Category Archives: Düsseldorf 2010

Cycle rides around Düsseldorf in July 2010 when I was attending a language school.

Düsseldorf – Around Neuss

The weather forecast for today was a significant electrical storm but it looked OK out of the window (dark clouds but dry) at 7am so I decided to go out riding straight away to try to avoid the worst of the weather.

I decided to go alongside the Rhein on the good cycle path to the Altstadt and then decide when I got there what to do next (dependent on whether it was raining). I had my waterproof with me, which was needed as it was a bill chilly at 7:15am.

I have noticed several times some graffiti on a bridge but not photographed it, so I thought I’d give it a go today.

Dunno the story behind this – “Tell my wife I love her very much she knows” – hope it wasn’t someone who jumped off the bridge.

I knew that the cycle path on the other side of the Rhein near Neuss is a bit complicated but couldn’t remember where the complication started (i.e. whether I would encounter it on my way back following my plan to cross over at the Kardinal-Frings-Brücke). The answer is yes, I had lots of cycling along paths beside busy roads and crossing tram tracks. There is a short cut across Neuss harbour but I couldn’t find my way up onto the bridge that goes over the harbour so had to give up. The main Rhein route isn’t signposted that way anyway.

As I crossed the bridge back to the Düsseldorf side of the river I thought I’d photograph this sign:

It’s a bicycle friendly town, you see, and it really is. Although so is everywhere else, from what I have experienced.

26 miles today, and I bought some blackforest gateau on the way home and ate it with a cup of tea back in my room. Yummy.

A couple of photos from yesterday, too. This is the road near where my language class is taking place – they seem to be relaying a bridge/tram section and it all looked very complicated.

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Düsseldorf – Erft Valley

Despite the weather forecast last night suggesting we were in for more rain this morning, when I looked out of the window at 7am it looked reasonable, so I decided to venture out a bit further afield today.

I decided it would be nice to redo my Erft Valley ride, but this time the other way round (i.e. the less interesting part first, finishing off with the attractive river section).

I set off at 8:15 wearing a windproof jacket and with my packaway waterproof in my pannier – I didn’t trust that we wouldn’t have another downpour again.

The first fifteen miles of this twenty-five mile route aren’t that exciting, mainly on paths alongside mediumly-busy roads. The motorway bridge across the Rhein, along which I cycled, was VERY busy with all the rush hour traffic. Things soon quietened down when I got away from the busier roads as I wended my way through Rosellerheide and Neukirchen.

In the tiny village of Helpenstein I spotted this interestingly small chapel.

I went round the back and found a couple of benches and a locked door.

But peering through the glass pane in the door I saw this rather lovely window.

I continued on, finding myself now riding alongside the river Erft. I went past this very posh building which seemed to be a mixture of houses and perhaps businesses but I presume used to be a Kloster or something.

I stopped on a bridge over the Erft to enjoy the scenery.

Then, a bit further on, my way was blocked by a lorry and a digger. Being Germany, there had been no warning of this (and there was no signposted alternative route), but, also being Germany, the digger driver moved back a bit so I could squeeze past. They’re less interested in health & safety here.

Although the sun was now out, it was still fairly cold; I was wearing shorts but would have preferred longs really. Still, the rain had kept away, which was good stuff.

After a brief trip to the shops for a salad for lunch I made my way home. Awaiting, with bated breath, the post.

Hurrah!

An emergency ration parcel from home, containing:

Which is a real relief as I was down to my last teabag!

I made myself a fab brew when I got in, washed down with a nutty pastry thingie I had bought (but forgot to photograph before I ate it). Yum.

Three more morning rides here before I return to England.

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Venlo – Düsseldorf

Today’s trip was to Venlo, Holland, by train, cycling back.

The train to Venlo is one of the new Eurobahn trains which have loads of room for bikes and are very comfortable. However there’s this weird issue where they’re not allowed to be used in the Netherlands (something to do with validating the type of train for Dutch railways) so the train only goes as far as Kaldenkirchen (a couple of miles from Venlo but still in Germany) and then you have to change to an old Deutsche Bahn train which chugs its way to Venlo, a journey time of four minutes.

Because the DB train from Kaldenkirchen to Venlo is old-style it’s a mega pain to get the trike on so I decided not to bother with that bit of the trip, but to start my ride in Kaldenkirchen and head to the border so I could have a few minutes in Holland. The train ticket was much cheaper too, a bargainous 10,50€ rather than 15,00€ to Venlo.

Anyway, I hopped on the train at 9:48 and off we pootled towards Venlo. Except, weirdly, when we got to Mönchengladbach we were told we had to get off this train and get on a different one which was waiting for us on Platform 5. Mönchengladbach’s lifts are too narrow for the trike so I had to carry it down the stairs and then back up the other side to Platform 5. I’m actually getting very good at carrying the trike so that wasn’t too much of an effort, as it happens.

The train didn’t leave Mönchengladbach for another ten minutes so we must have been significantly delayed compared to the timetable. A lady in the seat opposite struck up a conversation with me, saying that German trains were terrible and she really likes trains in England (she’s travelled from London to Brighton a couple of times). She talked to me about various holidays in England although couldn’t always remember quite where she’d been.

She had no idea why we’d had to change trains at Mönchengladbach and was also unaware of the Kaldenkirchen change bit. There were notices about it on the platform in Düsseldorf, plus it was also mentioned when I check Deutsche Bahn’s website this morning, but the lady thought it was bad form the information wasn’t on the train as well.

Anyway, we pootled our way westwards whilst I chatted with this lady. As we were approaching Kaldenkirchen there was an announcement from the conductor – this train would carry on to Venlo, no need to change at Kaldenkirchen. Result!

Except I only had a ticket to Kaldenkirchen. So I got off when we arrived there and stood, looking down the platform at nothing. It was like a ghost town, I couldn’t even see where the exit was. Right, I thought, I’m not having that – the train was still in front of me so I got back on. I would be a ‘Schwarzfahrerin’ for one stop. The train passengers thought it was very amusing.

Four minutes later we were in Venlo. As we got off the train I could hear an announcement over the tannoy explaining that people going towards Mönchengladbach/Düsseldorf/Hamm will need to change trains at Kaldenkirchen, so the Dutch still thought this was happening too, despite the fact it was a shiny new train that had pulled into the station.

So, anyway, enough train preamble – now I was cycling.

I was feeling a bit peckish when I arrived at Venlo so I bought a chicken sandwich and ate it out the front watching the world go by. It seems I was also being watched too – the sign is a good example of what life must be like in Venlo: confusing as it seems to be a mix of Dutch and German everywhere. I think I heard more German being spoken at the station than Dutch.

The route to Düsseldorf was one that I had downloaded from the Internet somewhere, and it turned out to be an excellent one. Previously, on my cycle tour last month with James, Wowbagger and Mrs Wow, we had cycled from Venlo to Mönchengladbach which is pretty much in the same direction, although not as far. We’d done that on roads, following a route that I had devised, but this route today was much better as it was on very quiet lanes and through parks and woodland, but always asphalted.

Within 5 minutes I was on paths like this:

I passed a field where people were flying gliders which they were re-assembling from trailers behind their cars.

My original plan was to get a photo of me standing with one foot in the Netherlands and one in Germany – there was an obvious border point when I cycled through at the end of May with James and the Wowbaggers, but on this scenic woodland route there was no border visible. I realised I must be in Germany when my Garmin started showing roads and features (I only have the Germany map on it at the moment so when in Venlo it was blank). This was confirmed by a sign I passed that showed Venlo as in NL.

It was a relief to know I was in Germany. It’s odd, but I always feel slightly uncomfortable in Holland – possibly because I don’t speak the language, but mainly because it just doesn’t feel right to me, in the way that Germany does. I had the same thing last week when I went to Arnhem to visit my friend – a real feeling of relief when driving home and I crossed the border into Germany.

There were lots of people cycling through this country park and I got a glimpse of this rather attractive lake.

I then found I was following a rather odd vehicle. It turned out to be a six-wheeled, articulated multi-person cycle which had six people on it (four in front with four wheels, and two further behind with two wheels articulated onto the back of the four-wheeler). I saw another of these round the corner so I imagine they were for hire somewhere.

I was cycling through the Nettetal which is a lovely route that had been recommended to me by Redfalo of CycleChat (who also very kindly lent me his maps of Düsseldorf and surroundings as he used to live there – they have come in most handy).

Eventually my route turned off the main signposted cycle route and I ended up going further east, including through a farmyard which had HUGE cow byres with a rather interesting roof. Take a look at all those photovoltaics!

In a little village (which I think was Lind) I came across this tiny church.

I then stopped for lunch in Dülken (near Viersen) which had a somewhat larger church

My lunch was a Jäger Schnitzel and orange juice at a real bargain price of just 7,60€ for the lot.

As I was making my way through Viersen I saw these bicycles which contained flower arrangements (which had rather dried out). I think I must have seen at least 20 of these bikes.

I then spent ages cycling through a very flat and featureless section of farmland (mostly wheat and sweetcorn). There were several wind turbines and at one point the path went about 10 metres from one. Goodness me, they are large things! And the blades make a very interesting noise whistling through the air.

It was starting to spit with rain at this point and I was about 15 miles from home so I decided to stop for a cup of tea. I hadn’t bought my own teabags with me (I am running dangerously low, and am awaiting a parcel of teabags my mum has posted to me which hasn’t yet arrived) so I had to dare some German tea. I had a long discussion with the waitress and I ended up with some Darjeeling which was OK but which didn’t quite hit the spot the way Tetley would have done.

The tea was washed down with some cake, of course.

I then sallied forth, noting that the drizzle had stopped. Good.

Except, as I found myself almost at the Rhein (with a fair way still to go as I was rather far north) the rain started again, significantly. In the end it was so heavy that I decided to seek shelter and stood in a group with several other cyclists under an awning next to the German Rescue Service headquarters for Düsseldorf. After half an hour the rain eased off a bit and I was pretty bored so decided to head off. The sky looked pretty dodgy so I expected to get wet again.

Which I did, ten minutes later, as I was crossing the Rhein. Rather than following my route alongside the Rhein (scenic cyclepaths) I got my Garmin to take me on a direct route back. It was hard to see the Garmin as there was rain all over the screen and I had to stop for shelter to change the batteries. Unfortunately I didn’t have my waterproof Vaude panniers, I was instead using the showerproof Sidepods which are lighter but I was a little concerned about my camera getting wet. Fortunately it was OK.

When I got home I was utterly drenched. The trike went in the car to dry off and I ended up having to wash my windproof and all the clothes I was wearing; they were so wet anyway, I might as well finish the job. Although the lady who is renting me the room does washing, she takes about a week to do it – and I don’t have enough clothes for that – so I’ve started washing my own stuff. I wonder if she’ll notice!

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Düsseldorf – Krefeld

Today, being Saturday, was a chance for a longer ride. But not too long, as I’m planning to go to Venlo (Netherlands) by train tomorrow and cycle back which will be a 50 mile day.

I decided this morning that I’ve been unfair to the north part of Düsseldorf after my less successful visit to Duisburg a couple of weeks ago, so I’d give it another chance – not going all the way to Duisburg but turning round at Krefeld.

So, off I set, in some light drizzle and wearing longs and a windproof top – English cycling clothing that I haven’t needed so far during the Düsseldorf heatwave, which has now broken. I followed my usual route along the Rhein past the garden centre at Flehe. A large flock of sheep and goats had appeared overnight and were presumably cutting the grass.

I crossed the river opposite the Altstadt. Here’s a view of the posh front of Düsseldorf from the bridge.

And this is the big funfair which opened last night (with half an hour of fireworks I could hear from my room 4 miles away)

I followed my previous route towards Krefeld, including crossing the super-narrow bridge. The photo I took last time didn’t come out for some unfathomable reason so I took a few more.

My trike is about the maximum width to fit through there!

I thought last time I had visited Krefeld but I hadn’t quite as it’s not beside the river but slightly inland. Instead I had visited Uerdingen, but as it was a nice place I thought I’d stop and have lunch there. I plumped for an English Breakfast, which vaguely resembled an English Breakfast but not quite (the bacon wasn’t quite right, only two small pieces of toast, but the eggs were OK. But where was the sausage, mushrooms, hash browns, tomatoes, fried bread?…)

Still it gave me some fuel after 20 miles, and my own teabag meant I had a decent cuppa too.

I crossed the bridge at Uerdingen to return to the eastern bank of the Rhein. This is looking back on Krefeld’s docks.

This is looking back at the bridge now I had set off southwards towards Düsseldorf.

I passed Kaiserswerth, the airport (lots of low-flying jets overhead) and made my way through fields and villages. At one point I saw a pair of floating markers on the Rhein but I don’t know what they mean; undoubtedly James will.

As I approached Düsseldorf Altstadt the traffic (bicycle, walking and rollerblading) increased significantly. Fortunately the day was warmer and I no longer needed my windproof, but it was still a little overcast at times.

I saw this rather amusing set of pennants advertising a Düsseldorf boat place (boot in German) – I think the designer hadn’t thought what it would look like from the wrong side:

Loads of people were using the funfair and there was a boat taking people across the river directly to it.

I also passed these Dutch beer bicycles.

And stopped on the little pedestrian bridge over the Hafen to watch this sailing boat try to make headway against the tide.

There was a pretty strong wind blowing southwards (i.e. helping him) but he really wasn’t making much progress. Just after I took this second shot he turned round and went back the other way at great speed.

I stopped off at the café whose owner has a HP Velotechnik Skorpion recumbent trike for some food – this time Apfelkuchen. The orangey colour is from the sunshade.

When I got home (via the supermarket) I had done 45 miles. The weather’s cheered up nicely now and I have a nice quiet evening in with the Pride & Prejudice DVDs…

One interesting thing I noticed – my weekly mileage whilst here in Düsseldorf is remarkably consistent. Take a look at this screenshot from Ascent which breaks July down into weeks:

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Düsseldorf – Unterbacher See again

Short 15 mile ride this morning as I ended up doing 15 miles yesterday after my lesson, thus did 45 in total.

I re-did a route I’ve done twice before, this time the other way round and cutting out some more off-road sections.

I left at 9am and arrived at the Unterbacher See at 9:45am – it was incredibly still and tranquil.

I don’t doubt that on Sunday afternoons all these bike spaces are filled.

As I returned to the Düsseldorf town limits I photographed this sign – they seemed to be twinned with everyone!

And then settled down back in my room with my post-cycling treat, a cuppa and a slice of Apfelkuchen.

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Düsseldorf – the Altstadt and the Helter Skelter bridge

The first cool day since I’ve been in Germany, a very comfortable 22 degrees and overcast so it felt colder.

After last night’s rain I fitted my front mudguards (thinking the routes might be a bit mucky) and set off for the Helter Skelter bridge, which is north of the Altstadt.

I arrived at the bridge after 14 miles (I took the scenic route that stays beside the river).

Here I am looking back at Düsseldorf to the south:

I went across the bridge from East to West (no interesting Helter Skelter on the Eastern side).

Then at the end, a warning…

I looked down and saw someone coming up the bridge so waited for him to get to the top before I set off.

As I went down I filmed it with my camera. Unfortunately it’s 29mb so I need to do something with the file before I can upload it – that something may require me to be at home in England with the other Mac which has video editing tools. We’ll see.

And at the bottom:

I cycled back along the western bank for a little while, passing a field which had these chappies in it:

Then home in light drizzle for lunch.

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Düsseldorf – Neuss – Zons again

Forecast was for mega rain this afternoon and this evening so I planned to put the rack and Vaude panniers on the trike after my morning constitutional ride.

I decided to redo the route that crosses the river to Neuss on a bridge and then crosses back over at Zons with the little ferry. It’s a nice route, mostly quiet roads or cycle path, and there are some short cuts in case I have a disaster and have to rush home.

I have managed to avoid photographing any bridges today, but I did snap this barge which was covered in tractors (but the photo didn’t come out very well, unfortunately)

I also saw a pole with loads of shields with images on in Stürzelberg (which was rather a nice little village).

There’s an equivalent one of these the other side of the river after the Zons crossing (sorry about the bad photos)

As I approached Zons I did a slightly different route than the GPX track had, which took me all the way around that little bight at the bottom left hand corner of the map. The path was a bit rough there so I see why the downloaded GPX cut the corner off.

The ferry was on my side of the river when I arrived and I got on with about another 10 bikes and 3 cars. This was 10am.

Once on the other side of the river I whizzed round Schloss Benrath, then enjoyed the ride through the Hasseler Forst which leads across to the two lakes (which I didn’t visit this time round). I didn’t follow the original route at the end which was a bit awkward and involved going over a railway on a narrow and steep bridge, I instead just took main roads home.

It was a nice sunny day today and getting warmer. When I got back I extracted the trike rack from my car and fitted it and used my Vaude waterproof panniers for the afternoon’s lessons. Of course, it didn’t rain – it’s only just started now.

Tomorrow may also be a bit rainy so I’m not sure of my plans for a ride yet.

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Düsseldorf – Neukirchen

I got up a bit later this morning and had planned to just do a vague ride but in the end decided to plan something a bit more interesting with the maps that Redfalo from CycleChat lent me.

I crossed over the more northerly bridge and made my way into Neuss, following a rather lovely river called the Erft.

Which is apparently a canoeing river – you can see the slalom poles in the background.

I then came to a very attractive mill.

The other side of which had this lovely, calm river.

The cycle routes were all excellent on this stretch – mostly asphalted with just a few gravel patches and some odd areas of cobbles.

Eventually I arrived at this village (can’t remember its name) which was decked out in bunting throughout. What tickled me about this particular section was that in the foreground on the left hand side someone has hung out some silk boxer shorts for their bunting – I think it’s just about visible in the photo.

The first 15 miles of the ride were really nice, mostly cycle paths through fields and alongside rivers. However the final 10 miles were less exciting, following roads on cycle paths beside them. I have plans to re-do this route backwards next week to see everything from a different perspective.

I crossed over the motorway bridge back to the correct side of the Rhein.

I’d done 24.5 miles by the time I got home and it was a very pleasant trip indeed.

Oh, and my cycling sandals suntan is still as impressive as ever!

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Düsseldorf – A short Altstadt visit

After yesterday’s longer trip I didn’t want to venture anywhere too exciting today so just cycled along the cycle paths to the Altstadt and then back again (I’ve done this route a few times before).

The only thing of note was that they were having some chaps examine one of the bridges from a hanging gondola which was slowly making its way up the wire supports.

I did 23 miles before returning home for lunch and some homework.

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Overwinter – Düsseldorf

Today was my long ride day, seeing as I don’t get a chance to do long rides during the week and I went to Arnhem yesterday.

Last night, after a bit of general googling and looking at railway timetables, I decided I would get a train somewhere this morning and then cycle back. But train to where?

As I like the section from Köln to Düsseldorf and I remember the Bonn section was nice (Pippa and I cycled it last September) I thought I’d get the train to Bonn. I then decided that was a bit tame and I’d instead get the train to a stop a little further than Bonn to give myself a few more miles. The train from Düsseldorf to Koblenz stopped at somewhere called Overwinter south of Bonn so that was to be my destination.

Now I have to say, I’m getting quite good with trains now. Firstly, I’ve learned how to decode all the information in the stations so you actually know where the bicycle carriages will be. Secondly, using my Trice with just the sidepods and not full panniers means it’s very lightweight and easy to pick up and carry up and down stairs. Thirdly, I’ve got the Düsseldorf to Koblenz train several times now so I know what sort of a train to expect.

The train arrived at the station at 9:58 and I got on, finding the bicycle space surprisingly empty (only five bikes, and all of those were getting off at Koblenz; not on their own, mind you – they needed riders to help them off the train. But it meant I could block them in).

Of course we then went through Köln and Bonn where more people got on and it all got a bit squashed and awkward. When we arrived at Oberwinter four people had to get off, with their bikes, so I could get out. They all got back on and I stood faffing with my flag (which had got a bit twisted with all the manhandling off the train) and then I heard a whistle – it was the driver, and he asked me if all was OK. I said yes, you can go, and off he went. And the rest of the train went with him, of course. It was now 11:15 and I was setting off on my 60 mile ride home.

Once I was out of the station (which involved carrying the trike downstairs and then discovering it wouldn’t fit out of the station door – I wrestled with the second door till it eventually opened. It would have been unfortunate to have to disassemble the trike to get out of the station building.

Anyway, I was about 100 metres from the Rhein Radweg so made my way there and filtered in with all the other Radweg traffic, of which there was a lot. This is because it is (a) Summer; (b) the start of the school holidays; (c) a Sunday, when all the shops are shut so all you can do is go cycling; and (d) a pleasantly warm day at 27 degrees.

The very beginning of this ride was in scenery more reminiscent of the Mosel with hills to the sides and vineyards and castles. It flattened out almost immediately, however, into scenery more familiar to me from this stay in Düsseldorf.

It wasn’t long at all before I reached Bonn which has a lovely promenade for cyclists, walkers and skaters. There were loads of in-line skaters around, including one pushing a Burley child’s trailer. I also saw, in Bonn, both a recumbent bike and a recumbent trike (not together) and also a Weimaraner doggie. I also saw Moby Dick.

Each kilometer of the Rhein has markers to show the distance from the source (which are also subdivided into 10 as well). You can’t always see them but I remember last September Pippa and I trying to get a photo of ourselves by number 666 which is just south of Bonn. But we couldn’t get near it. They must have moved it (or the path) as, after I took the photo of the marker across the river, I noticed it on my side too!

The section from Bonn to Köln is also pleasant and as lunchtime was approaching I stopped off at a Biergarten to have some soup and an orange juice, parking behind an upright trike. I set off again at 2pm.

I saw several more recumbents over the next 20 miles or so (my day’s total was 1 trike, 5 bikes, a Hase Pino tandem and a normal tandem). I saw everlasting bicycles, also several dog trailers with dogs in, dogs in baskets, and probably at least 50 kiddie trailers with children in. The Germans really do like their cycling as a family event. This lady had two jack russells in her basket – I asked her if the dogs liked going on the bike and she said they loved it.

It’s not all pretty on the route as there are some industrial bits – and this was one of ’em.

But soon I could see Köln in the distance – that huge cathedral again!

I arrived at Köln in due course, taking a photo of the bridge with the love padlocks as they were all glinting in the sun (although I don’t think that has worked in the photo, unfortunately).

I saw the Rhein Energie catamaran again which is a tour boat.

This is a bridge over a small harbour area north of Köln.

From Köln I continued north around Merkenich (the Ford works) again, although I stayed on the road rather than the cycle path as it’s like a ghost town on a Sunday and much easier riding.

I then stopped for a cup of tea and piece of Apfelstreusel at Wesseling

And went past this pretty church

I cycled for a long time along a bank which looked down onto huge fields of sweetcorn.

before continuing on to the Ferry at Zons.

The last five miles were on main roads directly back to my accommodation rather than faffing around on the cycle path round Himmelgeist.

Including my ride to the station this morning, I did 60.2 miles today. It was a good day and I’m looking forward to my Wiener Schnitzel which is currently in the oven…

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