Bodensee 2019 Day 1: Kempen to Drachenfels

So our summer Velomobile tour starts here!

Long in planning (I think the first tracks were prepared in January), our first day of the tour would be a trip along the Rhein to Drachenfels, just south of Bonn and on the other side of the Rhein.

We posted a list of our day stages on the Velomobilforum and fellow rider Klaus said he could ride some of the way with us. Then the whole thing developed some more and it turned out that the month meeting of the Rhein/Sieg Velomobile group would join us.

Klaus from Köln sent us an updated route which he said would be nicer, and agreed to meet us near Grevenbroich at 11:30am, so Klaus and I set off from home just before 10 and made our way southwards.

I actually had to stop after just 300 metres as there was a weird rubbing sound from the back of Millie. I adjusted my bag which I had stuffed into her luggage area behind my motor’s battery, and then the issue was fixed. Onwards.

Here is the route we rode today:

The night before we left it had rained a lot, but the rain seemed to have stopped by the time we left. However, as we cycled around St Tönis the rain started again; however, it wasn’t heavy enough to trouble us.

We had a ride of an hour and a half to the meeting point with Klaus from Köln and we were seven minutes early – he was already waiting!

Once we joined Klaus the route was more countryside but with views from afar of Köln Cathedral. But mostly our views were of fields and clouds.

We were also riding quite near to the giant hole in the ground (Braunkohl mining) and the related power stations were to be seen on the horizon belching out smoke.

We stopped at one point because I could hear a slightly weird noise at time. Klaus told me that the gaffer tape I had placed over the open area for the rear gears (usually covered with a plastic cover but mine had broken) was hanging down. The reason became clear fairly quickly – my waterproof jacket (packed away in its little bag) had fallen down from the space behind my head and into the area near the rear gears. So I pulled the gaffer tape off and discovered some interesting metal shavings – very thin aluminium – stuck to the gaffer tape. No idea where that come from on Millie but could be interesting in the future.

We carried on and that noise had gone but another new noise developed – when going over bumps. Something seemed to be banging and crashing, so I decided it was probably my new bike alarm, which had already come loose from its Velcro. I had placed it on the floor of Millie and I guessed it was being noisy. I would sort it out at the cake stop.

I hadn’t entirely paid attention to the plan for today and thought that the cake stop was at Strommel, which we reached fairly quickly. But then we carried on… ah, Strommel was just the place where the track we had was being ignored for a new track that Klaus from Köln had created. I wasn’t sure if the end of this track was the cake stop – but it was. Hurrah, as I fancied a break and some tea and cake after 75km.

My cake (above) was a Bienenstich. Klaus had the pink one below.

Several velomobile riders were at the café when we arrived, and the bikes were all squeezed in around the cars. Fortunately three of the parked cars soon left (although an 80 year old lady driver reversing her car around these expensive bikes was a bit scary!) and we were able to tessellated all 10 velomobiles into the space taken previously by three cars.

It was nice to have a chat with everyone, and of course to enjoy tea and cake, but soon it was time to head to Bonn.

We were a large group so cycled mostly on the cycle paths, which were bumpy. Annoyingly my banging noise was continuing, so it wasn’t my alarm after all. I wondered if it could perhaps be my tool bag which has plastic clips, perhaps these were rattling against the side of Millie. I had the problem that we were in a large group so I couldn’t really stop, so I carried on riding wincing at the banging sounds that came over empty bump.

Here is a pic that Hajo took of me:

You can see there were some threatening clouds but we avoided getting rained on, fortunately.

We did a lot of riding beside busy roads with lots of traffic lights – this was necessary to get round Köln – but in the end we found ourselves in a more country area. I liked this field of poppies.

We were now riding on the Rhein cycle path through Bonn and I found myself getting more and more irritated by the banging sound. So I asked the informal leader Josef if we could stop and have a look what it was. So he stopped and it very quickly became clear what the source of the noise was – why was my bicycle hooter sitting in the right hand footwell? It is supposed to be fitted below the headlamps!

Klaus climbed under Millie to have a look, but it was tricky to see anything. So we laid her on her side.

Klaus could take hold of the horn but there was nothing to fix it to (its mounting had snapped and it was only held in place by the two wires). Another rider supplied a cable tie but it became clear this wouldn’t actually help as the thing would rattle.

Hajo then had a look, and either accidentally or on purpose amputated the horn! So I now have it in my tool bag and the rattling has gone; but I also cannot hoot my horn until it is replaced.

After this delay we had just 10km to the beer garden Blauer Affe that Josef had suggested. We all arrived and caused quite a stir with the other guests!

There was lots of chatting about velomobiles. A bit later two more velomobilists arrived and one was the guy who had fitted Millie’s motor – and her horn! I said the horn had broken, but of course there was nothing to be done about it there.

I didn’t want to hang around for too long as I wanted to get showered. The rain at the beginning of the ride had made my clothes a bit smelly! So Klaus and I said goodbye to everyone and headed off.

It was just 12km further to Drachenfels. We had stayed there before on our SPEZI tour in 2015 when riding with Simon and Joyce as well. It was as we remembered, but this time the bikes weren’t parked in the ballroom but under our balcony outside.

The view from our balcony was the vineyard with Dragon’s Rock at the back.

And the view under our balcony… a Quattrovelo!

We had ridden 125km in total so I was keen for a shower. And of course as we are on a tour of two weeks we have to wash our clothes each day in the shower.

We then walked towards Rhöndorf for food. Konrad Adenauer lived here and his presence still looms large in photographs hung on walls and street names. Here we are looking back towards the Dragon’s Rock.

We found a restaurant and ate a simple Schnitzel and then walked to the ice cream parlour afterwards for an ice cream.

It took us a while to find a restaurant that wasn’t super-expensive so our track looks a bit meandering!

We were back in our room by 8pm. There is a kettle in the hallway outside but unfortunately no mugs so I cannot make a cuppa. The main reception area was open when we left for our dinner (and I saw some mugs there) but unfortunately when we got back it was closed. So I will have to go without my cuppa this evening. Which is tough!

Tomorrow we have our longest day of the tour at 150km. We are again staying in a hotel we have used before, this time in Walluf which is a very quiet town on the Rhein near Wiesbaden. Tomorrow we will be riding along too. It was fun to have so many cycling with us today, so thanks to all who came along!

Here is a full list of all the blog postings on this tour:
Day 1: Kempen to Drachenfels
Day 2: Drachenfels to Walluf
Day 3: Walluf to Speyer
Day 4: Speyer to Appenweier
Day 5: Appenweier to Bamlach
Day 6: Bamlach to Koblenz (CH)
Day 7: Koblenz to Konstanz
Day 8: Konstanz to Tettnang
Day 9: Tettnang to Bad Buchau
Day 10: Bad Buchau to Eislingen
Day 11: Eislingen to Gündelbach
Day 12: Gündelbach to Viernheim
Day 13: Viernheim to Bacharach
Day 14: Bacharach to Drachenfels
Day 15: Drachenfels to Kempen


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