We were so tired last night that we went to bed at 8:30pm. Our cunning plan to leave really early this morning was foiled by the fact we woke up first at 6:30am. More than nine hours’ sleep each was very refreshing!
Despite waking a bit later than planned, we were still ready to head out at 7:15.
Emily had spent the night in the shed.
Millie had been hiding under the main outer staircase to the front door of the house. Pretty much in view for all who went past, but the alarm didn’t sound at all.
Here was our route for today:
And here the elevation profile – a bit of a hill to start with, then a mega downhill and the rest pretty much flat.
It was already warm as we set off, trundling our way from Gündelbach to Schützingen to Zaisersweiher. The road we were on was a bit busier than last night – I guess some commuter traffic – and we were causing a bit of a hold-up at times, but there was no cycle path we could use instead.
We then started climbing up the hill from Diefenbach to Sternenfels.
The climb was about 100 metres in total but didn’t seem too bad. We had considered stopping at the top as I knew there was a bakery but in the end I decided it would be better to stop after the downhill as that would cool us down anyway.
The downhill from Sternenfels to Oberderdingen was brilliant! It was a relatively smooth road with a few curves but nothing too sharp, so we could just let the velomobiles roll until our bravery ran out. I hit a top speed of just under 85 Kim/h and Klaus made it to 89. Both velomobiles were steady as a rock and very easy to control.
Having ridden a massive 16km it was time for breakfast in the bakery.
Klaus breakfasted on a piece of cake.
It was very hot in the bakery so we didn’t linger after eating our food.
Back outside again we checked the front of both velomobiles and we had several dead insects plastered onto the bikes’ noses.
Pretty much the rest of our tour would now be flat, with just a minor hill or two tomorrow on the way to Bacharach.
From Oberdingen we rode to Flehingen, this time on a cycle path beside the main road.
We were heading to the Kreichtal and in Gochsheim rode around some buildings on a bit of a hill. We then rode to Münzesheim and out the other side to Unteröwisheim. We had a mixture of riding on the road and riding on cycle paths.
In Unteröwisheim we were cycle on the road through the town when a lady from a side rode failed to stop and stuck the nose of her car right in front of Klaus. He made a speedy evasive manoeuvre and managed to avoid hitting her (she also slammed on the brakes). I was behind him and saw it all – it was incredibly close. The woman just pulled straight out of a side road without looking. I said some choice things to her as her window was down, but we carried on as there were cars behind us. In a normal bike that would have been a serious accident as the rider would have gone over the handlebars and onto the car bonnet. Plus in a Versatile or other high centre of gravity Velomobile it might have rolled. Good that we are in such safe, well-planted Velomobiles!
Once we were out of the town and able to park on a cycle path, Klaus took a few minutes to calm down his heart rate and recover from the shock.
I have to say, I find that German drivers tend to ride at full tilt to a junction and then brake really hard. As a cyclist passing this junction on the main road, it’s scary as you never know if they will stop. In the UK I think drivers tend to brake earlier for the junction, but perhaps this is just an impression I have and is not correct. Whatever, it means that when we are riding on main roads we give a wide berth to each side road, and in this case it saved Klaus an accident, had he been riding in the gutter.
At Ubstadt-Weiher our route turned more northwards and followed the Bundesstraße 3, although we found cycle paths for almost all of it last night when double-checking the route. These cycle paths were mostly OK, but the one below was a bit sub-optimal.
We had decided to ride a long way before stopping so zoomed through Bad Schönborn, carrying on along the B3 until we turned off to Rot. We passed Kreuz Walldorf, the motorway crossing of the A5 and A6 in comfort on our cycle path.
From Walldorf we rode to Sandhausen which had roadwork which necessitated us turning round (we couldn’t get through them) and doing a fiddly detour to rejoin our track.
After this we were on a cycle path which then took us away from the L598 that we should have continued cycling along and instead towards Leimen, where we didn’t want to go. We had to turn around again and go on the main road; I was slightly concerned about this as there was a police car stationed back at the traffic lights dealing with a minor traffic bump and I thought she might have something to say about us riding on the road, but I was able to shield myself from view beside a car transporter and zoomed along the short distance of Landstraße before we turned off.
We were now on a very rural bit of road…
So it was time to stop in the shade of a tree to have some more water, to pour some water over our heads and to generally relax for a bit. In the photograph below you can see Heidelberg in the distance.
We rode to the west of Heidelberg but did pass the old runway of the military airport. Klaus wondered if I wanted to stop to take a photo but I was so hot now that stopping was not appealing. At least when underway there is a breeze in the Velomobile; when we stopped now under the midday sun it was just baking hot!
We passed Pfaffengrund and Wieblingen and then got our first glimpse of the Neckar river for today. We rode through Edingen-Neckarhausen and in Neckarhausen we crossed the railway bridge on a cycle path beside it.
We didn’t have far to go, it was baking hot with a wind from the Sahara, so we pedalled onward through Heddesheim, where more roadworks involved a diversion, and then arrived in Viernheim. Just before Viernheim there was a bridge over the Bundesautobahn 659, and the cycle path crossing was quite complicated. Doubly-so when we realised the lights just weren’t changing for us. There was a button we should press but we had no way of reaching it, and Klaus had already crossed to the first traffic island anyway when there was nothing coming. I was waiting for him to move on to the next traffic island before I crossed (there was room for only one Velomobile per traffic island) but he had no chance.
Then I saw a chap on a bike riding towards me and asked him to press the button, which he did. Fortunately then the lights changed for Klaus and we were able to cross and ride the last 500 metres to our hotel. I felt like my head had been baked, sitting for what felt like 8 or 9 minutes at a traffic crossing.
Today was a shorter day and with the wicked temperatures that was very fortunate. We arrived at Hotel Tenne at 12:30pm having ridden 88km.
The hotel had building work going on but said they could store our bikes inside – they ended up in the Waschküche (laundry area).
The hotel manager offered us a drink and then said he had three rooms to offer. One was a large room with a balcony; the second was a smaller room on two floors, also with balcony but with the bedroom in the roof; the third choice was a very small room with no balcony and two separate single beds, but he said this was the coolest room. So we went for that one! It had the advantage of being almost next to where the bikes were being stored so we would hear the alarms if they went off.
The hotel manager also offered to wash our clothes for us in their washing machine and we gladly took him up on this offer. With the hot and sweaty riding we have not been able to get our cycling kit really clean by hand washing, so we hope a proper hotel washing machine can get the sweat stains out of Mr Grumpy’s shirt.
My weather app showed us the temperature today and for the next few days
34-37 degrees is just too hot, and although our room was cooler and had a oscillating fan, we decided we needed to find some air conditioning so we walked the five minutes too the Rhein Neckar Zentrum, a shopping centre, for some lunch.
Klaus had the Birne-Helene cake, I had a filled roll and later a meringue. We also had to buy Klaus another drink. He works much harder in Emily in the heat than I have to in Millie, plus he is less able to tolerate the real heat, so he has drunk gallons of liquid today and felt pretty pooped due to the heat.
We returned to our hotel to sit worshipping at the oscillating fan and to wait for the evening when we would go out for a meal with Klaus’s father. The original plan was to cycle the 11km to the restaurant but Klaus’s father instead offered to pick us up by car and we gladly accepted – we’d had enough of being outside in this heat!
He took us to a nice Italian restaurant at Karlstern and we ate well. When he dropped us back at the hotel we introduced him to the velomobiles – he has heard a or about them!
Tomorrow we have 120km to Bacharach, but the temperature should be less than today, maybe up to 31. We hope so as the weather as it is now is Just Too Hot!
This is a map of our entire tour so far… we have almost joined up with our outgoing route, and will do so tomorrow in Wiesbaden.
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