its pattern of our days so far – clear morning, rain clouds in the afternoon, actual rain late afternoon and then dry/warm evening. This is apparently a convective weather system (according to my Dad) and it did seem rather familiar to me – the weather in Düsseldorf always seemed to be like this too.
We crossed the Main river again at Schwarzach and then had a section away from the river but alongside a road. At Dettelbach, the next village, our route was once again alongside the Main and continued this way through Mainstockheim until we reached Kitzingen.
The original plan was to eat lunch at Kitzingen but neither of us was that hungry and the clouds were looking really rather rainy in the direction we were cycling. Ochsenfurt was only 11 miles away and it seemed like a good idea to press on.
There was a very faffy, badly-signposted section once we’d crossed the bridge in Kitzingen, although the bridge was great – now closed to car traffic with huge flowering planters in the road to stop cars, but bikes could weave past them. The guide book suggests we should go straight along the riverside but all cycle path signs take you slightly away from that and then there are some very faffy crossings of a couple of major roads. I remember Pippa and I struggling with this section when we rode this in 2009 but this time, with the helpful GPS track, we were a bit more confident and got there in the end.
‘There’ being some nice, fast downhill sections alongside the river although we couldn’t see it all the time. There was a little side section of river that had mostly dried up although clearly usually had water, so that was interesting. The bank had starting crumbling into the riverbed as well.
The skies were looking more and more rainy now so we were pushing the pedals harder than normal. Marktsteft came and went and then we arrived in Marktbreit, which initially seemed rather industrial and had some rather interesting graffiti!
Eventually we came to a nice bit. Just out the other side I stopped at a bicycle shop (a big one) but it was unfortunately closed. I have a hankering for a nice Vaude rack pack to match my panniers, I’ve seen several on other bikes and I think it’d be just the thing for my trike!
Now the rain began, just a few drops, then getting more and more persistent. Within a few minutes we were going over a level crossing and before getting back on the bikes (it was one of those scary ones without magic barriers where you have to just look and listen – around two blind corners!) we put on our waterproof jackets and added some gloves as with wet hands I can’t change my grip-shift gears on the trike (part of the reason I’m having bar-end shifters on the next trike as I rarely wear gloves).
The rain was really coming down now and James made sure he cycled in front as the lack of mudguards on my bike meant I was creating three little water fountains. We passed several German cyclists sheltering under trees; they know that this kind of rainstorm passes in half an hour or so, but we were so near to our destination (and I was getting really rather peckish) that we wanted to press on.
Here is my trike alongside one of the many locks:
We arrived in Ochsenfurt rather wet but pleased to be there. They appear to be rebuilding the bridge that fell down four or so years ago but is still on the official Radweg – Pippa and I were caught out by this last time and had to take the ferry! Anyway, the bridge still has a huge gap in the middle so I imagine we’ll go back to an earlier bridge tomorrow or take the ferry.
The hotel was in a good position opposite the library (which apparently has Internet access for punters) and had a very good looking food area. They put our bikes in the garage and gave us the keys to our room. The room is the cheapest (50 Euros for both of us, including breakfast) and it’s very small and stark with the obligatory old-fashioned brown German bathroom, but it’s somewhere to sleep and is well situated.
When we arrived in our room we discovered there was, on the wall, a print of The Haywain by Constable. You find reminders of our corner of Essex in the strangest places!
I went in search of food after my shower, finding myself in a café which had a very unusual looking cake-thing, which I expressed interest in. “Is it a kind of pancake?” I asked the lady. “No,” she said, “it’s fried strudel mix with sugar.” I gave it a go – it was very tasty but a bit unusual – rather like fried filo pastry. Went well with my cuppa, though, and filled a gap. James took the opportunity for a nap whilst I was out exploring.
I went out to attempt to find wifi but failed; however, there was a computer in the library that I could use so I had a quick look at the news and the weather for tomorrow (looks like we should stay dry, hurrah!)
When I got back to the room James was awake so we went out for a wander. Of course, the moment we stepped out of the hotel it started raining. We stood under the archway into the hotel terrace for a while awaiting weather improvement and eventually got bored so wandered off in the drizzle to see the Main river.
We took some photographs of the bridge that they are rebuilding. They appear to be reusing the old keystones (they had numbers painted on them) but are setting them into fresh concrete. They’re making the bridge out of concrete now and just cladding it in stone.
On the way back we passed some high-water marks with years noted; one of them was twice James’s height. This explains some rather serious flood defences between the Main and the town walls.
We walked along the high street, visiting the towers at both ends. We happened to be at the clock at the Rathaus (town hall) bang on 6pm and when it chimed some little faces peeped out of windows next to the rather strange skeleton under the clock face. There was also a character with a beard whose mouth went up and down silently. Unfortunately there wasn’t any information we could find about the clock – or indeed about the collapsed bridge.
We decided to eat at our hotel as it had been very busy all day which was a good sign. When we arrived almost all the tables had people on or were reserved – in fact only two tables remained, one of which we took. Several other tables had people playing cards and the hotel provided little dishes for the money that they appeared to be gambling (it looked like copper coins).
I decided it was time to have some proper Frankish food so I had pork with Kloß which are potato dumplings. It came with sauerkraut, of course, and was very tasty. James had a Jägerschnitzel but with pasta rather than fries as he can’t eat potato at the moment. James also sampled some local white wine which he said was very nice.
I felt that I deserved dessert today so ordered Apfelkräpfle which are little apple cakes with cream and ice cream and fruit and a toffee sauce – superyummy for only 3 Euro.
James decided to try some of the hotel brewery’s dark beer (Schwarzbier) which looked very dark but which tasted like particularly malty normal German beer, rather than like bitter. It was nice though!
I decided to time how long the waitress would take to bring our bill as normally we seem to have to wait ages, but the restaurant had had to turn away several people as they were full. The answer was, 40 seconds. We gave them a generous tip as the food had been great and the service was excellent.
The rain had returned by the time we had finished our meal so we decided not to venture out any further. We have a longer day tomorrow on our way to Gemünden so will probably start out reasonably early.
Statistics for today:
Distance: 28.69 miles
Moving time: 3 hours 14 minutes
Moving average: 8.85 mph
Maximum speed: 21.93 mph
Calories burned: 775
Maximum heart rate: 154
Average heart rate: 97