Category Archives: Mosel 2009

Auntie Helen’s first ever cycle tour – solo – of the Mosel and Rhein in Germany

Mosel 2009 – Harwich to home

Day 11 – Wednesday 3rd June

Distance: 15.63 miles; time: 1:18:10; Average speed: 12.0 mph; Max speed: 26.9 mph

So… I woke up and looked out of the window across to the Shotley peninsula. Yes, we were docked at Harwich. I collected my trike, disembarked and then cycled the fifteen miles home along the A120 (fast route rather than scenic country lanes). It was rather enjoyable to be able to go fast on the road and not weave my way around a cycle path.

I stopped off for some milk in Wix and found various people chatting to me – perhaps it was the early hour and they were feeling friendly as they went to fetch their newspapers, or perhaps it’s that they don’t see a laden recumbent tricycle with German and British flag on it very often.

Anyway, I got home safe and sound, set off all my cycling clothes to wash and played catch-up on the computer.

Overall I’ve really enjoyed the cycling holiday, saw some fab scenery and ate some good food. I didn’t spend all my cash and didn’t even have a puncture. I hope to do another tour in the near future but for more than a few days I think I need to tag along with a group!

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Mosel 2009 – Bad Breisig to Hoek van Holland (train-assisted!)

Day 10 – Tuesday 2nd June

Distance: 24.26 miles; time: 2:50:16; Average speed: 8.6 mph; Max speed: 18.2 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 1347; total tour distance 448 miles.

So today was my day for travelling home. I came down to breakfast early and was out of the hotel by 8:15am. I purchased my train tickets to Venlo in Holland (best part of 30€) which included a 4,25€ ticket for the bicycle. The train arrived and I couldn’t see the markings for the bicycle carriage so put the bike on the nearest one.

When the conductor turned up after a few minutes he asked me to move the bike to the bicycle carriage which was at the rear of the train. He said I’d have time to do this at Bonn so when we reached Bonn I got the bike out, and the panniers (I had taken them off to make the bike easier to manoeuvre), I then wheeled it down the platform dodging passengers who weren’t looking where they were going, but then the platform cleared and I was worried the train would take off without me so I hopped onto the nearest carriage, which was in fact the front part of the final one. There was more room here but when the conductor arrived again he asked me to move, which I did at Köln. The final set of doors opened to a huge area for bikes which was excellent, with a very low doorway; it would have been nice to be there at the beginning but I didn’t know where the carriage was.

The train journey to Düsseldorf was an hour and a half as the train stopped at lots of little stations along the way. Once we arrived at Düsseldorf I had 45 minutes until my next train, to Venlo, so I went to buy some food for lunch. Düsseldorf’s lift is too small for my trike so I had to drag it down the stairs. I took the panniers off and carried it up the stairs to the correct platform, retrieving the panniers after I got it to the top. This was much easier than manhandling a tail-heavy trike and I wish I’d realised this beforehand. In fact, wheeling it around with the panniers on the seat, rather than on the rack, was much easier; firstly because the weight was over the two wheels so it was lighter to wheel, and secondly because the panniers were so wide they kept the handlebars straight so it followed much more easily. My journey to Germany would have been much easier if I’d known that at the time!

The train from Düsseldorf to Venlo was the same sort as on my journey out, so the conductor disconnected the pole between the door. The bike area was larger than before, however, so it was easy to stow the trike.

I had 20 minutes at Venlo to buy my Dutch tickets (one for me, one for the trike) to Rotterdam which came to 30€. I had to change platforms but the station attendants led me and a couple of people with prams across a crossing point on the tracks, rather than up and down stairs. They also showed me to the right part of the train to Rotterdam which was very spacious.

Well, until thousands of young people got on at Eindhoven. They had been at the Pinkpop festival and had huge bags, tents and stuff. They had all their luggage strewn around the carriageway and were lying on it on the floor – also lying partially on my trike and bending the mudguard out of shape. I told them off but they pretended not to understand me, although a Dutch lady said to me after they got off at Breda that they had understood, they were just trying to look cool.

From Rotterdam I made use of my bicycle for the first time that day as a mode of transport. The lady on the train had told me that the cycle path to Hoek van Holland was very well signposted the whole way. She was partly – but not totally – correct. I had a route on my bike satnav as well but it was a different route (one I’d got off the internet) so wasn’t always helpful when I lost the way due to disappearing signage. But I had oodles of time as my Dad had booked my ferry crossing for me and embarkation was between 7pm and 9pm and I left Rotterdam at 2pm.

I faffed around in Hoek van Holland for a bit, buying a replacement mirror for my trike and some food to eat for the evening (the restaurants on the ferry are very expensive). I was one of the first onto the ferry and went straight to my room, having my first shower for 10 days without washing my clothes too. I went to sleep at 9pm, tired after all the travelling.

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Mosel 2009 – Hatzenport to Bad Breisig

Day 9 – Monday 1st June

Distance: 68.97 miles; time: 6:03:20; Average speed: 11.3 mph; Max speed: 20.2 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 4382; total tour distance 423.65 miles.

When I got up this morning I felt a bit weary of the packing/unpacking/washing of clothes/carting everything about and wondered when to call the tour a day and go home. The more the day progressed, the more I felt the time was right to head home, so that’s what I’m doing tomorrow – getting the train to the Hoek van Holland and the overnight ferry crossing, arriving home on Wednesday morning.

Anyway, I set off from Hatzenport this morning at nine and crossed over the Mosel as soon as I could to take the other bank (thus not retrace my steps of last week). The signage was very keen for me to cross over again and it became clear why – a large part of this route was just on the road with the cars without even a cycle track. That doesn’t worry me, of course, and it meant I made good time to Koblenz.

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The cycle path around Deutsches Eck was buried under Imbiss stalls, little market stalls selling trinkets, beer stands and the like. Clearly making the most of Pfingsten, the place was heaving with people wandering around buying stuff. To avoid the worst of the crowds I had to go on a rather cobblestoney road which felt like it was shaking my fillings out of my teeth.

From Deutsches Eck southwards along the Rhine the cycle path suddenly turned into a woodland track. Very pretty, but some dodgy signage meant I lost my way a little and found myself attempting to ascent a pretty steep gravelly slope. As often happens in this situation with the trike, where the rider’s weight is rather more over the front wheels than the back one, I found my pedalling was just spinning the rear wheel. Fortunately a nice German chappie appeared and pushed me up the hill – at the top was the correct cycle path. Trices aren’t that good at off-roading, as I had previously discovered.

The route alongside the Rhine was rather nice – I saw a very impressive castle (can’t remember its name!) and watched lots of tourist ships and barges going past.

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The world and his wife was out on the cycle paths today, walking and cycling with dogs and children in tow. It is quite difficult sharing the paths with walkers at times as they tend to spread out a bit and don’t always move to the left when you ring your bell to overtake them.

I arrived at Boppard which was the first major town south of Koblenz on the Rhine.

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I stopped here for a drink and a rather fab strawberry gateau with cream, and thought about my plans.

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I couldn’t decide whether to press on to Bacharach or Bingen, then travel back the next day to Bad Breisig or somewhere north, or to call it a day today. In the end I decided to turn round at Boppard and cycle back to Bad Breisig, a longish day but a nice ride.

I arrived at Bad Breisig at 5pm feeling pretty tired after six hours in the saddle. I returned to the same hotel, Hotel Anker, and they recognised me and gave me an even nicer room this time! After freshening up I went to investigate trains to Venlo (I have to go to Düsseldorf, then change to a train to Venlo) and it will be 27,70€, although the machine only takes cards and there is no ticket office. Not sure if my card will work, I shall give it a go tomorrow and if not I shall try to buy a ticket on the train. There was a choice of three different bicycle tickets, not sure of the difference, but the most expensive is 4,50€ and the cheapest 2,50€ so I’ll probably go for the pricey one for safety’s sake!

I then went to the posh hotel that has internet for guests (from where I am typing this) and worked out the Dutch trains, which will be 25,50€ and the bicycle ticket (which is 5,70€ I think), so I’ll be spending a fair bit on trains tomorrow. My father had phoned Stena line for me to find out if there were spaces on the overnight crossing tomorrow, which there are, and whether I can just roll up and buy my ticket at the harbour, which I can. So I will.

Tonight I shall have a good hearty meal at the hotel (the last one was very good!) as I’ve not eaten much today apart from a banana and the strawberry gateau and I’ve burned off a lot of calories.

Bad Breisig at dusk:

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Met a lady with a wonderful 9-week-old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy and had a chat with her about dogs in general and Weimaraner naughtiness in particular. Her puppy was still quite bitey and chewed some of my hair – I’m not too sure of the German commands for doggies but ‘Nein!’ seemed to work OK to stop the hair-biting.

I’m not particularly looking forward to the train journeys tomorrow but have decided it will be easier if I take the panniers off at the station and manhandle the bike without them on. As long as I don’t leave them on the platform..

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Mosel 2009 – Bernkastel-Kues to Hatzenport

Day 8 – Sunday 31st May

Distance: 63.32 miles; time: 5:14:40; Average speed: 12.1 mph; Max speed: 23.4 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 3832; total tour distance 354.83 miles.

Today’s plan was to cycle to Cochem, 50 miles away. However I had a chat with the hotel owner and he thought accommodation problems in Cochem might occur as it was still Pfingsten. He thought that there would be accommodation available in some of the smaller villages around the larger towns so I decided to cycle to Cochem, visit the Internet cafe there, and then cycle on a bit further to find some cheap (and available) accommodation.

This plan seemed a good ‘un as I did notice some free rooms in the smaller villages I cycled through so hopefully that will be the case when I leave here on my way further westwards (here being Cochem).

Today’s route was the right hand side (southerly) bank of the Mosel and it was very nice. There was an unfortunate piece of off-road, however, rather like the Wivenhoe Trail near Colchester, which is a dusty and rough surface – and this path had grass going up the middle (which one front wheel has to go through). It was also surprisingly hilly – but I made it, admittedly using my Granny Ring.

Major excitement of the morning was running into another two trikers – a chap on a Thorax with a trailer and his wife on an HP Velotechnik Skorpion. I had a sit on both trikes – the Skorpion looked really impressive. The man told me that he and his wife have sixteen bicycles, including a Trice! They must have an enormous garage!

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Took a photo with the camera’s self-timer as it was laid on the floor. The Radweg was quite busy so I think we annoyed some other cyclists by taking up most of the path!

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And here is a pic of me that the chap took and emailed. Note how I am dressed to cover up from the sun… it was very strong!

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There were loads of other cyclists out today, of course, as it’s a Sunday, but I made good speed to Cochem, getting here in 4 hours (for 50 miles). After I’ve finished on the Net I shall have an Apfelpfannkuchen mit Sahne and then hit the road for another 20 miles or so, to the other side of Treis-Karden, to find a nice village. There won’t be much to do when I stop apart from eat as it’s a Sunday so shops are shut, so I might as well do a high mileage day.

…and a further report…

So I set off from Cochem with a vague plan to stop in Hatzenport, a smallish village on the left hand bank of the Mosel. As hundreds of bikers passed me (including some very impressive Harleys and motor-trikes), I began to be a little concerned again that I wouldn’t find a place to stay. However when I rolled into Hatzenport after the 22km I found a place straight away that would do a room for 32,50€ for the night. My trike was parked amongst a lot of shiny motorcycles and I went to have a wander round Hatzenport after freshening up.

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There was some kind of outdoor event on so my evening meal was a Bratwurst with chips for 3,50€.

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When I got back to the hotel room and plugged my Garmin bike satnav in to charge… there was nothing! I noticed also that the lights in the room weren’t working. I reported this to the landlady and her husband fiddled with the fuse box and fixed it. The same had happened to me the following morning, without me plugging anything in anywhere, so the electricity is clearly a bit temperamental.

My room was actually the first genuine single room I’ve had on this tour (i.e. with a single bed). I went down and had a cup of tea in the bar area – for which I was only charged 50 cents as I had brought my own teabag! – and the local chaps were chatting to me about where I was from. One of them knew Ipswich (vaguely) and was trying to tell me that Ipswich Town used to be a very successful football team. This sounded rather unlikely to me but I told him I wasn’t very knowledgeable about football.

I have been considering my luggage and whether I packed well. It seems that I did, the washing line being brilliant. I have about the right number of clothes, I think, although I’ve only worn my waterproof jacket at Harwich whilst waiting for the ferry when I left. However I haven’t used my tools except for the allen keys (including puncture repair kit, etc) and I haven’t used my German dictionary. Apart from that, everything else has been used, so I’ve done well.

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Mosel 2009 – Heading back again: Trier to Bernkastel-Kues

Day 7 – Saturday 30th May

Distance: 40.86 miles; time: 4:48:55; Average speed: 10.7 mph; Max speed: 23.1 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 2644; total tour distance 291.51 miles.

Well James is at Portsmouth, apparently, (I phoned him last night), so I have probably cycled further than they have sailed in that time!

I took the other side of the Mosel path out of Trier and it was slightly nicer than the way in. The Mosel Radweg book showed two different routes through the village of Kenn but somehow I found a third which involved going down a grassy path (I had to ask some Polish fishermen exactly where I was) and then I appeared to pedalling fast towards a motorway.

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Fortunately there was another road so I didn’t have to hit the Autobahn but ended up cycling underneath it after having to drag my trike up a dusty slope to the Radweg from the road. Not fun. Once again, Auntie Helen gets lost!

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I met a recumbent rider today on a Quix (a yellow trike) and we had a good chat. He said he has 40-something gears (didn’t catch the exact number). We chatted for about 15 minutes until his wife, on a normal bike, got bored.

I stopped for lunch at Neumagen-Dhron and had some Zwiebelsuppe (onion soup) with Riesling in, so I have finally sampled some of the produce of this valley.

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It was a lovely sunny day and loads of families were out, including a chap being towed along by a Weimaraner.

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I don’t suppose we could get Lucy to do that – she’s too wimpy and would probably drag us under a bus or after a rabbit. There were also quite a few fast sporty riders out, often on the road rather than Radweg. I haven’t seen many like this so far this tour although there are always loads cycling around at home. Most people seem to ride in jeans and t-shirt rather than lycra. I also saw several dog trailers, sometimes with the dog in, sometimes with it running alongside. There were zillions of caravans and motorhomes at the campsites, mostly with German registration plates, and 2 out of 3 with satellite dishes on the roof. Can’t do without their television! Mind you, I did watch ‘The Dish’ (about the moon landings) in German this evening.

Random seaplane:

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Rather ironically, considering that I have reversed my direction, I had a headwind again. At least it keeps me cool – although it’s dead warm outside, the draught the trike creates means I’m not overheating, which is good.

Travelling back through Mülheim I managed not to get lost like last time (hurrah!) and then arrived in Bernkastel-Kues which was lovely but utterly heaving with people.

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The Hotel Alter Posthof was very nice and friendly and my trike was tied to a tree in the yard which was locked at night.

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I found a rather bad internet cafe so couldn’t write much. I also found a cycle shop which was closed but had a rather cool inner-tube vending machine outside.

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I also saw an anthrotech recumbent trike tied up outside a guest house in Bernkastel, so that’s the second of the day!

Worked my way through a good portion of M&Ms after my dinner of schnitzel before ‘The Dish’ and bed.

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Mosel 2009 – Traben-Trarbach to Trier

Day 6 – Friday 29th May

Distance: 60.58 miles; time: 5:03:53; Average speed: 12.0 mph; Max speed: 25.0 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 3894

So… this morning I realised I didn’t know what time breakfast was, so decided to aim for 7:30am which would give me plenty of time to get on the road for my longest distance day in the current plans (100km, not including my diversions for getting lost). I woke up early again so listened to, and finished, my talking book. Started the next one, Lindsay Davis’s “The Course of Honour” which is a historical novel about the emperor Vespasian (I have heard it before). Rather suitable for today’s trip to Trier which is the Colchester of Germany (i.e. Roman place, not because it has Essex Girls in, or at least not that many I hope).

I was so early for breakfast that they hadn’t yet got the fresh rolls in (I had standard brown bread) and the boiled eggs weren’t ready either. I think a day without eggs might well be a good thing, however.

My trike came out of the shop OK although the mirror had a bit of a thwack in the doorway. I then had a little chat with the landlady about where I was going and she warned me that hotel rooms would be VERY hard to come by in Bernkastel-Kues on Saturday night as it’s Pfingsten, the German Whitsun, which is a big public holiday. I took her comments on board and decided to call in at Bernkastel on my way to see if I could book a decent room – and to avoid any desperate room searches like the first day in Köln.

So off I pootled, crossing the bridge at Traben-Trarbach and trying to find the cycle route. Eventually I found that it wanted me to go back over the bridge again and after 10 minutes I was cycling past my hotel again. All systems normal then. Although my plan was to cycle on the north side of the river all the signage was for the south side and in the end I gave up and went with the flow – with such a long day I didn’t want too many hopeless detours.

Today seemed to have more people out and about (no doubt taking a long Pfingsten weekend), including two occasions where I saw a man and woman cycling together with a small dog in the basket of the man’s bike.

I stopped at the Tourist Information centre at Bernkastel-Kues and the nice chappie found me a room in a very nice looking hotel for 40€ (although the small print suggests they may charge 5€ for my bike, which seems a bit steep). But I am relieved to know I’ve got somewhere organised for the busy Pfingsten holiday, and in such an attractive town.

I got lost at Mülheim which was a bit rubbish as two different routes crossed and I got a bit mixed up as to where I was. My GPS track will look quite amusing for that part of the journey – like a demented bee!

I stopped at Piesport for tea and waffles and realised it was warming up. Prior to this I had been wearing my armwarmers and a sleeved shirt over my vest top. At Piesport the armwarmers came off – it was a very bright sunny day with totally blue sky and even the Mosel looked blue.

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After I left Piesport I noticed my mirror on the left hand side was rather droopy. Close examination showed that the plastic arm had cracked (this had happened to a previous mirror too), which presumably happened when it came out of the shop this morning. I tightened it up with my allen key (first use of any of the large selection of heavy tools I’ve been carting around with me) but I know it’ll keep working loose until it gives up altogether.

I was now cycling along a beautiful stretch of fast Radweg through vineyards and onwards towards Trier. I got some cyclists to photograph me on the trike (to make a change from photos of the trike with no pilot) and had a 10 minute chat with them about cycling in Germany. My German was ‘really good’, apparently. The Germans are so polite!

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There was a very strange steps/slope thing that I had to negotiate which required me to pull myself up the steep slope with my right arm whilst pedalling as well. The slope was just wide enough for the trike but it was a close thing. If I had James’s trike, the Narrow Track version, I would have had far fewer problems with doorways and stuff – but then my trike is much nicer and has suspension so I still like it best!

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Funnily enough, I noticed many slopes that I was riding up that other cyclists were all pushing their bikes. Lazy cyclists! Nothing to do with the fact that my bike has some very low gears, of course.

Lunch stop was Detzem and another quaint little food establishment where I just had some tomato soup (didn’t feel like much) and a cup of tea as – horror of horrors – they had no Orangensaft. Working my way through my teabags today!

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Today’s average speed is, as you will notice, very good. For some reason I was zooming – the Radweg was good, of course, but I still can’t entirely account for why I am so fast today. Perhaps it’s all the smarties I ate last night. It may also be because I seem to have spent most of today on the big chainring (after writing yesterday that I was using the middle chainring all the time). Anyway, for whatever reason (warmer? less wind?) it means I covered the ground more quickly than expected and rolled into Trier at 4pm.

About 20km before Trier I stopped to photograph an enormous catamaran stuck in the middle of a vineyard (you don’t see that every day)

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Whilst I was there the midges came out of nowhere. They were everywhere and I had to cycle for the next 10km with my mouth firmly shut, periodically wiping midges out of my eyes (despite my glasses). I had my buff on my head but if I had another one I would have put it around my mouth… although now I come to think of it you can arrange the buff as a kind of balaclava, so I probably could have made the one buff do both jobs. Oops. Anyway, a bit of extra protein just adds to the joys of the journey.

Although the midges provided some nourishment, I spent most of today desperate for a banana… and fortunately was able to buy some when I got to Trier (and ate two straight away). German holiday food is fairly low in fibre and after a while one rather misses it!

The landscape changed as I cycled today from very steep hills to gentle hills to very few hills. Trier seems to be on a bit of an flood plain, although with some hills around it, and it meant it was harder for me to find where I was. The expected session of getting lost happened as I came into Trier, although I knew roughly where my chosen hotel was, and at one point I was on the main road with various motorists shouting ‘Radweg!’ at me, which is par for the course.

I arrived at the hotel, went in to check in and asked how much a single room was. 78€ said the woman. WHAT? The guidebook says 30-50€. “Ah,” she said, “but it’s Pfingsten.” Right.

So I went to the other hotel choice which was conveniently just round the corner. “How much for a single room with the Bett & Bike scheme?” “That will be 68€,” came the reply from a young chap. Yikes! So I set myself to trying to charm him with a sob story of having cycled 100km (which they seem to think is a long way) and wanting a rest and the fact that the guide book said 30-50€. This partly worked as he said he’d give me the room for 60€, “even though it’s Pfingsten.” Thing is, the major Pfingsten hotel madness is tomorrow, not today, but there you go. Captive market. So I agreed to the 60 (nearly ended up paying 70 as he shortchanged me, but fortunately I spotted it and he was very apologetic), paid in advance and went for my shower etc.

I can see partly where the extra cost was, because this is the poshest hotel room yet (although I really liked the hotel in Bad Breising, for just 35€). This one even has a hairdryer, which no doubt I will wield to help dry my clothes. It has a TV which a couple of the others have had – I watched the Full Monty with German dubbing t’other day.

Once I’d showered and hung my clothes up to dry I went out for a look around Trier which I had visited briefly on our boat tour last October. It’s a really nice place and the hotel happens to be right near the centre.
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I bought some bananas and, knowing that the shops would be shut for the Pfingsten holiday until Tuesday, bought some M&Ms to replace the smarties which I have nearly finished. In fact, to be shockingly honest, I’ve bought two big bags of M&Ms – one lot of peanut ones, one lot of chocolate ones. Weirdly, despite doing a higher mileage than normal, I don’t feel that I’m eating all that much, so I think I can get away with the chocolate. The mirror in the hotel in Bad Breising was slightly convex (concave??) and made me look thinner than reality which was most gratifying – goes hand-in-hand with the comment that Ian from Trikes ‘n Stuff said, which I often quote, “the more you wear lycra, the better you think you look in it.”

So I did the window shopping thing, plus banana-M&M purchasing. It’s odd going shopping when you know that whatever you buy you’ll be lugging around for the next week or so… concentrates the mind wonderfully. My diminishing stock of cash is still lasting quite well, I think I’ve spent about 400€ so far and have another 500 in cash. I can withdraw some more from my Deutsche Bank account, which I always expected to do, but it would be great if I can manage at least another week on the 500. But with hotels at 60€ that may not be possible.

So I’ve now had my first five full days, have cycled 250.65 miles on this tour (that includes the trip to Harwich from home, 15 miles) and only one thing on the trike and one thing on my luggage has broken. I’m off for yet another pizza shortly (have spotted a very cheap and pleasant-looking restaurant) which is good cyclist food. That’s my excuse anyway!

 

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Mosel 2009 – Treis-Karden to Traben-Trarbach

Day 5 – Thursday 28th May

Distance: 44.34 miles; time: 4:03:48; Average speed: 10.9 mph; Max speed: 21.0 mph; Calories (guesstimate as Garmin lost ’em): 3000

After breakfast I set off at 9am, wanting to get on the road so I could do my riding in the morning and hopefully arrive at either Traben-Trarbach or Bernkastel-Kues (whichever I feel like, Bernkastel is farther) with enough time to have a look around again.

I put on armwarmers today, not particularly because it was cold (although that headwind was there again) but more to keep my arms out of the sun for a day. I also decided to wear my other, much thinner-framed glasses, as I have very much the look of an owl about my face at the moment.

I didn’t see another cyclist for the first half hour (lazy people!) but as I neared Cochem, my internet-cafe stop, I saw a few. On my way back along the Mosel I will stop in Cochem for the night as I’d forgotten how nice it was! At the Internet cafe I was able to download my photos to my Flickr account which is rather good.

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The route from Cochem westwards was really good and fast and I was regularly cruising at 14mph, a first for this tour! The cycle path markings were also very good and easy to follow, which was useful as my German Tourist Board GPS route wanted me to cross over at Cochem and go on the other side of the river. Which I didn’t want to do – I plan to go all the way to Trier on the north side and all the way back on the south side. The Garmin had a hiccup anyway over a particularly dramatic bump and turned itself off (it does this about once a week over a big bump) and I didn’t notice instantly; annoyingly it forgets the calorie calculation so I’ve had to guess at calories for today, not that it’s that accurate anyway probably.

I had planned to stop for lunch at Bullay but then discovered it was the other side of the Mosel from the side I was cycling and I missed the bridge. Never mind, I trundled on to Zell which was a rather pretty village… mostly on the other side of the river. There was a footbridge that I used to get across the river which had a most exciting steep descent with plenty of rubber marks on the tarmac from madly-braking cyclists. My trike’s brakes are great so no problem.

I faffed about choosing somewhere for lunch (why? Everywhere is generally good in Germany) and ended up at yet another Italian restaurant. I parked my trike outside within view and settled down for a leisurely lunch as my overnight stop, Traben-Trarbach, was only another 21km further. Nothing like an Italian take on Chicken & Chips with Mushroom Sauce.

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As I was sitting down to eat the first drops of rain fell so I went to the bike to put the waterproof cover thingie over the panniers. Some passers-by had stopped to admire it and they asked what the cover was for. “Gegen Regen” I replied, rather pleased with the rhyming! The rain stopped within a minute so by the time I returned to the trike the seat was dry.

I had my first equipment failure, however; the clip on the strap of my rucksack snapped. I have done a temporary fix which works fine for the rucksack on my shoulder but not to attach it to the trike – however the other strap still works for that. It was previously fixed to the trike in four places and is now only three, but I still think that’s pretty securely attached.

Seeing as my journey isn’t probably going to be as long as it could have been I have arranged for a ticket for an Andreas Scholl concert on the 12th June at the Wigmore Hall. I was really keen to go but thought I couldn’t risk it as I might not be home; it looks very likely that I will be now so I contacted a friend who usually has spare tickets and lo and behold she did. Hurrah!

Anyway, I set off on the shortish journey from Zell to Traben-Trarbach which was through vineyards along their service roads. There was a fair bit of uphill but it meant I got some good views of the valley – the Moselle is particularly twisty at this point. It was also interesting to see the narrow tractors the winegrowers have that fit between the rows of vines.

On this tour I’ve seen a few tandems, including one towing a trailer; I reckon that where I have problems fitting my trike are probably similarly difficult for tandems, which are longer than my trike. But the vast majority of people are on normal bikes, mostly hybrids or bog-standard shopper types, a few mountain bikes and a very few racers. Virtually every shop has a bike rack outside and cycles are everywhere. Cars take really good care and seem to let me out at junctions very courteously. The cycling experience here is very good, and I just love those (mostly) flat routes.

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As I arrived at Traben-Trarbach, a very attractive town either side of the river (one side is Traben, the other Trarbach, but I have no idea which is which) and eventually found the hotel I had chosen from my Bett & Bike book.

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It is a very interesting looking old building and I’m on the 3rd floor. The room is OK, not brilliant, but the cost is 35€ for the night.

When I arrived and found they had a room I asked about the bike parking (something I think is very important). It turned out that the bike parking is actually an empty shop next to the hotel – with huge glass windows. So my bike has pride of place in there, although the hotel owner had to get her son to lift it through the rather narrow doorway.

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Some more spots of rain arrived as I entered the hotel so I timed that just right. The very friendly lady (who described me to her husband as ‘a really nice female cyclist’) offered me some free wine. When I said I didn’t drink wine she offered me grape juice, which I also turned down. I explained that I only drink tea, water and orange juice, and that I’d had loads of orange juice at lunchtime. We agreed I could have some free tea later. She then said my German was ‘perfekt’ which I think is rather overstating the case!

So a shower/clothes wash, unpacking my panniers (my non-SPD shoes are always at the bottom), a handful of non-melted Smarties and off I voyaged to the internet cafe that I’d seen as I cycled into the town. It’s the other side of the bridge between the two halves of the town, but of course I don’t know which side that is!

Traben-Trarbach looks like the sort of place that would be good to visit for a few days as it has lots of museums (including apparently a ‘Fahrrad Museum – eintritt frei’ which when I went in appeared to just be a wine shop rather than bicycle museum), lots of nice buildings and a never-ending supply of wine and food. I shall set off tomorrow morning, though, to reach Trier and the furthest point of my Mosel Voyage.

I raced a barge today (and won!) although he was going upstream – but I had a headwind (although so did he, I suppose).

So it’s been a good day and I’m looking forward to my cup of tea and some more smarties when I return to my room.

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Mosel 2009 – Bad Breisig to Treis-Karden

Day 4 – Wednesday 27th May

Distance: 48.35 miles; time: 04:39:32; Average speed: 10.4 mph; Max speed: 19.9 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 3011

Breakfast of cold meats and cheese with a boiled egg set me up for the morning’s ride, although I eschewed the black bread (I ate the two white rolls instead!). Had a refreshing cup of tea (3 down, 77 to go).

I set off at 9am and was pleased to find that yesterday’s headwind had dropped considerably. The path was good, running mostly alongside the river. However in places the path was quite rough as tree roots had lifted the asphalt. These weren’t always easy to see with the blossom/sunlight so my poor trike had quite a bumpy time. I wonder if it will ever be the same again after this tour – and the gears at the back aren’t as precise as they used to be!

Passed this strange obelisk with distances on them. Not sure what measurement the distances are as Koblenz was about 30km at this point.
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I reached Andernach which was rather industrial and necessitated a significant detour around various construction areas and a mini container depot.

After Andernach it wasn’t far to Koblenz and I stopped for a few minutes to look at the statue at Deutches Eck, where the Mosel flows into the Rhine.

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The preferred cycle route crosses over the Mosel into Koblenz so I followed this but missed the turning to join the Mosel Radweg (badly signposted) and ended up stuck in a cycle lane as part of the main road into Koblenz. I couldn’t turn around for a few minutes and still struggled to find the cycle path, locating it eventually.

My Garmin had a Mosel Radweg route courtesy of the German tourist board and I followed this – it was mostly right!

Lunch was Spargelcremesuppe in a very quaint Weinstube in Winningen. The ladies’ loos had lots of posters of semi-naked men on the walls!

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What was rather ironic was that as I turned westwards along the Mosel I suddenly found yesterday’s headwind! Fortunately the river twists and turns a great deal so there were some periods with shelter.

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The Radweg was quite up-and-down for the first ten miles, following the terraces of the vineyards and separated from the river by the road and railway line. There were some quite steep inclines but they were short enough that I didn’t have to resort to the granny ring.

In fact, I’ve noticed that I spend 99% of the time on the middle chainring, only using the big chainring very occasionally. At home I use the big chainring 90% of the time but they are much faster roads.

The landscape of the Mosel is very different from the Rhine – so far the north side (along which I’m riding) is planted with vineyards on the very steep terracing. There are occasional things that look like ladders or drainpipes but are actually tracks for little dollies used to transport things (or people?) as part of the viticulture. The hills are very steep-sided with all towns and villages huddled at the bottom of the slopes.

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The other side of the river, the south bank, has so far had much more forestation with only a few vineyards. I remember from the cruise last October that in most parts both sides are completely covered with vineyards.

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After a while the Radweg turned into a lane on the main road – the river-side lane, thus I was cycling towards oncoming traffic. It was wide enough for me and my panniers to pass another pannier-laden bike – just!

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At my lunch stop in Winningen I had looked at the guide book and discovered that hotels are cheaper in Treis-Karden than Cochem, 10km further on and a real tourist spot. I had visited Cochem last October and liked it but decided to go for the economy option in Treis-Karden instead. I arrived at 3pm, found the Hotel Moselblick and checked in. The price was 30€ B&B, the cheapest so far, and it was noticeable – the room had all that was necessary but looked a bit tired.

I had my shower – clothed again – although I struggled to coax hot water out at a decent pressure although cold was fine! I hung the clothes to dry on a line stretched between the TV and the radiator – whoever recommended me to bring some short clothes line was a genius!

I then went out to have some tea (4 down, 76 to go) and cake and to see if I could find an internet cafe, which I couldn’t (and various people I asked said there wasn’t one). I had a slice of nut and cream caike which was lovely though!

I then went for a wander and found the local supermarket. I was on the hunt for my usual chocolate rations although would have preferred a smaller overall amount. With the daytime temperature on the bike I can’t take it with me but eating 100g a day just seems too much (did I really just write that????) Anyway, I found a family bag of smarties which will hopefully do the trick.

The supermarket also sold books and lo and behold they had copies of ‘Der Vorleser’, one of the set books for next term at Uni, so I bought it. I will have something to read on the journey now when the talking book on my phone isn’t appropriate.

One very good thing on this tour so far is that there doesn’t seem to be any problem getting accommodation. I imagine it would be quite a problem in late July or August though.

Had dinner in a local pizzeria that had a TV screen above my head with a live feed from their stone oven – an ovencam!

Slept OK although the room had no curtains so once it grew dark I felt I couldn’t have the light on else all those sailing the Mosel would be able to see in.

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Mosel 2009 – Köln to Bad Breisig

Day 3 – Tuesday 26th May

Distance: 45.34 miles; time: 04:09:27; Average speed: 10.9 mph; Max speed: 18.7mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 2928

After 9.5 hours of sleep I felt much refreshed!

I had a good breakfast with a cup of tea (1 teabag down, 79 to go) and it made me realise that I didn’t have a single cuppa yesterday. Explains why I found the day so hard!

My clothes were magically dry and not too crispy so I packed everything away (I was wearing the other set of clothing), checked out at 9am and set off, crossing the Deutzer Brücke first so that I was cycling on the west bank (Köln side, which is apparently a nicer route). Saw Rheinenergie, newest Köln-Düsseldorfer cruise ship line boat.

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I trundled along the promenade past the cathedral (good photo opportunity of trike with an amazing work of architecture behind it), then went on a bit further.

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It was when I beheld a sign for Dormagen that I realised I might have made a mistake. I went through Dormagen yesterday! A glance at my Garmin confirmed the error – heading North-East. Yes, I had done the two miles in the wrong direction! I turned and retraced my steps/wheelmarks, waving happily (again) at the cruise ship that was docking; got dozens of friendly waves back (again).

Once I cycled under the Deutzer Brücke I knew I was on my way and made a mental note to keep the river on my left!

The forecast for today was rain (at least when I left England) but it was just cloudy when I left and it improved as the day went on. Although, I kid you not, we had a few spots of rain between 5:00pm and 5:02pm, despite no longer being in Köln. But I’m running ahead of myself there.

There was quite a strong headwind which meant I was forever wiping blossom out of my eyes (had the same problem yesterday), despite wearing quite large sunglasses. Sometimes the path looked like it was covered in snow, there was so much blossom.

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If yesterday hadn’t been that great, today was very different. Although my average speed wasn’t that high (10.9mph) because of the pedestrian traffic and occasional need to cross roads, the actual route was very good. Much of it was right beside the river so there was always plenty going on to watch. There were loads of other cyclists, many with large touring panniers, and I noticed that German tourers seemed to all have Ortliebs.

I passed some local cyclists but was only passed a couple of times all day – perhaps I’m going faster than I should, even if it’s not very fast.

I haven’t seen another recumbent here in Germany yet but I did see a photo of one – it was an advertising poster for the European Parliament elections and the prospective candidate was riding one. Vote for me, I’ve got a strange bike, perhaps.

Not all views were entirely attractive:

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I stopped for a piece of Apfelkuchen, some fresh water and a loo stop in Bonn.

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I carried on to Remagen where I had pizza for lunch, knowing there wasn’t that far to go to Bad Breisig which I had chosen as my next overnight stop. I had initially wondered about getting to Koblenz, about 40km further on, but I wanted some time to look around, plus the Koblenz hotels seemed more pricey according to my Bett & Bike book. It was lovely sitting eating pizza looking over the Rhine… and with my trike safely in view.

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The trip from Remagen to Bad Breisig was very short, only about 8km.

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I found the hotel I had chosen, Hotel Anker (Anchor) and it seemed really nice. My room was very spacious with a most decent en-suite, and all for 35€ including breakfast.

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They had a very good bike storage garage too!

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I had another shower in clothes, rigged up another washing line, and set off to have a look around. I got my 500€ note changed at a bank (phew, it’s scary walking around with a 480 pound note!), bought some more chocolate for dessert, topped up the credit on my German mobile phone, and then went in search of aninternet cafe. And searched. And searched. And asked some people… ‘No internet cafe in Bad Breisig’ I was told by two separate people, so i believed them. I had a cup of tea (2 teabags down, 78 to go) and slice of Himbeerschnitte and read the local paper, then wandered back. I passed a large hotel and thought, ‘I wonder if they have an Internet machine’. And lo and behold they did, thus this write-up.

Anyway, Bad Breisig is a lovely, quaint, picturesque place and has made a good stop on my very enjoyable journey. Tomorrow I plan to have lunch in Koblenz (40km) and then head off down the Mosel river, seeing how far I get comfortably. I think 4-5 hours on the trike is about right, it gives me time to do some sightseeing in the afternoon. I’m also toying with the idea of getting the train part of the way back – maybe Koblenz to Düsseldorf, maybe even further (Duisberg, if it goes that far?) as I think I’m in the picturesque bit now and have no great desire to retrace my steps from Köln to Düsseldorf… But I have a couple of weeks to work that out.

I’ve been interested to see how many Germans have butterfly bars on their bikes – and there are also a lot of Rohloff hubs in evidence. It’s the weather for muscle shirts and the German men I see on bikes seem generally to carry that look off very well too. Who knows what they think of me recumberating long with my bright red non-Ortlieb panniers…

The trike is a marvellous machine for cycle touring… once you’re on the road! The train bit isn’t fun, and the security issue is a slight headache, but cycling with all my luggage feels effortless and I certainly get a lot of comments from passers-by, even though few people have said much to me so far. But today has been very good and I look forward to tomorrow’s ride.

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Mosel 2009 – Train to Düsseldorf and three wheels to Köln

Day 2 – Monday 25th May

Distance: 34.71 miles; time: 04:05:49; Average speed: 8.5mph; Max speed: 30.5mph

Woke up horribly early (5am) while we were still at sea. Looked at the breakfast for sale but at €12.50 decided that was too much so had the banana I’d brought with me.

The tannoy called us to our cars so after some faffing with the lift I returned to the bike storage room. The Dutch man was there as well so helped me get my bike out – it was easier to manoeuvre without the panniers on.

Had my passport checked, then pedalled a grand total of 0.2 miles to the railway station at Hoek van Holland. I had decided, as it was 8am, to get a train from the Hook rather than cycle to Rotterdam – I already had the ticket as part of the ferry package, after all. I couldn’t catch a train with a bike until 9am but this turned out to be a good thing as it took me almost an hour to buy the ticket for my bike. The first ticket machine I tried wouldn’t speak English; when I had worked out the Dutch for a bike ticket, I discovered the machine only took cards – it didn’t like my debit card.

I then noticed a second ticket machine that took coins. Hurrah! So I went through the ticket-choosing rigmarole and it asked for 6€ for a bike ticket for the day. This was fine, except I only had 5,80€ in change. The man in the fish shop next to the ticket machines didn’t have any change either but directed me to the supermarket. I went there, bought a bar of chocolate (they had no fresh sandwiches whatsoever, which is what I wanted really), bought my bike ticket and ate my breakfast of 8 squares of chocolate.

The sprinter train duly arrived just after 9am. When the carriage door opened a pole in the centre looked like a problem but I squeezed the trike past it.

At Rotterdam there was a large lift which made it easy to get to the platform for the train to Venlo that was already waiting. It was easier to get the bike onto this train, a double-decker, but a bit tricky to stow it as there was another bike in the space too. I sat on the trike for a bit until proper seats became available and with half an hour to go to Venlo I had the carriage to myself.

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At Venlo the trike on trains problems really started. To get off the platform into the ticket hall I had to go through a narrow doorway – which required me to turn the trike on its side. Not very easy and I ended up with massive oil marks on my leg.

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When in the ticket hall I struggled to work out what ticket I needed. I gave up and went to the information desk. The woman at the desk told me she couldn’t sell me a ticket to Köln, only to Mönchengladbach, but that there was a Deutsche Bahn ticket machine in the central area. Indeed there was, so I went to have a chat with it. Despite having an option for English it steadfastly insisted on speaking German; fortunately this isn’t too bad as my German is notably ahead of my Dutch.

There wasn’t an option of a ticket to Köln but there was a direct train to Düsseldorf and as time was marching on (and the trains are only once an hour) I went for that one and also bought my bike ticket. I had to lift my bike through the narrow doors again and a station employee then took me across the tracks at the end of the platform so that I didn’t have to go up and down stairs. Hurrah!

The Deutsche Bahn train was already there and the conductor took one look at my trike and led me to the front carriage which he said was larger. He proceeded to disconnect the hand-grip pole between the train doors so that I could get the trike on – just. He said he’d come back and let me off at Düsseldorf when I explained that was where I was going.

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When the train stopped at Mönchengladbach I could see across the platform the Köln-Koblenz train that I had initially planned to get. It had lovely wide doors with no inconvenient poles – but I didn’t have a ticket for it and the conductor wasn’t coming to let me out anyway so I watched it pull away, thinking it would have been nice to get it. How right I was!

When I got to Düsseldorf at about 12:30pm I was released from the train and had to drag the trike down a flight of steps off the platform. I had a bread roll for lunch and then set off towards the Rhine to start my journey southwards.

The next few hours are a bit of a hazy memory. Despite my guidebook and the fact that there was a river to follow, I kept getting lost. The cycle route signs were a bit sporadic and sometimes just seemed to disappear. I had to ask directions regularly (and no-one seemed to know which way to go) and ended up at one point on a film set! There were some heavy rainclouds creeping closer and I was very thirsty, my warm water having run out and the ubiquitous German cafes magically having disappeared. When I found a drinks shop in Dormagen I drank 750mls water straight away!

I rolled into Köln at six during a huge lightning storm (it always rains in Köln at 5pm), feeling pretty despondent as I was wet and had nowhere yet to stay. I asked in several hotels for their room prices but they were all 65€ and up, with no secure bike storage. In the end, after 15 minutes at the tourist information centre,they thought the Youth Hostel in Deutz (across the river from the Cathedral) would suit, although I’d have to share a room. They phoned them up (at my request) and discovered there is a bike cellar for safe bike storage. Hurrah. Oh, and the shared room would be just 25€.

I cycled there, getting lost again (despite being fairly familiar with Köln, just not on a bike) and lo and behold the Youth Hostel was really good. Even better, they had a single room available for 42€ which I went for. There was an excellent bike storage cellar and the room was very decent with en-suite. I showered in my clothes (feels very weird!) to wash them and hung them to dry on my heath robinson washing line before sampling the 5,20€ evening meal of rice and mysterious meatballs. They gave me extra rice at my request. By 8:30pm I was back in my room and could have fallen asleep but I had to spend some time cleaning the melted chocolate off the plastic bag lining my panniers (it looked like an accident with a dog poop bag so I cut a bit of the liner out, there was an excess fortunately) and then ate the salvageable chocolate for dessert. I turned the lights off and went to bed at 9pm, really tired and fairly disheartened about the whole thing.

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