Our plan was to leave early this morning to try to beat the worst of the hot weather, and this was pretty successful as we breakfasted at 06:30 and were out of the door by 07:10. However we had the traditional 10 minutes’ explanation about velomobiles to some of the other hotel guests who were enjoying their breakfasts and had plenty of time to ask us questions.
Today would be our highest climbing at 700 metres plus, and with the hot weather this could be a challenge.
Here is our route for the day:
This was a route prepared using software tools and without local knowledge and this showed a little at times when we were routed along roads that might have been best avoided.
The elevation profile of day had four major hills – and the hardest came first.
After a relatively easy initial few kilometres through Göppingen, we turned north towards Rechberghausen.
Here was a slow trundle up the hill, aiming at those houses you can see in the distance.
I overtook Klaus as he was using his Schlumpf and stopped at the top, looking back down over the road I had cycled up from the valley below.
We wound our way through the streets of Rechberghausen catching our breath and then there was a little more climbing – but we could tell when we were reaching the top!
What goes up must eventually come down, but first we rode along a slightly shady woodland section.
We rode through Börtlingen and then Breech and then started our downhill towards Schorndorf. At the top of this downhill we passed a roadie cyclist and then zoomed away from him down the 4km descent. We weren’t as fast today with our descending, we were both using the brakes quite a bit as we knew the descent ended in a town and we wanted to be going slow enough for that!
I took a wrong turn in Schorndorf when negotiating a series of junctions, and took the opportunity to replace my hat whilst stationary. I had removed it before the big downhill so it didn’t blow away, but without the baseball cap visor it is a bit tricky to read the Garmin in the bright sunlight. That’s my excuse for taking a wrong turn!
We rejoined the road and crossed over a roundabout onto a quiet path, at which point the roadie caught us up again. This time he asked about what motors we had, and I told him Klaus didn’t have one.
We left him behind us again and then found ourselves riding along a cycle path on a reasonably busy road when… ping! It disappeared!
So we both got out, dragged the bikes down the kerb (there was no dropped kerb of course), crossed the road and carried on along the cycle path on that side.
We went past Winterbach and then arrived at Geradstetten. I had a waypoint in my Garmin for a bakery and at the last minute saw it on the left hand side of the road (I had expected it on the right). I quickly turned left to park and rolled about 10 metres down a ‘no entry’ road (there was nothing coming the other way). I got out, and Klaus who had parked near me also got out, a lady outside started berating me for riding down a ‘no entry’. I said “I saw it at the last minute, and normally bikes are allowed down No Entry ways anyway” but she carried on complaining, then said “is this a bike??” And I said “Yes”, but she still went on and on moaning. In the end Klaus just said (in German) “give it a rest!” And we went into the bakery. These sort of busybody things are just annoying – she was just a lady who had driven to the bakery to buy bread rolls.
Anyway, we had a cake and a tea and relaxed a bit.
As we were leaving I spoke to two ladies who had been sitting on a bench outside the café the whole time. I said “I am cycling the right way now!” And they laughed.
We had some more hills to do, and the day was warming up, so we were pleased we had made such an early start.
We rode through Remshalden (we were following the Rems valley at this point) and then it was time to move over to the next valley, the Neckar valley. This included of course climbing out of one valley and descending to the next.
We rode through Grossheppach and Kleinheppach, slowly winding our way up the hill, but this was easier than the first hill today. We then rode through Korb and then briefly on a track alongside the B14 before crossing that major road and heading to Schwaikheim.
As I was waiting at traffic lights before Schwaikheim a police car pulled out in front of me. Klaus was already ahead on the road and we had a reasonably fast downhill of about 2km with some bends. When Klaus arrived in Schwaikheim he pulled onto the pavement to wait for me. The police car which was right in front of me pulled in in front of Klaus, so I stopped behind them both.
The two policemen got out but they really only wanted to ask us what these vehicles were. Klaus explained they were bikes, and the police seemed satisfied although they said they were a bit low down. I said that the higher ones were not as stable on the corners due to the higher centre of gravity, so not so safe; no idea if they thought anything of this answer. But they headed onward, and so did we.
From here we rode to Bittenfeld and Hochdorf (another climb) before descending to Poppenweiler.
There were warnings that there were road closures in Poppenweiler but of course we didn’t know if this would affect us. Indeed it did, but we were able to cycle along the footpath for the 100m of road works and got through the blockage.
From Poppenweiler we found ourselves on the L1100 which was actually a very busy road. We were pedalling as fast as we could but there was no cycle path and the road had unforgiving walls to our right as it was built into the side of the valley.
Fortunately after a couple of kilometres we crossed over the river Neckar on a bridge and then were down a very quiet road where I had already identified a Biergarten. So we stopped and had a Radler (Klaus) and ice cream (me) whilst looking at the Neckar.
The day was warming up even further and the beer garden, although originally almost empty, began to fill up. We had left the bikes in the shade but when we came back to them, the shade-producing van had left and they were in the sun again. So we got in as soon as possible and got underway to try to cool down again – it was 30 degrees now.
We had another climb up to Freiberg, again on a cycle path beside the road. The path quality wasn’t very good but it was preferable to the road which had a fair number of cars. From the path we could look down over the landscape before us.
We rode towards Ingetsheim and then to Bietigheim where we crossed the Enz river (this has been a day of multiple rivers).The route out of Bietigheim was a bit horrible but fortunately we found a cycle path. Which then suddenly disappeared, and we had to ride on the L1125.
This was a horrible road with lots of traffic and VERY impatient motorists. We were riding as fast as we could but it was a light uphill over several kilometres so we were struggling to make 30 km/h. It felt like half the motorists who overtook hooted their horns at us, and I had one punishment pass from an Opel Mokka. Do they not realise that if there were a cycle path we would happily have used it? We didn’t know at the time of any alternative route we could take. So we gritted our teeth and rode as fast as we could until we were able to get off the road at Sachsenheim. We will definitely avoid this road if we are in the area again!
We rode into Sersheim and at last knew we were nearing our destination. The charm of the riding had worn off a bit as it was mega hot, we were on busy main roads a lot of the time now and we just wanted to jump into a cold shower!
From Sersheim we were on a quieter road to Horrheim where I had put a waypoint to visit the Penny Markt to buy some dinner. The village of Gündelbach where we were staying tonight didn’t have any restaurants, so rather than ordering pizza for delivery we decided to buy something at the supermarket. I had studied the photos of our Ferienwohnung closely and it seemed there was no oven, just a hob, so we took that into account and bought salads and bread.
Now we just had 4km to ride which was a relief! We pootled our way towards Gündelbach and found our apartment, which was blessedly cool! We unpacked the bikes and had some cold drinks followed by a cold shower. Klaus was feeling pretty pooped after all this climbing on such a hot day, so it was good to know we didn’t have to do anything else today. He also has a mega impressive arm tan now:
Although only riding 90km it was quite hard work!
We washed the clothes and hung them on a jury-rigged washing line and then simply relaxed. We had arrived at 2pm and enjoyed doing nothing for the rest of the afternoon before having an early dinner, phoning chum Jochen for a chat (who is off to Velomobiel.nl tomorrow with a broken Strada) and making some changes to our track for tomorrow. We have realised that it routes us on a Bundesstraße and a close look at the satellite view showed cycle paths on one or the other side, so we have adjusted the track so we know where the cycle path is – from the low vantage point of a velomobile you can’t always see the cycle path when there is high grass around and we didn’t want to miss it.
Tomorrow we ride back to the Rhein valley to Viernheim, which is fairly near to Mannheim. We will see Klaus’s father for an evening meal. Tomorrow is meant to be 37 degrees in Viernheim mid-afternoon so our pan is to leave here before 7am and try to get to Viernheim by midday. It’s only 85km so should be possible, and it’s much flatter than today too. We shall see!
Here is the ‘wheel’ of where we have ridden on this tour:
We will join up with our outgoing track north of Mannheim and will take the same route back through the Rhein valley – there aren’t that many alternatives, at least not super-hilly ones. We only have three more nights on the road now, so our touring time is coming to an end. But we have 450km still to ride, so there is still time for some more impressions of life on the Velomobile cycling road!
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