Category Archives: Ruhrtal Tour 2015

From Winterberg to Duisburg

Ruhrtal Tour – Day 4: Hattingen to Kempen

Wednesday 9 September 2015

So this was the last day of the tour – James and I had cycled further each day than we originally estimated so it looked as though we would be back in my Wohnung this evening.

We went down to breakfast which was very pleasant but the view outside wasn’t exactly the sunshine we had been expecting.

Alfie and James’s Aravis Bike had enjoyed their night in the bike shed, nestled up close to an Ice Cream freezer. A few more bikes had arrived overnight so there were a couple of extra guests it seemed, but the hotel was pretty quiet.

I mentioned on Day 1 that a bolt on Alfie’s rack sheared and we fixed it as best we could with cable ties. Here you can see the problem – the right hand side pannier is much closer to the axle than the left.

  

In fact it is so close that I have a feeling it might bang against the axle when going over bumps – this is sub-optimal so I’ll have to expedite a fix.

Fortunately I usually use my Sidepods which don’t sit on the rack rather than the panniers which are just for touring or shopping.

Anyway, here is our route for today which ended up as 96.69km at an average of 15.8km/h.

Wednesday map

We have been remarkably consistent (and slow!) in our average speeds for the three full days of this tour – 15.4 on Monday, 15.6 on Tuesday and 15.8 today. I guess if we had extended another day we might have made 16km/h!

Anyway, we were all checked out and underway by 9:15am, retracing our journey over the bridge to the north side of the Ruhr and riding along the river. We were on a path called Leinpfad which I believe was previously a towpath for horses when barges were pulled along the river by horses.

We crossed the river again after a couple of kilometres and this was the view from the bridge – we had to ride through the cow field.

Here is James’s bike which has been very reliable and comfortable for him.

Yesterday we saw some hydroelectric projects on the river and there were many more today too, also various other water features such as this weir.

 

Despite the fact that I suppose technically we were in the Ruhrgebiet where it is known for being industrial, the view along the river was almost always rather lovely.

James and I found the various warning signs along the river very amusing. I like the chap’s mouth in this one:

The river was at times quite fast-flowing and other times very placid. It also had some much shallower sections.

I decided I ought to dip my toe in the water (I had already put my hand in).

 

James decided to take his bike for a swim.

I decided Alfie’s wheels needed a wash too.

 

Today’s route had generally very good path quality but there were a few exceptions – this one nearly rattled half of my teeth out!

I think that parts of this route were an old railway as this bridge seemed oversized for pedestrians and bikes.

We were technically in the Essen region here (although quite a way from Essen’s centre) and there were just a couple of visual reminders of the industrial past.

 

Just past the rather nicely-named Kupferdreh we found that the river had widened considerably into a lake called the Baldeneysee. This was absolutely beautiful – and the path around it was also brilliant so is definitely a section I’d like to ride again!

 

Unsurprisingly there was also a hydro plant.

We’d covered nearly 40km so it was definitely time for a cake so we stopped in the town of Werden and my bakery-radar worked as effectively as usual and we found somewhere.

  

What was a bit peculiar here was that I had to work a bit hard to get my Teewasser (hot water for tea). This is because they said I couldn’t buy just the tea water, I had to also have their teabag. I was worried they’d put it in the water so said I didn’t need it, I knew I would have to pay, but I wanted to use my own teabag. After some mumbling and grumbling they let me have just the tea water (and charged me the full tea price).

After our stop in Werden we had a nice fast section on good quality track. James had looked at the Bikeline book and noticed that where the route crossed the river at Kettwig the track then became on-road and with bad quality surfaces (indicated by a dashed red line on the map) but there seemed to be an alternative route on the north side of the Ruhr that was solid line (better quality). So we decided to do this instead and not cross over at Kettwig.

This turned out to be an excellent choice as the route was the whole time alongside the river with good views and not too many other cyclists (we had noticed the general route being much busier today – we had seen very few other cycle tourists before today).

We cycled under the impressive A52 motorway bridge.

  

We were now approaching Mülheim an der Ruhr (which I have cycled to before from home) and, once again, the Ruhr river seemed very un-industrial and instead scenic.

The route didn’t actually take us through Mülheim as we stayed on the left hand side of the river (west, in this case), and it took an interesting route through parks and on some elevated bridges. We stopped briefly to look at Schloss Broich.

And after this went through a park with various water features which was rather lovely, although there did seem to be more graffiti around than you normally see.

Here we are looking back at Mülheim from a bridge.

This was a good quality bridge again ‘just’ for cyclists and pedestrians.

Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians

We also passed this water tower which is now an aquarium. That lift looks incredibly complicated!

It was three o’clock so time for some more food so we popped into a bakery attached to a small shopping centre just outside Mühlheim.

 

Amazingly I had to have the same argument about using my own teabag (“it’s not allowed. You aren’t allowed to bring your own food here.”) When I protested she said “it’s the rules from the boss” and other such comments. But once again I was firm and said I just wanted hot water, would pay the full cost of the tea, and she backed down. But twice in one day!!!

What was also interesting was that there was no public toilet although this was a sit-down café. I believe that this is against the law (as it is in England), in that you have to provide a loo if you provide seating with food service. But I just crossed my legs for the rest of the ride.

James and I both commented that we had probably seen more industrial views when riding on the river Main or Rhine than the supposedly-industrial Ruhr. But as we approached Duisburg we finally found some of what I thought we’d see much more of…

This was the view about 2km from the mouth of the Ruhr where it joins the Rhine.

And this was the final time that we crossed the Ruhr on our tour – I reckon we’ve done at least 30 crossings this trip.

And here is where the Ruhr meets the Rhein.

James cycled right down to the point of the confluence (I didn’t as it was too off-road).

IMG_0108

IMG_0113

IMG_0112

And there was one of the Rhein kilometre markers too – we had seen smaller versions of these on the Ruhr today but hadn’t noticed them on previous days.

IMG_0110

We waved goodbye to the Ruhr, crossed the Rhine and then had a 25km ride home through Moers. It wasn’t a particularly scenic route, it was direct and fast, and I was pleased to be heading home as my knees were hurting a bit. These routes have lots of very short, sharp climbs to go over bridges and round obstacles and I have used my Granny Ring (and indeed my first gear) more on this tour than in the last two years put together, I think.

Anyway, we had a great time. We cycled 285.99km and took over 25 hours to do it! I burned 6,610 calories over the four days so you can decide whether my cake consumption was offset.

I thought I had forgotten my battery charger for my NiMhs for my Garmin so had to buy some AA batteries in Aldi; when sorting out my bike tools this morning I spotted the charger at the bottom of the pannier. But neither of us needed any tools except cable ties for my broken rack and both bikes performed very well indeed. Alfie is indeed an excellent touring machine although is hard work on the hillier tours such as this one. It might help if I had slightly less luggage and slightly less personal lard.

We both carried iPads with us and these are surprisingly heavy. They both survived the journey well – but I dropped mine getting out of the car on the way back from choir and cracked the glass on the front. Rather ironic considering it was bumped around in panniers for four days on the trike, over cobbles and railway lines, and with a dodgy rack which meant it could bash against the axle. But it took a trip to the supermarket to buy some milk to cause damage. Not too bad, fortunately, so it lives to fight another day – and hopefully to do another tour sometime soon!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the trip. I can very much recommend this as a route, as long as you don’t mind hills on the first day. The Ruhr may be seen as the industrial heartland but it is also beautiful, scenic and friendly (as long as you don’t need to use your own teabags).

5 Comments

Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Ruhrtal Tour 2015

Ruhrtal Tour – Day 3: Arnsberg to Hattingen

Tuesday 8 September 2015

This was our track for today’s ride.

The forecast today was a bit of drizzle at 11am and after that sunshine. Sadly the forecast was mistaken and we had drizzle and cloudy skies all day – didn’t really see the sun at all! But that is getting ahead of this report… first of all breakfast!

James is looking a bit bleary today as he twisted his back a bit yesterday sitting wonkily on the bed and had to do quite a lot of stretching and have a hot shower this morning to try to loosen up a bit.

We paid the hotel and were underway by 9:30am. James had packed his panniers carefully so that they were equal weights as he’d been struggling a bit to push the bike when it was loaded; despite this it was still a bit awkward and he was being careful of his back. The rack pack he had was a bit of weight higher up which perhaps didn’t help but was useful for storing all the valuables in so he could take it easily off the bike.

We headed first to the bank in Arnsberg for me to get some cash out. Some workmen standing near the bank were saying to each other “that bike has an electric motor” so I was pleased to tell them otherwise. Just leg muscle power for me!

We headed out of Arnsberg past this interesting sculpture.

Fairly soon we arrived at what was a very steep wooden bridge. I got halfway up the slope and then slipped backwards down again – clearly I’d have to walk it. This was tricky with cleats on as the wet wood was very, very slippery.

Here is the view down the way we came. James had also walked up and also struggled with slippery cleats on shoes.

Because of a sharp bend at the bottom of the bridge on the day down James descended VERY carefully. I went a bit faster but was being wary of my brakes as I rather wore them out on yesterday’s fast, wet, muddy descents. I need to fit some more brake pads when I get home.

Here is the view looking back at Arnsberg. Our hotel was next to that big tower.

Quite a lot of today’s route was in rather lovely riverside woodland areas, although these often had Schotter/loose gravel rather than asphalt, as here.

At Hüsten (part of Arnsberg) we discovered some Roman-style ruins. They were actually rather new-looking and I think part of some children’s group project from a few years before (there were four concrete paving slabs with children’s names etched in).

We stopped for five minutes for James to refine his pannier packing in the hopes that his bike would be a bit easier to manoeuvre when wheeling it.

Despite the weather forecast, as mentioned above, the reality was dark clouds and occasional drizzle or rain. James kept putting his waterproof trousers on and then removing them again 15 minutes later when it dried out again.

We had stopped at this station on the train on the way to Winterberg – I love its name!

We were starting to feel peckish so decided to stop for tea and cake at Fröndenberg. We found a café with nice pastries.

Fröndenberg was a rather lovely little town but we had 100km to do today and were only at 38km so needed to press on.

We made good progress after this point (fortified by cake?) and zoomed along a section which was easy to follow and generally good quality road surfaces.

Just after Dellwig we stopped for this sign – it’s the halfway point of the Ruhrtal Radweg.

We had a very long fast section through fields with occasional crossings of the Ruhr which was now getting much wider and seemed quite still at times.

We passed round the outside of Schwerte, a fairly large town. After that we had a diversion which we knew about (it was on the Ruhrtal Radweg website that I had seen last week). The diversion has been in place for a few years as it is also marked in our book – something to do with a collapsing cliff I believe.

Anyway, the diversion involved riding on two rather busy roads, the L637 and then the L675, which wasn’t particularly nice. We then passed through the industrial estate near Hagen at a place called Bathey, not very scenic for a few kilometres but we were soon back at the river and things looked nicer again.

At this point the Ruhr has considerably widened into a lake rather than a river – the Hengsteysee. Built into the hillside is the Speicherkraftwerk Koepchenwerk, a huge pumped hydroelectric plant.

Here is Alfie posing in front.

A little way around the corner near Herdecke we crossed the river again, this time on a bridge which also had railway tracks.

There was a sensible warning for cyclists – although I don’t think I can go over the handlebars like that on Alfie!

  

It was 3:30 and we were feeling peckish so stopped at the first place we could find – a random Biergarten which served Bratwurst and Baguette

And Frikadelle and baguette

I have to say I was expecting more than two pieces of Baguette – I was expecting a whole one!

James had a Radler but didn’t finish it so tipped it into his bidon (which still had the remains of a berry electrolyte drink). Apparently it tasted OK!

At Herdecke there was this wonderful viaduct.

This is the view towards Wetter from Herdecke – we had a long ride around the Harkortsee (which is the wide bit of the Ruhr river) enjoying the view and the smooth surface.

We had another 25km to go and time was marching on a bit so we put the pedal to the metal and covered the ground well, although my right knee (which occasionally complains) was giving me a few twinges. So I kept going steadily and didn’t over-exert myself on the uphills.

Near Vormholz we had a ferry crossing with a brand new electric-powered ferry which just had a tin for donations (we put 2 Euros in).

We passed a wonderful nature and wellness area (with a swimming pool with lots of flumes etc) which included smooth cycle paths as well as paths for inline roller skating. We passed a lady on an eletric Kettwiesel trike too – and passed her again after we stopped for this photo.

I nearly made it to Gibraltar!

We were now riding along the Kemnader See and once again h ad some lovely views. At Stiepel the river narrowed again and we saw lots of people out canoeing.

There were still a few challenges on the route, such as these gates (to keep cows in two connecting fields).

At our food stop I had phoned one of the hotels we’d researched last night to book a room – it was on the outskirts of Hattingen and looked good. As we crossed the road bridge into Hattingen we had a good view over the maize fields into the distance. The hills of the Sauerland have now gone and we just saw lower, rolling hills.

And we also got a good view of our hotel – An Der Kost.

We checked in with a very friendly proprietor and he showed us to our room, decorated in heavy red colours but with an excellent shower (with jets for your back and waist and hips – great for James’s back).

An Der Kost is in the middle of nowhere so we ate in the restaurant after our showers – we seemed to be the only guests here.

We had ridden 101.5km at an average speed of 15km/h which wasn’t bad with our heavy packs. Tomorrow we have just ninety kilometres back to Kempen but will be riding through lots of the very interesting industrial culture of the Ruhrgebiet. And the forecast is sunshine all day, so fingers crossed!!!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Ruhrtal Tour 2015

Ruhrtal Tour – Day 2: Winterberg to Arnsberg

Monday 7 September 2015

After a good night’s sleep we woke up to a rather rainy view. 

The breakfast was good and we were on our way by 9:30am, dressed in our waterproofs. Well, James had normal trousers on but I had gone full waterproofs due to the forecast of a day of rain.

The forecast was correct – we had rain or drizzle for probably 75% or so of the day, but it didn’t matter as we had a very good day’s riding, 70km in total. Here is our track for the day.

 
German chum Olaf had warned me that the beginning of this ride wasn’t very recumbent-friendly. I wasn’t sure if this was because it was hilly (which it was) or if it was because it was off-road (which it was), but we decided we had to really ride the entire Ruhr route so had to find our way to the source… which was up a hill.

  
This involved some exciting off-road, both ups and downs. The ups were VERY slow for me, the downs sometimes scarily fast. But we made it to the source and here we are.
   

 This tiny channel, about 30cm wide, contains the river Ruhr. We dropped a stick in it to try for Pooh Sticks – perhaps we will find the stick at Duisburg in a few days time.
 And just a few metres on the Ruhr crosses the cycle path and so we both forded it. Remaining dry (apart from the rain).
   

 The rain was steady most of the time with occasional extra rainy moments. We were both getting a bit damp despite the waterproofs and there was a lot of muck thrown up onto our bikes despite the mudguards. I have to mention here that James had made some extra-long mudguard flaps (out of a bit of the plastic packaging that my venetian blinds came in) and they worked really well at reducing the water that flicked onto his shoes from his front wheel.

This bit of the route was quite steep downhill which was interesting for James with rim brakes in the wet. I pulled ahead on the downhills, he was always way ahead on the uphills, so for this section we weren’t generally riding together as it was pretty much always either up or down.

As we passed a mill on the way into Niedersfeld I spotted some tail fins of aeroplanes visible over a fence. We went for a closer look – it was an exhibition of soviet-era planes that you could pay 1€ to visit (going through a turnstile). Of course we only had 2€ coins so paid double but decided it would make an interesting break in our ride.

   
    
    
    

I was amused by this misspelling!

After half an hour or so looking around the aeroplanes (which were rusting away quietly but still interesting for all that – the Russian and Czech planes looked remarkably agricultural!) we continued on in the drizzle.

We caught regular glimpses of the Ruhr which was rapidly getting bigger. We also crossed it regularly on a series of different little bridges. There were lots of sharp downhills as well as uphills. The uphills reminded me of why I love living in the Niederrhein area – it’s flat! I am SLOW up hills, particularly with luggage and in the rain.

Some of the downhills were surprisingly steep!

 

This one, into Assinghausen, was great fun – I reached 52.17km/h but had to use the brakes as I approached the town. Going at that speed and then braking a heavy trike with heavy rider meant that there was a very strong eau-de-disc-brake-pad wafting around for the next few kilometres.

After Assinghausen we went through Wulmeringshausen and then had to cross the railway at a level crossing on the way into Olsberg and it was a bit of a challenge!

There were more ups and downs after Olsberg and Bigge. We passed a town that James originally read on the map as ‘Nutter’ but disappointingly it was actually Nuttlar. Eventually we arrived in Bestwig where several tributaries join the Ruhr. We went over the bridge and had a nice view down to a church.

After Bestwig we rode past Velmede and then arrived at a section on the map which had a chevron in bold type – we soon realised why! It was so steep that James had to walk up and I was in first gear (out of my choice of 33).

At the top we were rewarded with some views over Sauerland.

The scenery was very reminiscent of when I rode the Sauerlandradring last year. Although we hadn’t ridden as far north that time the climbs and descents were familiar!

There was some interesting writing on the path on the way into Meschede but I couldn’t read it well enough to make sense of it.

At Meschede we stopped for lunch. It was pouring as we got into the town centre so we were dripping wet when we walked into the bakery. We were restored by a baguette, hot drinks and a shared cake.

We stopped for about an hour in Meschede. This had originally been a possible overnight town if the previous riding had been too hard but we felt able to continue the 25km to Arnsberg as it was only two in the afternoon.

After Meschede we had some rather off-road sections.

There were also a few slight amendments to the route as displayed in our Bikeline book and on the GPS track that I had downloaded from the official Ruhrtal Radweg website. There was decent signage generally, including this one that I had to pose beside.

As we rode through Freienohl I spotted this rather unusual decoration on this building – a boat!

The boat had the marks where a label had been removed – Dehler. We realised pretty quickly that this must have been the factory for these yachts – James sails with several people who have Dehlers but the company obviously stopped production here. In the yard beside the factory we saw lots of moulds just lying outside getting ruined. Hanse now own Dehler and have their factory in Griefswald on the Baltic.

We were amused by this sign – is it to warn you of sea monsters? Or not to fly a spinnaker-sized kite?

In Oeventrop we passed a huge glider centre and there was also some kind of artwork thing going on in the village with decorated wooden chairs hanging on fence posts – here are just a few of them.

We arrived in Arnsberg in yet another rainstorm, having waited for 10 minutes under a tree in the hope that it would subside but got bored and rode on eventually.

We hadn’t pre-booked a hotel but had researched a little bit last night and headed for Altes Backhaus which turned out to be in the pedestrian zone up a VERY steep cobbled road which James had to walk up and I did lots of wheel spinning on the way up.

Here is the rather attractive hotel.

After hanging up our wet things to dry (the room now looks like a bomb has gone off) we went for a meal in the hotel which was very pleasant.

Our plan for tomorrow is to ride to Hattingen which is near Essen and almost exactly 100km away. The weather looks to be a bit better which is a relief – just a small amount of drizzle around midday. It will be nice to cycle without a waterproof jacket on!

1 Comment

Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Ruhrtal Tour 2015, Six Wheels In Germany

Ruhrtal Tour – Day 1: Journey to Winterberg

Sunday 6 September 2015

It’s a long time since the SPEZI Tour, which finished on 1st May, and as James planned to visit me for a couple of weeks we thought it would be nice to do a short tour together – and the Ruhr valley seemed like a good option as the Ruhr flows into the Rhine just 30km from my Wohnung.

The source of the Ruhr River is near Winterberg so we decided to get the train to Winterberg and ride back.

The summer has been pretty hot in Germany but the forecast, as the holiday approached, looked considerably more autumnal. In fact as this morning dawned the maximum forecast temperature for Winterberg was 9 degrees. That’s chilly, when we had 31 degrees last Sunday! So James and I packed our colder weather gear and set off to ride the 14km to Krefeld from where we would catch the train.

Here’s James and his bike and Alfie as we are about to set off.

And this was our route to Krefeld main station.

We arrived in plenty of time but I needed plenty of time to fight with the Ticket Machine which is remarkably slow and objected to one of my debit cards (fortunately the other worked).

As you can see, the bikes are much cheaper than the humans!

We also then discovered that the lift at Krefeld Station is too short for Alfie so I had to carry him up the stairs to the platform.

The train arrived and we found the bicycle area. There was a chap sitting on one of the folding seats in the bike area and he didn’t move when I clearly needed to put Alfie there (no room elsewhere) so in the end I asked him fairly firmly to move – and he did.

We needed to change trains once on this journey, at Dortmund, and had 45 minutes between the trains. Our train was a bit delayed so the 50 minute journey ended up about an hour and five minutes. When we got to Dortmund we discovered there were no lifts, only an escalator, so once again I had to carry Alfie down the stairs from the platform and then back up again to the new platform. But I am used to this and it was OK.

The train from Dortmund to Winterberg was a little diesel one which was full by the time the train left. I had had to put Alfie on his side to squeeze him into the bike area but once he was in place it was fine and I sat on a chair and watched the world go by.

Winterberg is in the Sauerland which is a series of mountains/hills. Kempen is about 23 metres above sea level but Winterberg is 630ish and we noticed the train was steadily climbing, alongside the Ruhr river a lot of the time. We caught occasional glimpses of the cycle path.

We arrived at Winterberg at 3:15 and stepped out of the train into a cold and drizzly environment. We headed off to find our hotel which we overshot initially – this is the track to the hotel.

It is worth noting that this section of the ride was almost entirely uphill so very slow (we averaged 10 km/h and it was me keeping us to that slow speed, James can ride uphill much faster).

 

The Hotel was very nice – we were the only guests and had a comfortable room with a huge bathroom. They also provided us with teapots for our tea.

The wifi was rather flaky though which meant I had a lot of issues trying to add photos to this blog so there are far fewer than normal (this is because the WordPress App doesn’t work on my phone so I have to wait for the photos I take to arrive on the iPad through Photostream before I can add them – and it was being very finicky).

Anyway, here is the view from our balcony…

As you can see, Winterberg is a winter sports area with ski slopes and more. In summer it is a mountain biking and walking place. At this time of year it was very quiet and felt autumnal!

I have allowed myself one luxury on this tour – as we’ll probably only be away for four nights I have packed enough clothes that I only have to wash one pair of cycling trousers during the whole trip! What luxury to be able to shower without then having to wash your clothes. James is less fortunate as he came to Germany by bike so couldn’t bring that much luggage… so he’s still doing the clothes washing chore.

We decided to go for a short walk to have a closer look at the Bob Bahn (bobsleigh track) which had been the venue for the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships earlier this year…

We didn’t explore too much as it was perishingly cold. We retreated to a restaurant for food.

I had a Currywurst as you can see above. This is traditional food in Essen which we went past on the train today, so I’ve had it a bit early. But it was tasty!

We walked back and enjoyed the scenery despite the cold!

Unfortunately we had noticed whilst on the train that part of Alfie’s rack had broken – a bolt had sheared on one of the rack supports.

Part of the bolt was still in the rack metalwork.

 

This was on the side that had the heavier pannier and I surmise that the ride through Krefeld, which has lots of bumpy tree roots across the Radweg, might have caused this problem.

So anyway it was time to try to repair it. It looked like an ideal candidate for a Cable Tie Repair…

Hopefully the cable tie will hold until I get home again when I’ll have to hope that Frank can drill out the old screw and we can molish something else.

Tomorrow the plan is to ride (in the rain) to Arnsberg which is about 70km away. The first couple of kilometres will be uphill to the Ruhrquelle (the source of the Ruhr) and some of it is rather off-road so it might be hard work, but after about 20km it’s pretty much all downhill for the rest of the ride. Phew! The weather seems to be looking better from Tuesday onwards which is also good.

Our rides today were as follows:

Home to Krefeld: 14.46km at 17.52km/h.
Winterberg railway station to hotel: 3.17km at 10.07km/h

1 Comment

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Ruhrtal Tour 2015, Six Wheels In Germany