Category Archives: SPEZI Rhine Tour 2015

SPEZI 2 – Düsseldorf-Zons to Bad Breisig

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Zons to Bad Breisig map

The weather forecast for today was fab – 20 degrees and sunny all day. This turned out to be correct so we had perfect cycling conditions, although I (along with others) had to slap on a lot of sun cream as we are not yet used to this weather!

We met downstairs at breakfast to a very good spread – here are my fellow travellers (except for Nigel who was at the campsite). None of them look like morning people!

We rode south with the Rhine to our right, enjoying the blue skies and the decent cycle route along the Deich (dyke).

The plan was to stop in Köln (Cologne)for some food. First of all we had the long and rather unscenic ride around the Ford factory – it’s a huge plant.

But eventually we saw Cologne Cathedral in the distance.

Although our track had us riding straight past we thought we really ought to head up and see the Cathedral so we negotiated the chicanes that you have to take to get up to the height of the cathedral. We stopped to peer over the side into the area where the stonemasons do their renovation – very impressive stuff!

Joyce thought she might like to look inside the cathedral so we stopped outside, providing plenty of photographic opportunities for tourists.

A service was just starting so Joyce was unable to go inside so we carried on, this time in search of cake, once again taking the chicanes down past the Philharmonie. We found the little square where I had previously had an ice cream with Anja and Lars and parked our bikes there.

The place advertised Mutti’s Apfelkuchen so we thought we’d give that a go – wow!!!

After a most tasty Kuchen and cuppa we continued on towards Bonn with the idea to stop for food at Bonn.

It doesn’t take too long to get out of Köln to the south and then we were once again on the attractive Deich cycle path with plenty of great views of the river. We also saw this rescue helicopter taking off.

The rotor wash blew my baseball cap off but fortunately Klaus, who was riding behind me, was able to scoop it up. He had earlier collected Joyce’s cap when it blew off so he’s quite adept at hat-rescuing.

The original idea was to eat at Bonn but time was marching on and some of us (i.e. me) were hungry so we stopped at Wesseling where we had some great food (albeit rather slow service).

Every kilometre along the Rhine there is a large sign with the kilometre distance from the source (as well as every tenth in between). Here are Joyce, Simon and me posing at one of them.

The route today was a long one and although we had sped up considerably after our lunch some of us felt that an ice cream was in order with 25km to go so we stopped at a Biergarten in Plittersdorf and I had this rather fine icce cream.

After the ice cream Joyce and Klaus seemed turbocharged and whizzed again with the rest of us unable to catch them until they slowed down. Time was marching on and we’d phoned the B&B we were all booked into to discover that we were the only guests and that the B&B owner would be out for dinner with friends but she had left a key for us in a key safe behind the building.

It took us a little while to find Villa zur Erholung in Bad Breisig as it had no advertising outside, it just looked like a grand house which was slightly run down. We found the key safe OK, let ourselves in but couldn’t find any note of which were our rooms.

It turned out that all the rooms were open with keys in the doors and apparently we were to choose our own.

This took quite some choosing as they were all very individual and eccentric.

There was a room with a bed in the middle of the room (you could walk all the way round it).

The room that I eventually chose (as I decided it would have been the more expensive one – I had paid extra for a river view) had the unusual feature in that you had to walk through the bathroom to get to the bedroom.

The bathroom had slightly unusual features such as the radiator high up on the wall.

Beside the shower were some deck chairs (to remind me of recumbent triking?)

There was also an enormous wardrobe with a colossal key.

Other features of this amazing B&B and its rooms were a wall hanging of various extracted teeth (a historical dental chart); a toilet that was inside what looked like a cupboard and which had an optician’s Letter chart on the wall; light switches and sockets that were above shoulder height for me; the floor of one of the showers tiled with real pebbles… and loads more. The whole place was incredibly eclectic – I was any minute expecting Colonel Mustard to turn up dead in the walk-through bathroom with the candlestick. As we were on our own we had a good look round before deciding finally on our rooms.

It was now pretty late (8:30pm) and we didn’t know the wifi password so I couldn’t write my blog. Instead we went out for pizza.

Overall it was a wonderful day if quite long. 100.3km at an average speed of 14.6km/h means we were riding for 6 hours 52 minutes. Nigel’s knees were giving him a few twinges and I have somehow pulled a muscle in my shoulder which complains if I keep it immobile for a while and then move it (and it is immobile on the trike), but when you have a sunny day and a fun adventure who cares!!!


Filed under Cycling in Germany, SPEZI Rhine Tour 2015

SPEZI 1 – Kempen to Düsseldorf-Zons

Monday 20 April 2015

20 May Kempen to Zons map

Today was day one of the tour and I woke up shockingly early as I was so excited to be on a bike tour again.

I sorted out the dog, did my final packing, did all the things you need to do to the house when you are leaving it for two weeks (empty the bins etc) and then it was time to go!

So Alfie had the Vaude panniers again (for the first time in ages) which were quite heavy.

I headed off on the short (5km) journey to Kempen and when I arrived at Hotel Papillon, where Simon & Joyce were staying, Nigel was already there, having ridden over from Herongen (near the border with Venlo).

The four of us headed off through Kempen and then south towards Vorst, turning east before Vorst and aiming for our meeting place with Klaus near Neersen.

As we were riding through Forstwald we noticed this unusual signpost!


We arrived at the meeting place and Klaus rolled up on his trike thirty seconds later.

Klaus was introduced to Nigel and then we continued on through Willich.

Just past Willich at the Café Streithof (we didn’t go in, but they do very good cakes!) I needed to change the batteries on my Garmin so we all stopped and I took a photo. Look at that blue sky!

We rode through Meerbusch and then we joined the Rhine dyke for a short while before crossing the river on the motorway bridge at the A44. There was a nice helter-skelter climb to get up to the bridge – here are Nigel, Simon and Joyce winding their way up.

At the top of the bridge we had a good view of the suspension cables.

We cycled through the Alstadt, stopping to eat some lunch at the Goldene Ring restaurant. I had Spargelcremesuppe (Cream of Asparagus) and the others had Gulaschsuppe. We then had an Apple Strudel but I forgot to photograph it – shock horror!

We then headed further south along the riverside to the Mediahafen area which has some great buildings and an interestined bridge. We stopped on the bridge and a chap on an Anthrotech recumbent trike caught us up and was very chatty (to Klaus, in German). We persuaded him to take a photo of us all.

We zoomed down and then continued on the excellent Deich (dyke) cycle path which is wide and smooth.

We saw a young chap cycling and talking on his phone and he passed two Ordnungsamt Offiers (they aren’t police but perhaps a bit more like PCSOs) and they told him to get off the phone.

It was pretty warm now – 19 degrees or so – and so it was time for more suntan cream.

We headed on further, through the Bilk area of Düsseldorf where I lived for a month in 2010. The Brits were all flying Union Jacks – here is Nigel’s (although it is the wrong way round).

The plan was to stay on the right hand side of the Rhine and cross using the ferry to Zons. We had a bit of a ride through some uninteresting ribbon developments south of Düsseldorf but at one point an Englishman waiting with his bike at a bus stop saw us, hopped on the bike and rode with us, chatting with Simon.

We passed a McDonalds and Joyce wanted to use their loo. Klaus and I couldn’t resist a McFlurry each.

It was just another 5km to the ferry to Zons – and it was Klaus’s first opportunity on this tour to dip his toes in the Rhine, his river.

Here we are on the ferry. I travelled on this several times in 2010.

Crossing price was 1,50€ each (this was a ticket for two).

The hotel was apparently, according to the Garmin track, just 800 metres away but we actually overshot it as the Garmin track went a bit further than the hotel. We soon found it, though, and the owners let us in. There was nowhere very secure to park the trikes so we locked them all to each other – moving a block of four trikes would be difficult! Nigel had cycled a few km up the road to a campsite and will meet us here tomorrow morning.

After a shower and writing up this blog it was time to head out for some food.

Zons is a lovely little town with lots of old gates and walls.



We found a pizzeria which did nice food although rather slow service! Still it was good to have a hearty meal after our 73km ride.


Today has been a great first day for the tour with sunshinem no rain and a good route. Tomorrow we head to Bad Breisig, somewhere I have stayed several times before, but may well stop and visit Cologne Cathedral on the way. Weather forecast is for sunshine again (we will need to apply the sun cream!)


Filed under SPEZI Rhine Tour 2015

SPEZI 0 – Venlo to Kempen

19 April 2015

Today was not the official first day of the tour but it was the day that I met Joyce and Simon, two of the other SPEZI tour participants, in Venlo and then rode with them back to Kempen.

Here is my track for the day.

Screen shot 2015-04-19 at 20.37.33

This was a ride of 56.28km in total at a very leisurely 13.8 km/h.

I set off from home at 9:30 as the plan was to meet Simon & Joyce at Venlo Railway Station at 11:00.

As A Brit it’s always a weird feeling to cycle across a country’s border, where there is a change of language and culture, without needing a plane or ferry or tunnel.


I arrived a few minutes early and they were already there so after exchanging pleasantries we set off up the hill back to Germany.

We arrived at Hofcafé Alt Bruch (for our lunch/cake stop) at almost exactly midday and Klaus, Claudia and Lara appeared fifteen or so minutes later.

We had cake of course.

Black Forest Gateau

Joyce and I shared a Nuss Sahne Kuchen

my Half of Sahne Nuss Kuchen

The waffles had looked so good last week that I had to have them as Afters, as did Claudia, Klaus and Lara (who had had soup for their main course).

It’s not often that five recumbent trikes are all together so I got Lara to take a photo of us all.

Ready To Go

Then a passer-by agreed to take a photo of us all including Lara.

Ready To Go with Lara

We headed off along the Bahnradweg back to Kempen. This is such a wonderful route but it was very busy with other cyclists and dog walkers. At one point a lady in an invalid carriage realised she had overshot where she wanted to go and stopped – right between two pillars that are meant to slow you down. I had to brake sharply to stop running into her (could not go round because of the pillars) and poor Lara, on an upright bike, was not able to brake sharply enough and hit the back of Claudia’s trike. It seemed undamaged though – ICE make ’em strong. Lara’s handlebar had whacked her in the stomach though so she felt a bit under par.

We said goodbye to Klaus, Claudia and Lara in Grefrath and they headed home. We will meet Klaus in Neersen tomorrow morning as we start the tour.

It was good to show Simon and Joyce some of the good cycle routes in the Niederrhein and we were soon in Kempen. They dropped off the bulk of their luggage at their hotel and then came back to my house for some tea and trike fettling.

After that it was time to head back to Kempen. This time I took Penelope and Simon had a go.

Velomobile in the distance

And here he is really disappearing off into the distance in true Velomobile style!

Disappearing velomobile

In St Hubert we bumped into Hartmut – who then popped in to see us in the restaurant a bit later (I told him where we were going). We had a very good Turkish meal and then I dropped Simon and Joyce back off at their hotel and headed home for last-minute preparations.

Simon, Joyce, Nigel (the fifth member of our little group) and I will meet in Kempen at 9am and head off to Neersen to meet Klaus, from where we will ride to Zons (south of Düsseldorf) as the start of our tour to SPEZI.

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Filed under Cycling in Germany, SPEZI Rhine Tour 2015