Klaus and I both agreed that we like doing short bike tours as well as the long ones – three days gives you a real chance to travel further and do some exploring, but you only have to take one day off work.
So we had a look at our diaries and decided that the weekend in the middle of August would be suitable for a tour. Klaus put together a route for us, 350km over three days, and we made arrangements.
The tour was to be in Münsterland which is east of where we live, with rolling hills. We had ridden a little in Münsterland a few years ago, but this would be a chance to explore a bit more. Klaus also managed to route our track past lots of different castles, so we decided to call it a Schlössertour (Castle Tour).
This was the planned route for the entire trip:
We were both able to get the Monday off so our tour would be from Saturday to Monday.
Packing for our tours now takes just a few minutes – this is because what you need for a 3 day tour and what you need for a 2 week tour is mostly the same – 3 sets of cycling clothing, 1 set of normal clothing, shoes, wash kit, gadget chargers, iPad. Tools and waterproofs are usually already in the velomobile.
I had split the days up into three similar length days, with just the first day a bit shorter (this was due to a rather meagre choice of hotels).
Day 1: Kempen to Gescher
So on Saturday morning we set off in a leisurely manner after 10:30am, heading to Gescher.
The weather forecast was a bit unfortunate for the tour, with the first two days pretty rainy. Thus we started late, as it was forecasted to dry up as the day wore on. But we didn’t want to leave it too late!
The first fifteen minutes or so were in drizzle but it wasn’t too bad. We were cycling to Rees am Rhein which is a 55km route which we know really well. We also knew that food opportunities weren’t great after Rees, and our route actually bypassed Rees rather than going into the town, so I suggested we tried the café we have ridden past quite often on our way past Uedem – it’s Hochwald-Spargel but they have signs for a café too; we don’t usually stop there as we have already stopped at Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk, but for a 115km ride Winnekendonk was a bit too soon for a cake stop, at 31km. The one to the east of Uedem would be at 40km and Google thought it would be open, so we decided to give it a go!
So we pootled along in the drizzle but it soon dried up and although the roads were still a bit wet it was fine for us. It was a fairly cool day, maybe 17 degrees, and I was feeling the chill a little from my wet cycling jersey. I hadn’t thought to bring my motorbike neckwarmer and that turned out to be a bit of a mistake on this tour!
In due course we arrived at Hochwald-Spargel and the Hufschen Henn Hofcafé. There was just one other group of people there but it was open and they had a selection of cakes which all looked pretty good.
The people were very friendly and as we sat eating our cake they brought out several new cakes which had been freshly-prepared in house. They all looked good!
We also saw the food that was brought to the other table for those having lunch and it looked really nice. So this café was definitely another good find!
As we left the café the rain started, and it stayed with us for quite a bit of the rest of our journey.
However, we are made of tough stuff and battled through!
Our castles started fairly early in the trip – just after Rees we passed Haus Empel. We couldn’t see it very well through the trees (we were riding fast on the B67) but it looks like this:
It was the first of many “Wasserschlösser” or castles with a moat that we saw over the next three days.
Just a few kilometres further on we passed Wasserburg Anholt which is another impressively-moated castle.
We rode along the border with NL but staying on the German side, past some places with excellent names: Dinxperlo and Spork.
At 86km cycled we crossed into the Netherlands, but there was almost nothing to see – no border post, no change in landscape – the only difference is the road markings and road signs are a bit different.
This section of ride was rather nice as it was through woodland. The 2km of road surface which was brick paved rather than asphalt was a bit annoying, but otherwise we enjoyed our brief foray into NL, crossing back into Germany 12km later at Oeding.
Oeding looked familiar, and indeed it was – I had stayed there on my Berlin to London ride. There was rather more traffic than we had seen so far on our ride, and we were restricted to a cycle path which was mostly OK but had its moments, but we headed east on the B525 between Südlohn and Weseke, eventually turning off to take a back way into Gescher. Riding along Bundesstraßen can be quick but isn’t always very scenic!
We arrived at our hotel and went to check in. I reminded them that they had offered us a room to store the velomobiles, but the chap said “but we have a wedding today! No space at all!” This was rather bad news as a wedding meant lots of people wandering about and if the velomobiles had to overnight out in the open where lots of people were carousing this was not great. The chap then offered some space in a carport (which was at least covered to keep the rain off) but this was, too, open to passers-by. In the end he said that in a couple of hours there would be a storage room inside the hotel free and we could put the bikes in there, but would have to get them out by 9:30am the following morning. That would be no problem, so we said we’d go for that.
We had our showers and then I decided to go for a walk to buy a few supplies to nibble on (we hadn’t bought any nuts with us). As I was walking past reception the man who had booked us in said that he had an alternative option, and what turned out to be the owner of the hotel handed me a remote lock for his garage; this was in his private house, opposite the hotel. It was very kind of him, and we were pleased to take up the offer – Millie and Emily were safely ensconced in the garage where they dripped gently onto the floor as they had taken on a fair bit of water today, although it was mostly just a fine drizzle or mist.
We ate in the restaurant at the hotel and it was very good food with efficient service. We also had some entertainment – not the wedding, there was also a Schützenfest going on which involved lots of young chaps walking around in uniforms carrying rifles and a brass band playing VERY loudly outside our bedroom window. During our meal a chap arrived with a squeeze-box and played some tunes very well, with lots of the restaurant patrons singing along.
This kind of thing happens in Germany!
We didn’t get a great night’s sleep because of the Schützenfest which seemed to involve lots of drumming and very loud brass band music. And to cap it all off, at 6am on the dot we had two marching band songs – and then silence again! Needless to say we were awake at that point.
Day 2: Gescher to Selm.
Early this morning Klaus received a message from a Velomobilforum member who saw that we were cycling in his part of the world and offered for us to pop in and see him to dry off from the rain. This was because the forecast for the day was 13mm rain, pretty much non-stop. Anyway, we said yes, and adjusted our planned track accordingly (we would go closer to Münster as that is where Otfried lives).
We had breakfast in the hotel and then noticed on the rain radar a band of dry weather between two huge rainclouds. Sure enough, the rain paused… and we thought it would be a good plan to get cycling during that break. We extracted the velomobiles, returned the garage remote control, paid the bill and then with the audience of most of those breakfasting (not the wedding party, I guess they were still hung over – this was a lot of pensioners!) we set off. Just as the heavy rain began to fall again!!
At times the rain was pretty heavy and it meant that we were both getting quite wet. Klaus periodically put on the Schaumdeckel but this then meant that he overheated and that when he stopped for a traffic light or something his visor steamed up very badly. So he mostly cycled open…
However, overall we were luckier with the weather than expected as we were able to catch up the band of dry weather we had noticed at breakfast and then cycle within it for quite a lot of the first 40km today.
Our first castle today was Schloss Varlar near Rosendahl, but it wasn’t somewhere we could actually get to.
Which was a shame, as the photographs show it is a beautiful building.
And an unusual shape for a castle, as visible from the aerial photo:
So having just looked at the closed gates we turned round and carried on.
We were making a reasonable pace with views of the gentle rolling Münsterland hills ahead.
We didn’t manage to see this one at all from the road; the rain meant we didn’t feel like getting out of the velomobiles to look at anything anyway!
Our original route had us passing the second Havixbeck castle, Haus Havixbeck, but instead we stayed north of the main town and headed eastwards towards Münster.
Our alternative route to us to Otfried’s routed us near the third Havixbeck castle, Burg Hülshoff.
We arrived at Otfried’s in the dry but it looked like the rain cloud would catch us up soon. There was nowhere undercover to store Millie so Otfried lent me a cover he made for his Quest. It fitted Millie very well, although was no longer waterproof (he had warned me of this). But it’s given me some ideas if I can find a suitable-size tarpaulin – it would need to cover the whole Deckel and the Naca Duct too.
Otfried and his wife had made us a cheesecake. It was warm out of the oven so we got to admire it for the first round of teas while it cooled down.
When it was time for the second round of warming drinks, the Käsekuchen was judged cool enough to eat…
We spent two hours with Otfried and his wife and it was great to talk to them and share experiences of cycling.
The rain was coming down very hard when we left but we weren’t expecting it to improve so there was little point in waiting. We waved goodbye and headed off into the rain.
I noticed some very sweet and amusing road names on our tour through Münsterland, and one was just south of Otfried’s house – a road called Dingbängerweg!
We were now heading south, parallel to the A1, as it curved slightly to the east. We rode through Amelsbüren and then headed towards Rinkerode, where we passed Haus Borg.
Not a good photograph by me at all, here are a couple of better ones!
The amazing thing about this castle is that it seems to now be in use as a Polytechnic (Fachhochschule). What an amazing place to get your education!
Klaus and I were hungry after all this cycling in the heavy rain and we needed something warming so cycled further into the town of Nordkirchen and eventually found a restaurant that was open for hot food at 3:30 in the afternoon – a Croatian restaurant. We had a good meal and then set off for the final 10km to our accommodation in Selm.
We were overnighting in a small Ferienwohnung and the host and hostess were very friendly, letting us store the velomobiles in a store room under one of the apartments.
Both velomobiles were soaking wet but the rain had finally moved away and the forecast for our last day was dry, hurrah!
Day 3: Selm to Kempen
Klaus woke up with a headache, and realised he had not slept very well on the bed/pillow. This unfortunately dogged him throughout the day as the headache was often tending towards a migraine – but we had 120km to ride.
You can see from our reduced average speed that today was harder – not because of the weather (it was dry) or the terrain (less hilly), but as Klaus was feeling under the weather.
We set off at about 9am, enjoying the fact that the sun was shining at last, although it wasn’t particularly warm.
We were very soon at our first castle of the day, Schloss Sandfort. It was a bit hair-raising pulling into the driveway of this castle as there were lots of massive trucks barrelling along the country road to this castle. Some kind of building work was going on, so I quickly got a photo and escaped again!
Here is a better photo, from the inside:
We cycled through Olfen and then continued on roads which were busier than yesterday (Monday morning, to be expected). We used the cycle paths a bit more than we might usually do, partly because of the traffic but also because Klaus wasn’t feeling quite so energetic. Sometimes the cycle path is a bit of a challenge in itself – this one was full of twists and turns for a couple of kilometres:
Approaching Ahsen there was a road closure with diversion, which we followed. It turned out to be OK but one is never entirely sure if it will be a huge detour (it probably added 2km to the total so not too bad). We were riding alongside the wiggly river Lippe, and there is also a canal which had been above the height of the road earlier in our ride today.
We skirted north of Haltern am See but stopped for a coffee and cookie at a McDonalds as Klaus was flagging.
Suitably refreshed we carried on through Wulfren and then we arrived at Schloss Lembeck, somewhere Klaus has regularly stayed in the past (it is a hotel). We stopped, of course!
Despite it only being 20km since our McDonalds stop, we couldn’t resist the café…
We enjoyed a good break here, sitting outside in the sunshine rather than hiding from the rain as we had been doing the last two days!
We continued on in due course, once again to stop quite soon at another castle – Schloss Raesfeld. What a lovely place!
As we were having a relaxing day we stopped and had a bowl of soup whilst looking at the castle. It was a really lovely little area with quaint shops, no cars – just lots of people on bikes!
It was time to move on and we were now heading for Wesel, which is definitely our part of the world. The route Klaus had chosen avoided the busy main roads and took us through some lovely rural areas with fields, woodland and mostly good quality roads. It was lovely!
As we approached Wesel we had to stop for ten minutes as Klaus was feeling a bit seedy with his headache. He took another paracetamol and closed his eyes for a little bit, and then we were OK to carry on.
The route through Wesel isn’t particularly nice but eventually we were on the bridge crossing the Rhine.
Rather than the direct route back from Wesel that we had planned we chose a quieter and more scenic route through Menzelen before rejoining our route at Alpen – with a mega hill. The run back to Issum, Sevelen, Kengen, Saelhuysen and then home via Stenden felt like quite a long way for Klaus, I believe, as his headache was getting worse. But we arrived home safe and sound, unpacked the bikes, wrung out the water from the sound-dampening foam in Emily’s side pockets (Klaus was transporting about a kilo of water, I think!) and then it was time for a shower and for Klaus to lie down in a darkened room! He felt better after about half an hour.
Despite Klaus being a bit poorly on the last day, and despite the rain, we had a lovely tour. Münsterland is great to cycle through and we will definitely go back again. Thanks again to Otfried and his wife for their generous hospitality and Käsekuchen.
Last month was a very good month for cycling as we had our Bodensee tour, but this month wasn’t too shabby either, with a total of 766km cycled.
And I went here:
As there were some warm days I decided to get Alfie the trike out of storage and ride him a little. I always love riding my trikes, although it is of course much slower than riding a velomobile. I used him for my work commute for a week.
Tile-bagging and other rides
I have mentioned my tile-bagging (Veloviewer Explorer Square) in previous blog posts. The image below is my Veloviewer Max Square on 1 July:
As you can see from this, I had completed lots of squares north or south of my central point but I needed to expand east and west. So that gave me a purpose for some of my rides over the month of July.
Below I have written a few short reports of some of these rides, most of which involved tile-bagging, at least tangentially.
The first Saturday in July was the Niederrhein Radwandertag. This wasn’t something I had been particularly aware of, but when asking Ralf if he wanted to cycle (Klaus was away in Korea) he said that people were meeting in St Tönis so I said I might go there as part of a tile-bagging route. I then looked up what was happening and saw it was the Radwandertag.
My plan was to ride the route with Hartmut (he was leading a ride) but then I noticed that his route was going to Willich and that isn’t a route I particularly like, so I decided instead to go to Kempen first, get the card there (they stamp it if you visit one of the Stands) and then get a second stamp in St Tönis.
So I went to Kempen, got the card and a stamp, and also a booklet which had the routes. I decided not to follow the official route to St Tönis from Kempen as it had some stretches that weren’t so velomobile-suitable, I just rode directly there.
It was lovely to see Hartmut and Herbert at St Tönis and I took the opportunity to have a nice slice of cake!
I had planned a route from St Tönis towards Nettetal as then I could collect some more Veloviewer tiles on the west of Nettetal, heading to Herongen. I noticed that my route went through Grefrath-Oedt where there was a Niederrhein Radwandertag Stamping point so I might as well get that. The road was closed for a bit event in Oedt, mostly with the fire brigade, all as part of this special day. I managed to squeeze my way into the town centre and got my card stamped.
From Oedt I headed to Nettetal. I knew there was a stamping point there which was directly on my route (at the De Witt See information centre) so I might as well get that one. I passed a sign to Breyell, 1.5km away, and there was a stamping point there but as I wasn’t really doing this I didn’t bother. Which I then started to regret about 2km later as I though I could get several more, and I had only just missed Breyell. Oh well, too late!
I got my stamped at the Nettetal place and used their loo whilst also having a quick look around the wildlife information centre.
Now I was on my tile-bagging route and so I fiddled around a bit, as you can see from the map below of my whole ride. The western side is where I was tile-bagging – I needed tiles in Hinsbeck, Louisenburg and Herongen.
I noticed from the Radwandertag booklet that there were stamping places also in Wachtendonk and Kerken (although the Kerken one was actually in Stenden). Why not get those on the way home too? So I did!
I could have also gone to Geldern and got another one, but I was so annoyed about missing the Breyell one that I decided to stop at Kerken. I handed in my card there, and the lady said I had by far the most stamps.
All in all it was a 70km ride and I enjoyed it a lot. Good weather, good cake, some fast roads… what more can you ask for?
By the way, KK (the first stamp) is the German shorthand for Kempen, which is now on our number plates (we used to only be allowed VIE for Viersen but some of the older plate designations, that had been removed formerly, are now allowed again). KK was originally “Kempen und Krefeld”, when they shared a registration mark, but Krefeld has had its own (KR) for a long time now. Some wag decided that KK stands for “Königreich Kempen” (the Kingdom of Kempen) and you see that in lots of places – people have numberplate holders made with Königreich Kempen on them, also stickers etc.
Tilebagging – NL part 1
I had a second tile-bagging ride, this time 72km and mostly in the Netherlands. I managed to bag lots of tiles on this one, but had to do a very fiddly route to get them!
I rode first to Straelen via Kerken (good, fast roads!) and then headed down down a long, straight road which went towards the B9, crossing it briefly before I nipped into Herongen. From there it was into the Netherlands and following my Garmin to ensure I picked up the tiles. At one point I was riding on the road (although there was a cycle path available – naughty me!) and I was very pleased to be on the road as the cycle path went in a completely different direction and I would have missed my tile!
The route my Garmin had arranged around Venlo was surprisingly good and I was able to keep moving and the cycling infrastructure was very good.
I went north towards Arcen and got some tiles, then it was time to go east again and head home. I saw signs to Jagersrust which looked like some kind of café which indeed it was, and I stopped for an ice cream and a cuppa! It was a warm day and I had forgotten to take a bottle of water with me.
The ice cream was very good!
However, being NL this was pretty pricey (I think I paid 8 Euro in total for the tea and ice cream). And then when I left, I noticed about 50 metres up the road I crossed back into Germany and there was a rather nice looking Bauerncafé which undoubtedly sold good German cakes! I would have to return to check it out…
And two days later I did! As Klaus was away in Korea I had a lot of time on my hands and with the good weather I decided to bag some more tiles.
Tile-bagging NL – part 2
This ride was 76km and was back in a similar region to the last one.
I started via Kerken again and this time rode up to Walbeck. From here I followed the purple line on my Garmin (the route carefully prepared by me the night before to get all the possible tiles I could in the shortest distance!), then I headed across to Arcen. I would perhaps normally have stopped for cake in Arcen but I had planned my route to take me to the new Bauerncafé on the way back, so I kept on.
I rode straight down the main road between Arcen and Venlo, using the cycle path beside the road. This is a decent path and it is of course the law that we should use it. I just reached the outskirts of Venlo when my track curved round and started taking me back north again, to get another set of tiles.
When planning the route there was a very tricky tile to get, as there only seemed to be narrow farm tracks to get there. It wasn’t clear whether I would actually succeed, and when I got there (the black spot on the map below) I discovered a sub-optimal track ahead.
Oh dear, I definitely couldn’t cycle this!
I had climbed out of Millie and had a look around. It looked as though an asphalted track started after just 100 metres or so. There was no obvious alternative route on my Garmin so I just had to push Millie. She is low-slung so it was quite musical with all the plants and thistles rubbing on her underside, plus I have a minor paranoia about ticks (I was wearing sandals), but eventually Millie and I both made it through mostly unscathed.
The road surface was pretty bad for the next 2km but still way better than walking across bumpy grass! I visited some bits of NL I guess I will never visit again – really quaint hamlets, farms etc. But in due course I arrived at the Bauerncafé Jacobs and they did indeed have cakes, and they were indeed tasty!
After being fortified with this cake I headed home at super-speed, glad to have bagged some more tiles!
Tile-Bagging in Brachter Wald
Another long tile-bagging ride this month was an attempt to get into the former military manoeuvres area in Brüggen. This ended up as a 90km ride as I also added some more tiles near Venlo.
The problem is on the south-west corner of my track, the Brachter Wald.
Where the black blob is, is a gate. The Brachter Wald/Brüggener Wald are closed off to motorists with various gates. Years ago Klaus and I had major difficulties getting his recumbent trike through the gate at the bottom of the picture (near the Baggersee, where my track abruptly stopped).
I knew that gate would be impassable for me, but wondered if other gates into the woodland would be perhaps of a different design. I had a backup plan, as there were two tiles available within about 500 metres of the gate, so if I couldn’t ride through I would walk through so at least I could bag these two tiles which would certainly help with my Max Square, although walking in SPD sandals isn’t ideal, plus leaving Millie unsupervised!
I arrived at the gate… and it was of a different style, hurrah! The gate that had caused us problems before was a turnstile-type, but this one was a bit different. I thought it might JUST be wide enough for Millie. I had a go – but I couldn’t get her nose moved when I was pushing her from behind. This was really a two-person job. Fortunately a cyclist appeared at the gate from inside the wood and he offered to help. He lifted Millie’s nose up and it just had to shuffle about 10cm to one side and then it worked. She was through!
I decided this meant I could get out OK this way if I had to, but I would try to ride right through in case they had changed the other gate. So you see from my track above, I cycled about 6km through the Brachter Wald, which is lovely – there are wild ponies there! The whole place has become a huge nature reserve, but with signs still of the former Army presence with giant concrete bunkers and silos which nature is slowly assimilating.
(Those last three photos were taken when I visited with Klaus in August 2014, I didn’t take any pictures this time).
When I arrived at the gate at the south end of the Wald, I discovered it had not been changed in the last five years.
I had a bit of a try but there was no way Millie would get through there without having her sawn in half.
So I turned round and cycled the 6km back to the original gate.
This time I really struggled on my own to get through. There was no-one to help and although I had positioned myself at the nose end of Millie, it really needed two people as her tail needed to be shuffled across and this was very hard from her nose end. I watched the carbon fibre flanks of Millie being slightly compressed near her tail area as I slowly wiggled her through the airlock. Finally success, and she had no visible additional scrapes/marks on her (she already has quite a few so I am very phlegmatic about them anyway). So I counted that as a win, plus I bagged my five tiles.
What I did learn from this, however, was that Klaus would no way be able to get Emily through this gate. Not a chance. He will also need to do these tiles in due course. My suggestion to him was that we ride there with Ralf and then Klaus borrow’s Ralf’s DF (which is narrower and shorter than our velomobiles) to do the five tiles/6km ride in Brachter Wald. I mentioned this to Ralf and he told us that our friend Uli actually has a key to the lock to these gates (there is a large gate area which is padlocked but would allow a tank through). So we may have to tempt Uli to have a ride with Klaus through Brachter Wald sometime!
In total my ride on this day was 92km. The rest of it, after negotiating the Brachter Wald gates, was pretty easy; I did one short detour to bag a tile (at a former monastery south of Venlo) where I had to retrace my track after getting to that tile, but it’s not something I usually have to do as there are generally good through-routes. The tile is 1 kilometre square so there are usually several roads in each tile, even in the rural areas.
Cake with Ralf in Stemmeshof
My colleagues had given me a Voucher for a café in Nettetal for my birthday in June and so when Klaus was back from Korea and as he was fighting the jet lag I suggested we rode (with Ralf) to the café to use up the 20 € voucher. This seemed like a good plan, so we had a ride one day with Ralf, doing some tile-bagging.
It turned out also to be a day when we did some velomobile sub-aqua when Ralf led us through some water-filled gullies across some of the field tracks. Millie remained dry inside (and she is usually very leaky), but Klaus’s Emily sucked up rather a lot of water, both in the foot holes at the front and also somehow into the axle box at the back where the gears are. He had to lift Emily’s tail and then her nose to try to encourage the water out of the drainage holes.
After this we had definitely earned our cakes! We arrived at Stemmeshof; I had been there once or twice before but as we walked inside it became clear we could not sit down in there as the noise level was huge! This seems to be a thing with design of public spaces in Germany now – plain walls, tile floor, hard furniture… and it makes for a huge volume level as there are no soft furnishings to dampen the sound. Klaus with his jet lag definitely didn’t fancy a noisy cake so we sat outside although it was a bit cool.
We were a bit boring and all ordered the same cake!
Klaus was feeling really hungry though so he had another slice, this time of a different cake.
That would keep him going for the ride home!
In total this was a 76km ride but it was good fun and it was good to ride with Ralf again – we haven’t managed that so much recently.
Tile-bagging in Viersen
Klaus needed a haircut and he really likes the barber shop in Viersen (so do I). It’s 20km away so it seemed wise to cycle there.
As I had some missing tiles south of Viersen I asked Klaus if we could do a little detour after the haircut and collect them. Of course he agreed (he also needs the tiles!) so I planned a route that would collect several of them.
We passed close to Ralf’s house so dropped in to see him – he was doing some maintenance on his DF. This included the first time he had oiled the chain – after about 6,000km. But in velomobiles the chain is so well protected it doesn’t get that dirty.
We then headed into Lobberich to stop for cake.
Our ride was 71km in total, and Klaus came back with a very good haircut too!
Papperlapapp with Klaus
After our separate holidays (Klaus in Berlin, me in England) we went out for a cycle ride together to enjoy some cake at Papperlapapp. As rain was forecasted we chose Papperlapapp in Vorst because we knew there was a place to park which was undercover – this is the advantage of knowing all the cafes and cake establishments within a 40km radius!
We enjoyed a slice of cake each and just relaxing outside.
The threatened rain didn’t really arrive, just a few spots.
On the way home we rode through quite a different landscape that before our holidays as during this week the wheat had been harvested.
My final solo bit of tile-bagging for the month was an after-work dash around to pick up some tiles to the north (my favourite area to ride) and the north east.
I needed some tiles around Kamp-Lintfort and managed to organise a ride of 93km which bagged a whopping 22 tiles!
I hadn’t originally planned a cake stop but I knew that Landcafé Steudle in Vernum would be open on a Monday (most cafés are shut then) so I had it in the back of my mind, as it would only be a small detour. I wasn’t sure if I would do the whole track, or if I would stop once I had completed the Horstgen tiles (to the NE of the map) as then there was quite a long transfer to Geldern where the next batch of tiles started. I could have stopped halfway round if I didn’t feel like riding more.
However, my legs were good (as was my motor!) and so I kept going, enjoying the relatively quiet roads at three in the afternoon in Kreis Kleve.
There were roadworks in Geldern but I was very lucky and able to continue on my track through the roadworks; they were one way so if I had done this track the other way round I wouldn’t have been able to get a tile. I maintained a good speed for this ride too, with an average of 29.4 km/h for the 93km.
I had to put my foot down a bit towards the end as I suddenly couldn’t remember if Steudle was open until 18:00 or 18:30. I estimated I would arrive there at 17:45 and some German establishments start cashing up early and won’t serve you, even if they are still officially open! But it was fine, I arrived at 17:30 (I put the pedal to the metal a bit for the last hour) and had a lovely slice of cake.
Stelde is 19km from home but we ride this route so regularly that it feels like you are almost home and the journey home goes by in a flash! The only difficulty was crossing the B9 road during rush hour, so it took a bit longer before I was safe to cross to Winternam.
Tile-bagging for Klaus in Krefeld
On the last day in July Klaus suggested we did a ride to bag some of his tiles. His Max Square is smaller than mine, so he is bagging tiles that I have mostly got, but there were two available for me on this tour so it was a worthwhile 36km!
The funny detour out to the east from Niep was to enable me to get a missing tile; Klaus had originally planned the route directly down on the main road from Niep to Krefeld but I spotted there was a very small diversion of 2km to get a tile that we both needed. The planning of these routes is actually fairly complicated, if you try to get all tiles with minimum distance, and also because the maps on Veloviewer are not the same as Google Maps or the maps on the Garmin software, so it’s not always clear exactly where the tiles start and finish.
And this was my Veloviewer Max Square map by the end of July:
And, as a reminder, here’s what it looked like at the beginning of July, when it was 13×13
Doing the Veloviewer Max Square challenge is a really interesting way to ride new roads and visit new places. This is just the rides for 2019, my lifetime Max Square is 21×21 (also here in Germany, as my UK Max Square was limited by the Colne river which meant I couldn’t get several squares north east of where I lived unless I hired a boat).
A visit to England
Because I have been doing lots of overtime at work I have ended up with almost two weeks’ additional leave. So I decided to take a week when Klaus was in Berlin with his daughter Lara (and Poppy also went with them to Berlin but stayed with Lars for the five days) and visit my Mum in England.
Rather than make Klaus drive the 450km round trip to the Hoek van Holland the day before he had to drive all the way to Berlin, I decided to take the train. This used to be easy – Venlo to Rotterdam, Rotterdam to Hoek van Holland. Two trains, one change. However, things are now much more complicated!
As you can see, it is now three trains and a bus. It also costs 24 € for the train and 2,22 € for the bus. Things are much easier with an OV-Chipkaart (a bit like an Oyster card) so on one of my tile-bagging trips I went to Venlo station and bought the card in advance and put 55 € credit on it.
This meant Klaus just had to drop me off at Venlo on the Sunday morning. The return journey on Friday night was more complex as Klaus would probably still be driving back from Berlin, Gudula and Frank weren’t available so I investigated how much a taxi would cost. 55 € seemed very steep, especially as my two day ferry crossings only totalled 77 pounds! Fortunately my colleague Dorothee came to the rescue and said she would pick me up. Hurrah!
So Klaus drove me bright and early to Venlo and I got on the first train, the comfy double-decker.
I got off at Eindhoven and bought a cup of tea whilst awaiting the next train, which took me to Rotterdam. This was a single-decker train and not so nice, but still fine.
At Rotterdam I just needed to get a train to Schiedam. This was only a four minute journey but I had to wait a while for the train.
I got off at Schiedam and then had to follow the signage to the bus stop, bus 711 which goes directly to Hoek van Holland. It arrived after about 10 minutes and several people with suitcases – including me! – got on.
I went right to the back so I could leave my case on the floor.
This was an easy journey and I arrived at the Stena ferry with two hours in hand.
This was planned, as I knew I wanted to pop into the Albert Heijn supermarket in Hoek van Holland to buy food for the ferry journey. It’s 8 hours on the ferry with not much to do except read, play on the iPad (but no wifi, so I had downloaded some TV programmes) and eat. If you eat on the ferry it’s expensive so I went round Albert Heijn picking up things that I thought I fancied. This included salad, olives and feta, bottled water, houmous, but also a few non-Keto things such as a sandwich and a bread roll to go with my salad.
I managed to kill enough time that boarding was starting once I had walked back to the ferry terminal. The queue for motor traffic seemed to be 90% motorhomes!
I knew the ferry would be very busy and indeed it was. I went to the front end to look at the view.
It was way too noisy here though, right next to the big restaurant, so I took myself off to the quiet area near the stern of the boat and found a comfortable chair. I settled down for the long journey.
I watched a couple of TV programmes and finished a book I had brought with me. Then I went for a constitutional around the deck. I left my bag of food and my water bottle on my seat/table area so it was bagged as I didn’t want to lose it! But I had to take my iPad with me (I had checked in my suitcase).
It was a beautiful day for a crossing. We left Hoek van Holland at 14:00 and I sighted land in the UK an hour and a half before we actually docked – this is due to the route the ferry has to take due to the sandbanks around the East Coast waters. There were some lovely views though. That line on the horizon is Suffolk, where I was headed!
We disembarked at 20:00 UK time and Mum was there to collect me. It was great to see her again and to be back in the UK.
The next day was a mostly lazy day. It was going to be very warm in the UK but fortunately where Mum lives is a village at the top of a hill so there’s always a nice breeze.
I had my morning cup of tea in the garden.
Later on in the day I went for a walk to visit my Dad’s grave, and took the cross-country walk back. The gentle rolling hills of Suffolk have a very different view than Niederrhein.
The barley seemed a bit further ahead than in Germany.
In the afternoon we went for a cuppa with Mum’s neighbour and friend Stephanie. Stephanie rents her house and the landlord won’t let her plant things in the garden, so instead she has created an amazing flower garden in pots. It was beautiful!
The next day was set to be really warm – 34 degrees (very unusual for England although we get to that temperature quite often in Kempen). We had arranged to visit my cousin Moyna in the afternoon, but in the morning we headed into Ipswich by bus to do a few bits and bobs (I bought a new bag as the one I had with me on the way over started collapsing). The bus journey back was interesting as the bus conked out at the bus station but the driver found another one, although when we were underway he said it was gutless and there were some hills on the route. We made it back though!
In the afternoon we drove to Moyna’s. She lives in a beautiful thatched cottage called Holly Cottage.
As it was such a warm day we sat in the garden. Moyna has a fantastic garden!
We sat on the verandah of the summerhouse and ate scones with homemade jam and clotted cream.
And we looked across the fields to some of the rather nicer bits of Essex!
We had a really good chinwag with Moyna and plenty of cups of tea. I last saw her at the funeral of my father, over three years ago, so it was good to catch up again. I also enjoyed driving Mum’s car around the lanes fairly near where I used to live in Colchester.
Mum and I settled down in the evening to watch an episode of the series Chernobyl. I had ordered the DVD to be delivered to Mum’s in England and so we watched all five episodes whilst I was at her house. I had also brought along some Russian chocolates that my customer had brought for me at work; we ate the mystery Russian chocs whilst watching Chernobyl.
I also went to visit my sister one day and went out for lunch with her and my eldest niece, Gwenllian. In a spooky coincidence we were all dressed in white tops.
We then proceeded to go out for a Chinese buffet meal and Klaus said I was bound to spill some down my white linen top. This is mainly because I usually spill food when I eat (I have to eat largely one-handed due to dodgy left elbow). Anyway, on this occasion I was very careful with my napkin and at the end of the meal I hadn’t spilled any but the other two had. Go me!
I also met my middle niece Angharad’s new kitten, Socks.
Gwen’s dog Chip was in the house and he was being very friendly to Socks, but Socks was not sure about Chip. As Chip can’t walk up the stairs in Anna’s house, Socks had learned to go up the stairs and look through the gap between the treads at what was happening below.
I had a lovely time with Anna and Gwen, and later also saw my other two nieces Angharad and Ceridwen, but was a bit shocked by the mug my sister gave me to drink my tea from:
Although Anna and I have a very easy-going relationship, and we agree on many things (Brexit being a disaster, etc), we clearly don’t vote the same way in General Elections!
The next day was my last full day and we had no specific plans, so decided to head to the beach (I had said to Mum I would like to visit the beach as we can’t really do that in Kempen as we are at least two hours away from the coast!)
We went to a beach in Suffolk called Shingle Street. We had been told there was nothing there, which was true, but it was lovely.
We walked past the artist and then found ourselves on a beach with only about 10 other people in sight.
A few people were swimming but they said it was very cold!
It wasn’t just the heads of swimmers we saw, there was also a seal in this cove area. We could just see his face peeping out of the water from time to time.
After an hour of simply sitting on the shingle and watching the ships go by (including the ferry I would be travelling on tomorrow), and also watching the swimmers and dogs frolicking in the water, we headed back via a pub for a pub lunch.
We stopped at the supermarket on the way back and bought me some more teabags. I bought about 2500 bags, carrying 840 home and leaving the rest in stock at Mum’s to collect when we come at Christmas with the car. I had actually misremembered how many teabags I had back in Germany and when I got home I counted them all up and it seems that I now own 5,000 bags. So that should keep me safe over the first few months of Brexit anyway.
In order to improve my tea drinking at Mum’s I bought myself a larger mug (I like big mugs). The choice was a bit slim but I liked this one’s shape and the message on it is acceptable (not sure if Klaus agrees).
Mum’s lovely neighbour Maureen brought round some slices of a coffee & walnut cake she had made so we enjoyed that with a cuppa.
In the evening Mum accommodated my request and we went out for an Indian meal as I do miss a good Indian here in Germany!
The following morning we left home at 06:30 for Mum to take me to the ferry, which would leave at 09:00. We had bought food for the journey yesterday, so I said goodbye to Mum, checked my suitcase and then headed to the quiet area again, where I got a better seat. I watched out of the window as we went past the many wind farms in the shallows around the East Coast.
The journey was fine – I read a lot of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming which I had purchased in the UK. I watched a film or two on my iPad, and then we were approaching the Hook of Holland.
I had the schedule for the return bus/train/train/train and annoyingly missed the first bus as we had to wait ages for our suitcases to arrive at Baggage Reclaim. When I caught the next bus I had to stand the whole way as it was full.
The train connection from Schiedam to Rotterdam was easy, and as I had a 20 minute wait for the next train I had an ice cream at Rotterdam.
I hopped on the train to Eindhoven, and had a message from Klaus to say he was already home from Berlin! He had made excellent progress with the driving. He had picked up Poppy from Lars in Berlin too so she was also home. I was able to tell my colleague Dorothee that she wouldn’t need to pick me up from Venlo, Klaus would.
Except it didn’t quite work like that. There was a huge electrical storm as my train approached Tilburg and when it got to the station it stopped. After half an hour people got on, and it was clear that this train was now going back to Rotterdam rather than continuing to Eindhoven. It was hard to get any information about the trains but I did hear an announcement saying passengers for Venlo should get the train to Nijmegen as no trains were continuing to Eindhoven because of the storm.
Nijmegen is definitely nearer home than Tilburg so I decided that was a plan. After a 20 minute wait a train arrived, which I got on. During this time I had been checking on the Dutch rail website ns.nl to see what trains ran from Nijmegen to Venlo – and it turned out none did! I could get multiple busses (6 in total to get to Venlo). This was completely hopeless so I phoned Klaus and he said he would set off straight away to drive to Nijmegen to pick me up. This, another 2 hours in total, after driving all the way back from Berlin!
I wrote a post on Facebook saying how annoying this was that there was no train from Nijmegen to Venlo and friend Oliver said that there is one, it just isn’t an NS train but is Arriva. I checked Arriva’s website (very poor!) and lo and behold there was! It travels via Cuijk, Boxmeer, Venray etc (familiar cycling territory). I phoned Klaus to ask if it helped him if I got the train to Cuijk or something but he said he was approaching Nijmegen. I only had to wait about five minutes before he appeared at the station to pick me up – what a hero! I eventually got home at 22:00, having expected to be home at 20:30.
I really enjoyed my time in England, it was very relaxing, and I don’t mind the travelling either, but it was good to be home. We’ll be returning to England at the beginning of September, but this time in our velomobiles!
As July has been very dry, the farmers have to water the potatoes almost constantly. They often have to lay giant hoses across the road. They are supposed to put blocks each side to let cars cross, but some are better than others. This was on my way to work one morning:
And you can clearly see from this photo why I got stuck!
I tend to always get stuck on the foot cover/bump, which I only have on the left hand side (as you look at this picture, the right hand side from inside) and I am seriously considering cutting this one out as well so that I have more ground clearance. It will also give more airflow which is positive in summer but probably negative in winter.
Same location, another day, another type of hose covering – although this one I actually managed to ride over without coming to a juddering halt!
I am now careful to choose a different route if I can see signs of watering on the potato field.
I walked back from work one day in July (Klaus gave me a lift into the office) and on the 4.2km route I spotted a few places where there were some nice blackberries so went back in the afternoon with a tub to collect ’em!
My working life is mostly OK. There are constant changes where I work but other things remain eternally static… I have some great colleagues and we work really well together, but there are also some very difficult issues to deal with at work. But things are looking up in some ways. At least I am having to do less overtime at the moment so I can enjoy the nice weather for all my bike trips.
I have effectively a job-share, where I work 5 hours a day and my colleague Alex full time, both looking after our key account. As an management-desired experiment she has been working from another office for the last two weeks. The logic of this is hard to fathom, but it does mean I get more exercise walking to her office to pick up paperwork etc; it’s a good five minute round trip! It also means lots of phone calls to discuss what we are doing, rather than the previous rotating my chair 10 degrees so I can talk directly to her where she sits a metre away. As is always the case, the Ways of Management are Unknowable.
I have noticed that our new photocopier/printer/scanner in the office speaks a rather weird version of Dutch.
Firstly, I am not entirely sure why our photocopier is speaking Dutch to us anyway (it’s a German company, although the touchscreen talks to us in German), but I also have a strong suspicion that’s not a real Dutch word…
Cakes this month
You have undoubtedly noticed lots of cake pictures scattered throughout the text of this blog, but here are some other cakes that were consumed this month by me or by companions.
And next month, August? We have a mini bike tour in the middle of August to visit some castles in Münsterland (we have taken the Monday off work so we can have a three day tour). We also leave for our tour to England at the end of August, riding through NL over two days to Hoek van Holland. But apart from that we have a fairly normal month with work and no doubt tile-bagging (although this is now getting harder as the tiles are further away!).
I really appreciate whenever my readers comment, so please let me know if there is anything you particularly like about my blog posts or if there are things I should talk about more. I guarantee I will continue to do some good cake testing on your behalf, should you ever find yourself in this part of Germany!
As mentioned in last month’s blog, Klaus had some issues with Emily and wanted to get her checked out by Velomobiel.nl before our two-week cycle tour in the second half of the month of June. This was proved even more necessary when Klaus’s Schlumpf Mountain Drive gave up the ghost when riding up a steepish hill on our way back from the Grensland Tour.
Our trip to Dronten was very necessary!
As has now become customary, our idea was to cycle as far as Vaassen (near Epe) after work on Friday, a journey of 140km or so. We would then cycle the next morning the 44km to Dronten, have the work done, then cycle back to Vaassen where we would stay for a second night. We would then ride home at our leisure on the Sunday.
On the Friday it was tricky for me to get away from work as it was so super-busy, but when I got a call from Klaus to say he was on his way home from work I had the excuse to go. After a quick lunch we headed off on our bikes northwards towards Vaassen.
We set off at 13:30 and headed northwards, with a cracking tailwind behind us. In fact, it was really rather windy, and and quite a blustery wind at that. Fortunately the Milan is excellent in winds, and the Quattrovelo was also very good.
We were really putting the pedal to the metal and ended up with an average speed to the German/Dutch border of 34 km/h. Not bad at all!
You can see the split times here. Lap 1 was home to Rees, Lap 2 was Rees to the border, Lap 3 was NL to our burger stop near Apeldoorn, and Lap 4 was the final push to Vaassen.
So we rode very fast most of the way. Despite Emily’s many problems (screeching noise from rear axle, mountain drive only in the high gear, missing fixing for visor and periodically-deflating air ball suspension), she was also going well. She was laden with all our luggage for the three day tour (which is almost the same amount as we have for a three week tour), which must have made the accelerations more work, but she cruised nicely. Emily benefits more from the tailwind than Millie as she was a wider backside.
Just before the border in Anholt we stopped for a piece of cake at the bakery attached to a REWE supermarket.
After finishing our cake and hot drinks we headed onward, this time with a bit more of a sidewind than tailwind.
We were soon in NL and onto roads that I had ridden once before but for Klaus were very familiar. He has made an awful lot of trips to Dronten!! I tucked in behind him, following him as he was more familiar with the route. We were still going very fast.
We stopped for chips and a burger at a place he has stopped at before, just off the cycle path near Apeldoorn.
The bikes were parked just off the cycle track.
Once we stopped I noticed that I had developed my leg heat rash again. I get this each year on the first few really hot rides – it’s hot and itchy and a bit painful, but indeed it had gone down again after two days. I think it is some kind of sweat rash, and interestingly this time was only on my bare leg, not on my thighs which had cycling shorts on.
The good news is that once this rash had gone down after a couple of days, I didn’t get it again on the longer Bodensee tour starting the next weekend. I have also had a heat rash on my arms but again managed to avoid this on the Bodensee tour by being very careful to wash the sweat off regularly.
We had a bit of a wait for our burger and chips but after we ate these we headed on fairly quickly. We didn’t want to be too late as we were both tired after a busy working week.
We soon arrived in Vaassen and made our way to our Vrienden op de Fiets Garden House again. The lady Ank who is our host is very friendly and we soon settled in. The bikes had pride of place in the carport, sheltered from the wind which was increasing.
The next morning we were up early, ate our breakfast and then it was time to head north to Dronten.
The wind was really strong now, with branches blowing around in the wind and sticks and leaves skidding over the road surface. Our route for today took us over the Veluwe National Park which had lots of trees – we thought this might be a bit interesting in this weather!
There were some very blowy sections as we had expected, and Klaus had to stop at one point to remove a branch blocking the way.
But overall the ride was fine, and we made good progress again with an average of about 30 km/h to Dronten.
When we arrived at Dronten our ways parted. I went to Intercity Bike as I had asked them to service Millie, and Klaus went to Velomobiel.nl for Emily’s works.
I arrived at Intercity Bike to meet again some people who had been on the Grensland Tour last week. The lady had also brought some cake (as it was actually her birthday that day!) so she shared that, which was very kind.
Right in the entrance way was a brand new Milan SL. It turns out that Intercity Bike will become Milan dealers in the near future. This is very interesting information!!
We had a good chat as Peter was working first on her bike, trying to source a mystery squeak/rattling sound.
After he finished with her it was time for Millie to have her service.
First I removed all my luggage and then Peter took her for a test ride. His conclusion: the tiller was too loose (which I had thought), one of my wheels seemed bumpy so perhaps a dodgy tyre (I thought it was the rim as I had had this issue despite changing the tyre) but apart from that all was well, the gears were great etc, although he needed to adjust the brakes a bit.
So it looked as though he only really needed to do the tiller and check the wheels and brakes. Not too bad!
Peter removed a block thingie from the bottom of the tiller which he said can get worn, and replaced it with a new one.
Here is the old one:
And here is the tiller separated without this part:
It was all put back together very quickly.
He then looked at the wheel and adjusted the brakes, not at the tiller end but at the end which attaches to the wheel. This is always a real pain for Klaus and I to do but Peter seemed much more adept and managed it in ten minutes or so.
He then checked whether the wheel was round – and lo, as I had suspected, it wasn’t. There was a slight bend as the wheel rotated. He decided to adjust the spoke tightness a little to try to repair this, and after the first turn of a spoke key a spoke broke! So after his lunch he replaced this spoke (I had spares with me) and then the wheel was much better, although still not 100% true.
I put all Millie’s gubbins back in her and said thanks to the guys at Intercity Bike, and then it was time to head over to Velomobiel.nl where they were still working on Emily.
When I arrived they were replacing the rear axle. There had been some damage to the axle and Allert had replaced some parts.
After this the Schlumpf was removed and a new one put in place.
Klaus has written a summary of what was involved:
Hier die Checkliste
– Hinterachse wurde getauscht, da eingelaufen – Lageraufnahmen wurden nachgearbeitet, da die Lager teilweise stramm oder zu stramm saßen. – Einige Lager der Hinterachse wurden getauscht, da diese nicht mehr optimal liefen. Die waren auch die Ursache für das Geräusch von der Hinterachse – Schlumpf Mountaindrive wurde getauscht – Ventileinsatz an der Luftfederung getauscht, da undicht – Visierhalterung nachgearbeitet
Wie sich jetzt die Ursachenkette zusammensetzte kann ich nicht sagen. Ob nun die zu engen Lageraufnahmen Ursache für die defekten Lager und die eingelaufenen Achsen waren…who knows. Hauptsache jetzt ist Ruhe und ich kann ruhigen Gewissens unsere Sommertour angehen.
Ich muss ehrlich gestehen, manchmal nagen schon Zeifel, ob das Quattrovelo das richtige VM für mich ist. Die Fahrt nach Dronten hat mir mal wieder gezeigt, ob der ganzen Probleme das QV passt für mich. Das Strada war schon gut. Der Milan ist schnell. Aber das QV vereint die wichtigen Aspekte beim VM für mich ein ein Konzept.
Also weiter geht’s. Drückt mir mal die Daumen, damit ich nicht allzu häufig nach Dronten fahren muss.
After all this Emily was working very well again. We had a cup of tea with the guys at Velomobiel.nl and Eva had even brought some Apple Streusel so we enjoyed a piece of that!
Klaus had a test sit in the new Alpha 7 velomobile, although found the entry extremely narrow, and he also had a close look at the model for the new Quest.
At about 4pm everything was finished and we headed off. The wind was still strong but the sky was nicer and our route back via Elburg and Veluwe was lovely.
Just after I took this last photo we suddenly got rained upon, but it only lasted five minutes. We had been skirting rainclouds on the ride up till that point and had been very lucky, and so a short drenching wasn’t too bad.
We headed straight into Vaassen itself to a supermarket and bought ourselves salads and other goodies for dinner, which we ate in our Garden House. Neither of us felt particularly the need to go out to a restaurant.
Our total for the day was 93km at an average speed of 28.2 km/h.
The next morning was our ride home. We took the same route as we had used for the outward journey, but this time I took some more photos!
As we reached Dieren my need for the loo was such that we stopped at an ice cream place – which also did cake.
We then rode non-stop to the town on the border with Germany (the last NL town) where we stopped for Klaus to have a paracetamol as he had a headache, and for us to drink some water. I had also made some rolls out of the remainders of breakfast so we had a little to eat.
Although the wind had died down a lot compared to the previous two days, we still had a reasonable headwind which made the going a little slower. But we were very soon on familiar roads and we did a minor detour to Bauerncafé Büllhorsthof for their much-beloved Mandarinen-Schmand Kuchen.
It was pretty warm outside so we found a shady table under a tree.
From here it was only 31km home and we zoomed along.
Our total distance was 138.77km and the average speed was 29.9 for me and 30.0 for Klaus.
Emily was running really well after her repairs, and Millie also had better brakes and her tiller felt more precise. On smooth roads the fact that my wheel was a bit more round was also noticeable.
All in all, we had a very good trip. The distances per day were about what we would do on our summer tour, so it was good to know that we were both getting into our summer fitness. Well, I am of course assisted by my motor, but still I work a bit too, burning around 1000 calories per day from the cycling alone.
Thanks to the guys at Intercity Bike and Velomobiel.nl for the bike maintenance work.
Repairs to Millie’s Deckel/Lid
Millie the Milan has white bodywork but the lid/Deckel is red. This was resprayed for me by Ludwig when I bought Millie from him.
Unfortunately in some high winds last month, whilst parked at work Millie’s Deckel flew open and banged against her bodywork and the paint was cracked. It started to flake.
I considered having it resprayed but this seemed like a lot of money. In the end I decided to see if I could disguise the paint chips/flakes, at least in the short term. So I decided to have another go at doing the vinyl wrapping.
It was much easier this time as I could bring the area I was working on into the house!
As it was already red, I only needed to add white and blue. First of all I marked out where the red bits would stay.
You can see in the bottom right quadrant the section with the bad paint. I had sanded it off a little, but the entire topcoat was lifting. Here it is zoomed in a bit:
Now I will remind my readers here that I am not very good at the vinyl wrapping. It requires patience and two strong arms/hands, and both of these are slightly lacking in me. However, the first section went well!
This was, of course, the easiest bit. I had a hairdryer to warm the vinyl first which made it easier to move around. But I had a mini disaster on the second wedge, over the paint cracked area; I didn’t lay it straight and tried to lift it up again – and it took loads more paint with it! In the end I managed something but it wasn’t as good as the first wedge.
Basically, the curvy bits of Millie are hard to wrap. So in the end I did it with two white lines and then filled the blue in; for the first wedge the entire section was white, and then with the blue on top, so it looked smoother.
But I managed it in the end, and although no great work of art it’s not too bad from afar!
You can see that the vinyl is quite reflective.
And here it is in situ on Millie.
My feeling is that this is actually a bit too much Union Jack, and that I might need to take it off again and just return to the red sometime, but we shall see.
This month, as mentioned before, I had to work much more than normal as my colleague was on holiday. She is full-time and I work 5 hours per day usually, so I ended up working some 12 hour days. This is pretty exhausting for me as I am not used to it. My Garmin smartwatch tracks my stress during the day, and here is what a normal working day looks like:
And here is what one of my working days that week looked like:
It was a relief to have two weeks off for the cycle tour and my colleague was working flat-out the whole two weeks. I still have a lot of outstanding holiday as I have done so much overtime so will visit my Mum for a few days next month and may also take a few random days off to enjoy the summer.
Cakes this month
Most of this month’s cakes were consumed on our tours so the photos have already been uploaded, but here are a few which didn’t yet make it onto one of the blog posts.
After two weeks touring eating normal food (high carbohydrate) we are returning to our low-carb/ketogenic ways, so may have to be a bit stricter for a few weeks while we readjust. So perhaps there will be fewer cake photos next month. Watch this space to see!
I woke at 5:30am and read the internet until it was time to get up. We were ready by 7:30am and hoped that breakfast would be served, but there was no sign of it so we sat outside and waited for half an hour. The bikes were fine after their night under the balcony.
Unfortunately at 8:00am there was still no activity. It seemed breakfast would be later! We decided to leave (although I was really annoyed about this as it was one of the more expensive hotels and we had paid for the breakfast!) but just as we were wheeling the bikes towards the road a lady appeared. She said breakfast was at 9, and that it said it on the bit of paper in our room (which we didn’t have), and she then spoke to the manageress, an old lady of 84, who said they would get breakfast ready early. So we did in deed get our breakfast, and Klaus also had a long chat with the manageress who was the owner of this vineyard. She talked about the problems of succession after her, and also that the Königswinter area used to have 3000 people employed in the viticulture, now they just have 70.
We ended up leaving at about 9am and were heading towards Köln. We had three different tracks on our Garmins as we were doing a mix ‘n match of them.
The first track was the reverse of our ride a fortnight ago. We decided to use this track to Wesseling (before Köln) and after this we would head into Köln itself, continuing to Dormagen and then going cross-country home.
The first 5km were on the eastern bank of the Rhein but we soon crossed over.
We were approaching Bonn under blue skies.
It was easy to follow the outward route from a fortnight ago and we rolled well over the cycle path beside the Rhein.
Klaus and I both remembered stopping here with Simon and Joyce four years ago for a photo. This is the kilometre marker of the Rhein.
The route also turned inland at sections, but was overall good.
The final 4km to the centre of Köln were of course slower, and the final 500 metres was very tough. I knew that the Dom was up quite a lot higher than the Radweg, and that there were steps everywhere, so it was a bit of a challenge to find a slope. In the end we did, but had to crawl through hordes of people in order to make our way to the Domplatz. We wanted the one photo to show we had been here with our velomobiles!
The place was way too crowded so we turned to leave almost immediately. I tried to follow our route back to the Radweg as at least I knew I wouldn’t have to go down any steps that way, and Klaus took a different route on the roads. He ended up ahead of me and waited for me a little way along the track.
The road out of Köln that we first took was Kempener Strasse, so it looked as though we were going in the right direction! It was actually not too difficult to get out of Köln and the roads weren’t too busy, but there was a lot of stop and go with traffic lights. It was a warm day and when we sat stationary at the traffic lights it got very hot, especially with the heat rising from the asphalt.
After 60km I felt badly in need of a break. After an abortive attempt to find a bakery (large signposts for it, no bakery to be seen) we found somewhere just before they were closing. It was in the village after Heimersdorf; we would have preferred to stop in Heimersdorf as that is presumably the village belonging to our friend Ralf Heimers (he of the Sprinter fame).
We both chose the strawberry slice. There was no tea available as they had turned off the coffee machine, so we had cold drinks instead.
After we left the bakery my Garmin decided it wanted to give me turn-by-turn directions (i.e. it counts down till the next junction, tells you which way to turn and bleeps a lot). I have actually switched this off but periodically it turns itself on again for ten minutes.
What I hadn’t realised was that my Garmin decided to send me the wrong way. I turned off a nice fast road onto a woodland track… very bumpy, but following the purple line. Klaus was a little way behind me and he actually shouted at me and hooted to tell me I was going the wrong way but I didn’t hear it over the noise of the bumpy track.
There was a closed level crossing after 500 metres and I had to get out to press the button to request for it to be opened. Which it did, after two trains had gone past. I wondered where Klaus was and decided he was looking for an alternative less off-road route.
I turned the corner and there was more off-road. I didn’t fancy 2km of that and so had a look at the map on my Garmin. I then decided to phone Klaus to find out where he was, and he said he was following the track and I had gone off-track. A good look at my Garmin showed me it was the stupid turn-by-turn directions trying to take me a weird route – argh!!! In the end I rode back again to where I had turned off and caught Klaus up eventually.
After Dormagen I was beginning to feel a bit poorly from the heat, so Klaus found a McDonalds where we stopped. He had a burger but I didn’t feel like eating so just had my cold water. I didn’t want to linger there as it was full of kids (I am a misanthrope) and very noisy and bright. I had hoped for a relaxing Biergarten somewhere, but in Neuss and Dormagen that was not likely. But we would be going through Willich soon and that had possibilities.
We had 40km to go after we left the McDonalds and I just followed in Klaus’s wheel tracks and turned the motor up to 3 so I had to do less effort. The route was OK but there were lots of traffic lights so we were constantly stopping and starting.
Eventually we were out of Neuss and we saw the first signs of Kreis Viersen – the car number plates. Then we were approaching Willich and we decided to go to Landcafé Streithof which does good cakes.
They had something on the menu called an Eis Splitter Torte which I thought might be like Grillagetorte so I ordered it. It wasn’t the same, but was nice anyway!
Klaus had a ore traditional Strawberry Quark Cake.
As we decided to have a second round of tea/coffee I decided my meringuey cake wasn’t enough to fill me up after the tiring riding so I had a Fruits of the Forest Mascarpone cake too!
After a fairly long stop I felt refreshed enough for the last 20km. I followed Klaus through the Hoxhöfe route (which I find a bit twisty and turny for the Milan, but it avoids main roads) and we eventually rolled up outside our house at 17:30pm. It had been a long, long ride as our average speed was low.
We were welcomed by Poppy the dog whose hair had grown very long and who now looked like a teddy bear!
The tour was finished! Although it’s great being on holiday, we are both also happy at home and I was very pleased to be reunited with my shower and the washing machine.
Here are the statistics for all the rides on this tour:
And here is the ‘wheel’ showing where we went:
We have had a great time visiting friends and seeing other parts of Germany. We both find the journey between Kempen and Koblenz a bit of a chore so in the future would prefer to hire a van to take us to Koblenz and start from there, and the same for the return trip. We were both also impressed by Klaus’s climbing ability in a loaded Quattrovelo. He enjoyed it, although we both felt that the hot weather made it a bit harder sometimes. We also agreed that the shorter days we mostly had on this trip were a good idea because of the heat or possible rain – it’s a holiday, after all, not an endurance event.
Once again, two weeks spent in Klaus’s company the whole time, trundling our way around Germany. We had a great time, we make a great partnership and we are looking forward to our bike tour to England in September. Watch this space!
Despite the heat last night we slept well. It was very quiet up the valley out of Bacharach.
Breakfast would be served at 8 so we decided to get ourselves completely ready and cycle down to breakfast (in the hotel in Bacharach) and to head off on the road after breakfast without returning to the guest house.
The velomobiles had spent the night in the garage with a 5 litre Mustang for company, but we got them out in the fresh air.
As you can see, the Guest House is quite small but had six rooms and we found it fine. The price was fair and the breakfast was also good.
After breakfast I brushed my teeth and then it was time to set off on our journey to Drachenfels, the penultimate day of the tour.
We were effectively retracing our route of Sunday week ago so we knew what the road surfaces were like and how long it would probably take us. We were in no rush, and the only difference was that we knew there weren’t many good food opportunities near Drachenfels (all a bit pricey) so we would pop into a supermarket in Bad Honnef and buy salads for dinner.
It was a beautiful day for cycling, temperature around 21 degrees and a blue sky. There was also a bit of wind that was refreshing.
We were back on the Castles & Wine route.
We were also riding mostly on the cycle path as it is good and wide here, although we did have to overtake some wobbly cyclists on a more narrow bit. We also kept overtaking two different chaps on bikes, and then we would stop for photos and they would leapfrog us again, only for us to catch up with them a bit down the road.
We had to stop for photos of course.
I’m looking cheerful below!
We rode through Oberwesel, Loreley, St Goar, Bad Salzig, Boppard (where I took a wrong turn and we had some fiddly stuff to get back onto the route), Spay and then as we approached Brey I noticed this rather familiar sight!
From Brey we left the cycle path and went on the road, as on the outward trip. This avoids the appalling cobbles in Rhens. We were then following the path beside the B9 into Koblenz, occasionally actually riding on the road. This does seem to be a good way into/through Koblenz, although once again we did a detour to find cake.
The detour (led by me) ended up beside the Rhein as I thought that was the best spot to find somewhere to eat. We found a lovely looking beer garden but they only opened at 11 (it was 10:40) and the lady was quite unfriendly about it. I didn’t fancy waiting 20 minutes.
So we rode on along the Rhein, I accidentally went onto the pedestrian (not cycle) bit which ended up with some steps, so I had to get out and push. I noticed that the lift handle rope on the back of Millie has partly dislodged the rear brake light. I was a bit concerned about this when Anna fitted the rope; for the short-term I stuck the brake light down with some Leukotape but I will make a longer rope holder so it doesn’t bang on the brake.
Eventually I found a decent café and we had a very friendly waiter who chatted to us about cycling, once he had provided us with the crepe and Käsekuchen of course!
There were lots of barriered sections, it turns out there would be a marathon run a bit later in the day. We were lucky we had missed the closure of the cycle paths!
After about an hour’s break we headed onward, crossing the Mosel. Klaus was nearly taken out by a guy riding the wrong way along the cycle path and completely not looking where he was going. It was a pretty close thing! It’s not that Emily is hard to spot. The guy, when Klaus pointed out he was on the wrong cycle path, compounded his error by placing his bike in the road (on the wrong side of the road). He should just have slowly ridden/wheeled along the pedestrian section of that bridge. His wife was following him too, let’s hope they made it over the Mosel alive.
We then rode through Neuendorf where I holidayed three or four years ago, then made our way to the Koblenz industrial estate. This had been a fast bit of the route on the Sunday when we came through heading to Bodensee, but on a Friday morning it was a rather different kettle of fish. It was very busy and not very relaxing! We used the cycle paths as much as possible but they were pretty bumpy, although the roads too were in a bad state. There were a few dangerous junctions with poor visibility when using the cycle path and crossing a main road. We survived, but it wasn’t very relaxing!
This industrial estate section avoids a bend in the Rhein and going through Sankt Sebastian, Kaltenengers and Urmitz. However, on a busy day it might be better to do the longer route as it would be more picturesque and peaceful!
We rode through and then headed around Andernach. This was fairly fast, but one day I will have to properly visit Andernach as I think it is a rather nice town. All we got to see was the historical city walls!
We rode through Namedy and then Brohl. Between Namedy and Brohl we had to go under the railway again. Klaus went first, as there is a 90 degree blind bend to go up the other side. It was much nicer for me as I knew he would have informed anyone coming that I was on my way. I almost got round the bend in one go too!
From Brohl we headed to Bad Breisig; we had stayed here four years ago and I haves also stayed here at other times, but always taken the cycle path on the riverside. Our track routed us along the main road which was good on the way out but we missed a turning under the railway and so ended up having to go a long way parallel to the railway on the ‘wrong’ side and eventually having to climb up a bit as the road swooped over the town to cross the railway. As Klaus said, a few extra metres of climbing is OK!
By this point our GPS track was right on the riverside cycle path, so all we had to do was make our way there. We could see roads leading to the river on our Garmins but it’s not always so easy! The first road Klaus pedalled down… no luck, stairs at the end to the cycle path. The next road I was ahead and looked down – no, there was clearly a handrail for a staircase. The third road looked more hopeful as it actually had a cycle path sign pointing that way. So I headed down it, although it was Schotter (compacted earth/stones, not asphalt).
At the bottom was a 90 degree bend…
Spot the hand rail in the picture above. But Klaus had also seen some kind of slope… yes, there was a way down to the cycle path for bicycles.
This was a very steep slope with the bonus that if you completely lost control of the Velomobile it would go for a swim in the Rhein. It was very tough for Klaus with Emily’s weight (luggage) as she wanted to roll down faster than he could safely walk with cleats. My rope on the back of Millie was very good in this situation, but it’s tough to walk down such steep slopes with SPD Click Shoes.
But we made it back onto the path and it was time to carry on.
We passed these cormorants sunning their wings – on the SPEZI tour four years ago Klaus got the nickname Cormorant because of his black waterproofs when he stuck his arms out. He also on that tour got the nickname Mr Grumpy which has stuck rather more!
I’ve done this path loads of times, but it’s much quicker in a velomobile. It’s also much bumpier – as Klaus said, you feel a bit seasick going over all the tree roots, falling down the potholes and being vibrated by the brick or cobbled surfaces from time to time.
There was this nice bridge though where the river Ahr joins the Rhein.
The next town was Remagen and we had decided to stop there for a spot of lunch. We found a café and sat down, enjoying a warm lunch and a chance for a cuppa. Shockingly the restaurant didn’t have any cakes for dessert!
We remembered the Drängelgitter at the end of Remagen from our journey in the other direction so didn’t get into the velomobiles before negotiating this obstacle.
We had only 12 or so km to ride, it was 3 in the afternoon and getting pretty warm. From here I could see the Drachenfels mountain and also the ferry that we would take from Rolandseck to cross the Rhein.
We arrived at the ferry and I noticed I was reflected in the windows of the bridge/cockpit at the top.
This ferry is good value!
The guys taking the money said to us, “did you make it to Bodensee?” They had remembered us from our journey last week. We told them we had indeed.
In Bad Honnef we stopped at a Netto and bought some salads, bread, olives, Vla and chocolate for dinner. Very healthy! We then rode the final 4km to Drachenfels, arriving again at the Weingut Pieper. And hooray, today we didn’t need to wash our clothes as tomorrow we will be home!
Here are the statistics for today.
Klaus from Köln had told us about a very good old bakery in Rhöndorf, Café Profittlich, so I decided to walk there for a cuppa and perhaps cake (I hadn’t had a cake today). But when I got there, almost an hour before closing time, they said they were closing early due to the heat. So no cake.
I walked back past all the vineyards – the grapes are starting to show!
I also noticed outside our room a facsimile of an old map. North isn’t quite north on it (the top is more north-west) but it was interesting to see Kempen and some other place names that we know, but others spelled very differently (Murs for Moers, Stralen for Straelen, Lyn for Linn, Duysburg for Duisburg etc etc).
We ate our salad sitting out on the balcony and enjoyed the restfulness of this guest house.
Tomorrow we are trailblazing a new route as we didn’t fancy doing the same ride back again. We will take the risk of riding along the Rhein to Köln and will then head home from there. Perhaps we will try to get a photo of the velomobiles in front of the Kölner Dom, although on a Saturday morning with tourists everywhere it might be a bit of a challenge! But we should be early-ish so hopefully the cycle paths won’t be completely chockablock. The route was planned using the online software Komoot so we will see how it copes with velomobiles and their limitations!
We’ve been talking a lot about touring and the differences with velomobile touring and trike touring. We cover much more ground with velomobiles, most days being at least 100km, some days up to 150. With the trikes 100km was the maximum and we were usually around 70-80. But in some ways trike touring gives you more opportunities – you can ride on more cycle paths, there are fewer issues with parking (partly because the bikes themselves aren’t so expensive if something goes wrong), and you probably see more due to the slower speed, plus you are able to chat more easily. We are both still a bit deafened from the wind noise in our ears from fast cycling. I think we can both imagine in a few years’ time touring again on trikes for that different feel. It also helps that you can get a train one way and so don’t need to do a round trip but can do a straight line!
But we have really enjoyed our tour so far, over 1500km with another 100km tomorrow.
We didn’t have such a great night’s sleep as it was so hot. The fan had a 2 hour timer and switched off after that; I woke up twice and switched it back on, and Klaus did it once in the night too.
I woke at 5am as an alarm went off, a kind of recurring trumpet fanfare which sou ded for a minute and then paused for 10 minutes. I couldn’t sleep through it so sat outside in the little courtyard that was cooler. It wasn’t till 6:30am that someone switched it off. Very antisocial, although fortunately Klaus was able to sleep through it.
We had our breakfast early and then the hotel manager helped us get the Velomobiles out of the laundry room. Fortunately the day was a lot cooler so the ride ahead of us was more appealing.
Our route for the day started through Klaus’s old stomping ground.
He grew up in Einhausen and went to school in Lorsch and we passed through both of these towns in the first 15km of our tour.
On our way to Lorsch we saw another Velomobile on the other side of the road. It was a white Evo K with red markings on the side, and the guy waved at us, but we don’t know who he is.
In Lorsch we took a minor detour so we could visit the Kloster that I visited last month during Klaus’s class reunion. This time we were there under our own muscle power though! (Well, a bit of battery power for me too).
The sun was rather low as it was 8am so it was tricky to get some good photos. Here is photographer Klaus.
Several groups of schoolchildren walked past whilst we were talking our pictures and they all screamed and chattered excitedly about the weird bikes. We just enjoyed a five minute break.
Our route for the beginning of today was on Landstraßen and Klaus didn’t really know how busy they would be. In fact they were fine, not too much traffic at all, and we were able to make progress at a good speed. We averaged 31k./h for the first 55km.
We saw several storks today, including one nest with two parents and a very scruffy-looking fledgling. We also saw a deer running through a wheat field away from us. But mostly we were out in the countryside with a decent road quality.
After Lorsch and Einhausen we rode through Groß-Rohrheim and then Gernsheim, where we saw the Rhein again. We also saw, in the distance, the hills that we would be riding alongside as we started along the Rhein valley at Wiesbaden.
We were zooming along, riding through Biebesheim, Stockstadt and Riedstadt. We next arrived in Trebur after 55km of riding (with just a couple of wrong turns) and we decided to stop at a bakery for cake.
Tea and cake both eaten, we carried on again. We were both feeling good and pleased to be making so much progress – we only had another 65km to go and it was just 9:30 in the morning.
We rode onwards. I had already noticed a lot of Opel cars around and then saw the signs to Rüsselsheim where they are built, so that made sense!
Some of the roads we were riding along had cycle paths but we tended not to use them as we were so fast, plus there were hardly any cars overtaking us anyway.
This changed a bit as we approached Mainz. The traffic was heavier and it would probably have been good to use the cycle path but it was tricky to get to as we rode through Bischofsheim and in the end we crossed the River Main on the main road, riding in Mainz-Kostheim and Mainz-Kastel, although the main city of Mainz was the other side of the Rhein.
From here we were back on our outgoing route, riding along the river past Wiesbaden, through Schierstein, and then many of the little villages that we have passed on several tours. Walluf, where we stayed on our second night of this tour; Eltville, where we stayed on our SPEZI tour four years ago, Erbach, Hattenheim. With the railway to our right and the B42 to our left, we cycled along this wine region enjoying the sunshine and that it was not quite as hot as yesterday.
We rode into Oestrich-Winkel and then we were heading for Rüdesheim. I decided we should stop for ice cream in Rüdesheim and so stopped at a likely-looking place on the river front. We had some very good value ice creams!
We had plenty of time so also had a cup of tea/coffee whilst we relaxed a bit after our 95km of speedy riding.
We then crossed directly to Bingen, and of course lots of people on the ferry were asking us about the velomobiles.
It’s always good fun crossing the Rhein!
Although this crossing is a bit pricier than OST.
Our outward track on this journey took us on the main road between Bacharach and Bingen but we had ended up using part of the Rhein Radweg right next to the river. I had ridden this several times before and remembered it being not too bad, so I suggested to Klaus that we took this route rather than the road. I could remember it, and it was signposted, but I had also prepared a track for our Garmins last night.
So we came straight off the ferry and turned right onto the cycle path which we followed the entire way to Bacharach. Which was very convenient, and as it was a Thursday there weren’t too many tourists either.
We stopped for a look at the Rhein and Klaus got out two blankets from Emily (to use when she has a puncture and you have to lay her on her side) so we could sit on them, but I got too hot within a few minutes and so we had to give up on that plan. I am also a bit paranoid about ticks, and have found three walking on my arms/legs since I have been in Germany (fortunately not having yet attached themselves to me), so I am a bit reluctant to sit on the grass now.
So we got up again and carried on riding.
The Rhein valley in this area (Bingen to Trechtinghausen to Bacharach, Loreley, St Goar, Boppard etc) is narrow and has a busy road and a railway line squeezed into the narrow valley. The cycle path is also there. Here is Klaus racing a train.
This is also the section of Rhein valley where you can always see at least one castle.
The Radweg was mostly very good, but one of the latter sections did have a bit of a problem for me. There were various drainage channels built across the path, and these were mostly asphalt without too steep a dip, but o the final section between Rheindiebach and Bacharach they instead made very deep ones with cobbles. Fortunately the cobbles were a lighter colour so you could see them in advance, if they weren’t masked by the light and shade pattern of neighbouring trees.
Here is Klaus gingerly crossing one of these.
Millie crunched rather noisily each time I went over one of these. It rather makes one wince to hear the sound! The key is to go as slowly as possible, but not so slowly that you get stuck nose-first into one of these things. I think Millie’s underbody got a bit more remodelling today, but that’s life.
We arrived in Bacharach and made our way to the Hotel Burg Stahleck where we would collect the keys for our Guest House. It was good that we knew this in advance as the Guest House was 400 metres up a hill!
The staff of Hotel Burg Stahleck were really friendly. We had booked the smallest room but the chap gave us a free upgrade as he said the Guesthouse wasn’t very booked tonight. Our room ended up being a very decent size, and we had access to a balcony/terrace area where we hung our clothing after washing it in the shower. In the heat and with the wind it all dried very efficiently.
Here are our statistics for today’s ride:
Here is the entire route so far:
After a bit of a rest we headed down into Bacharach again. It’s a beautiful village with lots of interesting buildings.
Lots of the houses have German phrases painted onto them. They are very attractive!
Our destination was Hotel Burg Stahleck again as when collecting the key I had spotted their cake display case…
I had this nice cake.
Klaus went for this mango cream one.
After our cake and (naturally) tea, we walked the short distance to the Rhein and sat on a bench for a good hour, watching the ships and barges go past.
We really enjoyed the time just sitting, chatting and enjoying the view of the river and all the different boats.
Then it was time for dinner. Klaus enjoyed some local wine.
I had a very tasty pork steak.
Klaus had Rinderroulade with Rotkraut.
At least half the other guests at this restaurant were American. I wonder if a tour boat had docked for the night at Bacharach.
I was also interested in the menu’s translation of the different words Kuchen and Torte.
For me, ‘pie’ is more likely to be savoury (“meat pie”, “shepherd’s pie”), although an Apple Pie is of course an exception.
After our very nice meal we walked back to our Guest House. The sun was shining on the castle at the top of the hill beside the mini valley on the way to our Guest House.
Tomorrow we ride back to Drachenfels, staying again at the vineyard. It’s a ride of 100km so should be very easy. Breakfast is late tomorrow, starting at 8:00, so we won’t be on the road as early. But we have plenty of time for the 100km and we know the route!
We were so tired last night that we went to bed at 8:30pm. Our cunning plan to leave really early this morning was foiled by the fact we woke up first at 6:30am. More than nine hours’ sleep each was very refreshing!
Despite waking a bit later than planned, we were still ready to head out at 7:15.
Emily had spent the night in the shed.
Millie had been hiding under the main outer staircase to the front door of the house. Pretty much in view for all who went past, but the alarm didn’t sound at all.
Here was our route for today:
And here the elevation profile – a bit of a hill to start with, then a mega downhill and the rest pretty much flat.
It was already warm as we set off, trundling our way from Gündelbach to Schützingen to Zaisersweiher. The road we were on was a bit busier than last night – I guess some commuter traffic – and we were causing a bit of a hold-up at times, but there was no cycle path we could use instead.
We then started climbing up the hill from Diefenbach to Sternenfels.
The climb was about 100 metres in total but didn’t seem too bad. We had considered stopping at the top as I knew there was a bakery but in the end I decided it would be better to stop after the downhill as that would cool us down anyway.
The downhill from Sternenfels to Oberderdingen was brilliant! It was a relatively smooth road with a few curves but nothing too sharp, so we could just let the velomobiles roll until our bravery ran out. I hit a top speed of just under 85 Kim/h and Klaus made it to 89. Both velomobiles were steady as a rock and very easy to control.
Having ridden a massive 16km it was time for breakfast in the bakery.
Klaus breakfasted on a piece of cake.
It was very hot in the bakery so we didn’t linger after eating our food.
Back outside again we checked the front of both velomobiles and we had several dead insects plastered onto the bikes’ noses.
Pretty much the rest of our tour would now be flat, with just a minor hill or two tomorrow on the way to Bacharach.
From Oberdingen we rode to Flehingen, this time on a cycle path beside the main road.
We were heading to the Kreichtal and in Gochsheim rode around some buildings on a bit of a hill. We then rode to Münzesheim and out the other side to Unteröwisheim. We had a mixture of riding on the road and riding on cycle paths.
In Unteröwisheim we were cycle on the road through the town when a lady from a side rode failed to stop and stuck the nose of her car right in front of Klaus. He made a speedy evasive manoeuvre and managed to avoid hitting her (she also slammed on the brakes). I was behind him and saw it all – it was incredibly close. The woman just pulled straight out of a side road without looking. I said some choice things to her as her window was down, but we carried on as there were cars behind us. In a normal bike that would have been a serious accident as the rider would have gone over the handlebars and onto the car bonnet. Plus in a Versatile or other high centre of gravity Velomobile it might have rolled. Good that we are in such safe, well-planted Velomobiles!
Once we were out of the town and able to park on a cycle path, Klaus took a few minutes to calm down his heart rate and recover from the shock.
I have to say, I find that German drivers tend to ride at full tilt to a junction and then brake really hard. As a cyclist passing this junction on the main road, it’s scary as you never know if they will stop. In the UK I think drivers tend to brake earlier for the junction, but perhaps this is just an impression I have and is not correct. Whatever, it means that when we are riding on main roads we give a wide berth to each side road, and in this case it saved Klaus an accident, had he been riding in the gutter.
At Ubstadt-Weiher our route turned more northwards and followed the Bundesstraße 3, although we found cycle paths for almost all of it last night when double-checking the route. These cycle paths were mostly OK, but the one below was a bit sub-optimal.
We had decided to ride a long way before stopping so zoomed through Bad Schönborn, carrying on along the B3 until we turned off to Rot. We passed Kreuz Walldorf, the motorway crossing of the A5 and A6 in comfort on our cycle path.
From Walldorf we rode to Sandhausen which had roadwork which necessitated us turning round (we couldn’t get through them) and doing a fiddly detour to rejoin our track.
After this we were on a cycle path which then took us away from the L598 that we should have continued cycling along and instead towards Leimen, where we didn’t want to go. We had to turn around again and go on the main road; I was slightly concerned about this as there was a police car stationed back at the traffic lights dealing with a minor traffic bump and I thought she might have something to say about us riding on the road, but I was able to shield myself from view beside a car transporter and zoomed along the short distance of Landstraße before we turned off.
We were now on a very rural bit of road…
So it was time to stop in the shade of a tree to have some more water, to pour some water over our heads and to generally relax for a bit. In the photograph below you can see Heidelberg in the distance.
We rode to the west of Heidelberg but did pass the old runway of the military airport. Klaus wondered if I wanted to stop to take a photo but I was so hot now that stopping was not appealing. At least when underway there is a breeze in the Velomobile; when we stopped now under the midday sun it was just baking hot!
We passed Pfaffengrund and Wieblingen and then got our first glimpse of the Neckar river for today. We rode through Edingen-Neckarhausen and in Neckarhausen we crossed the railway bridge on a cycle path beside it.
We didn’t have far to go, it was baking hot with a wind from the Sahara, so we pedalled onward through Heddesheim, where more roadworks involved a diversion, and then arrived in Viernheim. Just before Viernheim there was a bridge over the Bundesautobahn 659, and the cycle path crossing was quite complicated. Doubly-so when we realised the lights just weren’t changing for us. There was a button we should press but we had no way of reaching it, and Klaus had already crossed to the first traffic island anyway when there was nothing coming. I was waiting for him to move on to the next traffic island before I crossed (there was room for only one Velomobile per traffic island) but he had no chance.
Then I saw a chap on a bike riding towards me and asked him to press the button, which he did. Fortunately then the lights changed for Klaus and we were able to cross and ride the last 500 metres to our hotel. I felt like my head had been baked, sitting for what felt like 8 or 9 minutes at a traffic crossing.
Today was a shorter day and with the wicked temperatures that was very fortunate. We arrived at Hotel Tenne at 12:30pm having ridden 88km.
The hotel had building work going on but said they could store our bikes inside – they ended up in the Waschküche (laundry area).
The hotel manager offered us a drink and then said he had three rooms to offer. One was a large room with a balcony; the second was a smaller room on two floors, also with balcony but with the bedroom in the roof; the third choice was a very small room with no balcony and two separate single beds, but he said this was the coolest room. So we went for that one! It had the advantage of being almost next to where the bikes were being stored so we would hear the alarms if they went off.
The hotel manager also offered to wash our clothes for us in their washing machine and we gladly took him up on this offer. With the hot and sweaty riding we have not been able to get our cycling kit really clean by hand washing, so we hope a proper hotel washing machine can get the sweat stains out of Mr Grumpy’s shirt.
My weather app showed us the temperature today and for the next few days
34-37 degrees is just too hot, and although our room was cooler and had a oscillating fan, we decided we needed to find some air conditioning so we walked the five minutes too the Rhein Neckar Zentrum, a shopping centre, for some lunch.
Klaus had the Birne-Helene cake, I had a filled roll and later a meringue. We also had to buy Klaus another drink. He works much harder in Emily in the heat than I have to in Millie, plus he is less able to tolerate the real heat, so he has drunk gallons of liquid today and felt pretty pooped due to the heat.
We returned to our hotel to sit worshipping at the oscillating fan and to wait for the evening when we would go out for a meal with Klaus’s father. The original plan was to cycle the 11km to the restaurant but Klaus’s father instead offered to pick us up by car and we gladly accepted – we’d had enough of being outside in this heat!
He took us to a nice Italian restaurant at Karlstern and we ate well. When he dropped us back at the hotel we introduced him to the velomobiles – he has heard a or about them!
Tomorrow we have 120km to Bacharach, but the temperature should be less than today, maybe up to 31. We hope so as the weather as it is now is Just Too Hot!
This is a map of our entire tour so far… we have almost joined up with our outgoing route, and will do so tomorrow in Wiesbaden.
Our plan was to leave early this morning to try to beat the worst of the hot weather, and this was pretty successful as we breakfasted at 06:30 and were out of the door by 07:10. However we had the traditional 10 minutes’ explanation about velomobiles to some of the other hotel guests who were enjoying their breakfasts and had plenty of time to ask us questions.
Today would be our highest climbing at 700 metres plus, and with the hot weather this could be a challenge.
Here is our route for the day:
This was a route prepared using software tools and without local knowledge and this showed a little at times when we were routed along roads that might have been best avoided.
The elevation profile of day had four major hills – and the hardest came first.
After a relatively easy initial few kilometres through Göppingen, we turned north towards Rechberghausen.
Here was a slow trundle up the hill, aiming at those houses you can see in the distance.
I overtook Klaus as he was using his Schlumpf and stopped at the top, looking back down over the road I had cycled up from the valley below.
We wound our way through the streets of Rechberghausen catching our breath and then there was a little more climbing – but we could tell when we were reaching the top!
What goes up must eventually come down, but first we rode along a slightly shady woodland section.
We rode through Börtlingen and then Breech and then started our downhill towards Schorndorf. At the top of this downhill we passed a roadie cyclist and then zoomed away from him down the 4km descent. We weren’t as fast today with our descending, we were both using the brakes quite a bit as we knew the descent ended in a town and we wanted to be going slow enough for that!
I took a wrong turn in Schorndorf when negotiating a series of junctions, and took the opportunity to replace my hat whilst stationary. I had removed it before the big downhill so it didn’t blow away, but without the baseball cap visor it is a bit tricky to read the Garmin in the bright sunlight. That’s my excuse for taking a wrong turn!
We rejoined the road and crossed over a roundabout onto a quiet path, at which point the roadie caught us up again. This time he asked about what motors we had, and I told him Klaus didn’t have one.
We left him behind us again and then found ourselves riding along a cycle path on a reasonably busy road when… ping! It disappeared!
So we both got out, dragged the bikes down the kerb (there was no dropped kerb of course), crossed the road and carried on along the cycle path on that side.
We went past Winterbach and then arrived at Geradstetten. I had a waypoint in my Garmin for a bakery and at the last minute saw it on the left hand side of the road (I had expected it on the right). I quickly turned left to park and rolled about 10 metres down a ‘no entry’ road (there was nothing coming the other way). I got out, and Klaus who had parked near me also got out, a lady outside started berating me for riding down a ‘no entry’. I said “I saw it at the last minute, and normally bikes are allowed down No Entry ways anyway” but she carried on complaining, then said “is this a bike??” And I said “Yes”, but she still went on and on moaning. In the end Klaus just said (in German) “give it a rest!” And we went into the bakery. These sort of busybody things are just annoying – she was just a lady who had driven to the bakery to buy bread rolls.
Anyway, we had a cake and a tea and relaxed a bit.
As we were leaving I spoke to two ladies who had been sitting on a bench outside the café the whole time. I said “I am cycling the right way now!” And they laughed.
We had some more hills to do, and the day was warming up, so we were pleased we had made such an early start.
We rode through Remshalden (we were following the Rems valley at this point) and then it was time to move over to the next valley, the Neckar valley. This included of course climbing out of one valley and descending to the next.
We rode through Grossheppach and Kleinheppach, slowly winding our way up the hill, but this was easier than the first hill today. We then rode through Korb and then briefly on a track alongside the B14 before crossing that major road and heading to Schwaikheim.
As I was waiting at traffic lights before Schwaikheim a police car pulled out in front of me. Klaus was already ahead on the road and we had a reasonably fast downhill of about 2km with some bends. When Klaus arrived in Schwaikheim he pulled onto the pavement to wait for me. The police car which was right in front of me pulled in in front of Klaus, so I stopped behind them both.
The two policemen got out but they really only wanted to ask us what these vehicles were. Klaus explained they were bikes, and the police seemed satisfied although they said they were a bit low down. I said that the higher ones were not as stable on the corners due to the higher centre of gravity, so not so safe; no idea if they thought anything of this answer. But they headed onward, and so did we.
From here we rode to Bittenfeld and Hochdorf (another climb) before descending to Poppenweiler.
There were warnings that there were road closures in Poppenweiler but of course we didn’t know if this would affect us. Indeed it did, but we were able to cycle along the footpath for the 100m of road works and got through the blockage.
From Poppenweiler we found ourselves on the L1100 which was actually a very busy road. We were pedalling as fast as we could but there was no cycle path and the road had unforgiving walls to our right as it was built into the side of the valley.
Fortunately after a couple of kilometres we crossed over the river Neckar on a bridge and then were down a very quiet road where I had already identified a Biergarten. So we stopped and had a Radler (Klaus) and ice cream (me) whilst looking at the Neckar.
The day was warming up even further and the beer garden, although originally almost empty, began to fill up. We had left the bikes in the shade but when we came back to them, the shade-producing van had left and they were in the sun again. So we got in as soon as possible and got underway to try to cool down again – it was 30 degrees now.
We had another climb up to Freiberg, again on a cycle path beside the road. The path quality wasn’t very good but it was preferable to the road which had a fair number of cars. From the path we could look down over the landscape before us.
We rode towards Ingetsheim and then to Bietigheim where we crossed the Enz river (this has been a day of multiple rivers).The route out of Bietigheim was a bit horrible but fortunately we found a cycle path. Which then suddenly disappeared, and we had to ride on the L1125.
This was a horrible road with lots of traffic and VERY impatient motorists. We were riding as fast as we could but it was a light uphill over several kilometres so we were struggling to make 30 km/h. It felt like half the motorists who overtook hooted their horns at us, and I had one punishment pass from an Opel Mokka. Do they not realise that if there were a cycle path we would happily have used it? We didn’t know at the time of any alternative route we could take. So we gritted our teeth and rode as fast as we could until we were able to get off the road at Sachsenheim. We will definitely avoid this road if we are in the area again!
We rode into Sersheim and at last knew we were nearing our destination. The charm of the riding had worn off a bit as it was mega hot, we were on busy main roads a lot of the time now and we just wanted to jump into a cold shower!
From Sersheim we were on a quieter road to Horrheim where I had put a waypoint to visit the Penny Markt to buy some dinner. The village of Gündelbach where we were staying tonight didn’t have any restaurants, so rather than ordering pizza for delivery we decided to buy something at the supermarket. I had studied the photos of our Ferienwohnung closely and it seemed there was no oven, just a hob, so we took that into account and bought salads and bread.
Now we just had 4km to ride which was a relief! We pootled our way towards Gündelbach and found our apartment, which was blessedly cool! We unpacked the bikes and had some cold drinks followed by a cold shower. Klaus was feeling pretty pooped after all this climbing on such a hot day, so it was good to know we didn’t have to do anything else today. He also has a mega impressive arm tan now:
Although only riding 90km it was quite hard work!
We washed the clothes and hung them on a jury-rigged washing line and then simply relaxed. We had arrived at 2pm and enjoyed doing nothing for the rest of the afternoon before having an early dinner, phoning chum Jochen for a chat (who is off to Velomobiel.nl tomorrow with a broken Strada) and making some changes to our track for tomorrow. We have realised that it routes us on a Bundesstraße and a close look at the satellite view showed cycle paths on one or the other side, so we have adjusted the track so we know where the cycle path is – from the low vantage point of a velomobile you can’t always see the cycle path when there is high grass around and we didn’t want to miss it.
Tomorrow we ride back to the Rhein valley to Viernheim, which is fairly near to Mannheim. We will see Klaus’s father for an evening meal. Tomorrow is meant to be 37 degrees in Viernheim mid-afternoon so our pan is to leave here before 7am and try to get to Viernheim by midday. It’s only 85km so should be possible, and it’s much flatter than today too. We shall see!
Here is the ‘wheel’ of where we have ridden on this tour:
We will join up with our outgoing track north of Mannheim and will take the same route back through the Rhein valley – there aren’t that many alternatives, at least not super-hilly ones. We only have three more nights on the road now, so our touring time is coming to an end. But we have 450km still to ride, so there is still time for some more impressions of life on the Velomobile cycling road!
Monday morning, but today I didn’t have to get up at 5:30am to go to work… but I got up at 5:30am so we could get on the road early.
We were ready to leave by 7am and as the Ferienwohnung didn’t offer breakfast we knew we would just pick something up on the way.
However, Uli noticed straight away she had a puncture.
She set about fixing it very quickly, during which time Klaus realised he had left his heart rate monitor in the bathroom of our Ferienwohnung but we had shut the door. Fortunately the landlady answered the doorbell and let him collect it!
Below is today’s route.
The forecast was for a much warmer day but we started in fog. Uli tells us this is fairly normal for the area around the Donau/Danube.
We rode round Bad Buchau and then through Moosburg and Alleshausen. We were on a fast, rolling terrain of quiet roads lined with arable fields and poppies. We were averaging 30 km/h.
We rode through Oberstadion and Unterstadion and as Rottenacker was a reasonably large town I decided we could stop there for breakfast, as it was at the 28km mark. Our total ride today should be around 100km.
We crossed the Danube into Rottenacker and then my usual ability to find food in German towns failed me, mainly because I couldn’t see the church so was unable to identify the town centre. Uli led us up a hill and eventually we found a supermarket; I asked a local lady if there was a café anywhere and she said only the bakery which was attached the the supermarket. So we went in there.
Our Bakery breakfast was a filled roll.
This was a ‘Stehcafe’ (which means no seats) and so, as I suspected, there were no public loos. Fortunately the bakery lady took pity on me and let me use their staff loo.
I took this photo of Uli’s DF – the Schwabenpower lettering makes sense as she is powering her way around the Schwäbische Alb.
After our breakfast (which of course included a cup of tea) we set off again, but this time all the fog had gone and instead we had blue sky.
The route was again rolling and this works well with our speedy velomobiles.
At Ehingen we stopped riding beside the Danube/Donau and instead turned more north, taking a quiet road parallel to the B492.
At Berkach we saw huge numbers of cranes – Uli explained that this is something to do with Liebherr.
We rode through Allmendigen and then beside the railway to Schmiechen.
Before Schmiechen there were some cycle path closed signs but as we didn’t know of a good alternative we carried on – you can usually get through the blockage.
The blockage was a road being resurfaced, but we saw a possible diversion on our Garmins and went for it. This diversion was successful but it involved us getting up a seemingly 20% climb for about 50 metres. We all sensibly decided to push our velomobiles up this slope. This was OK for Uli and I but for Klaus, trying to push the heavy Quattrovelo up this slope with click shoes was a bit of a challenge!
We made it to the top and got back in the bikes to roll down to Schelklingen.
We were now on nicer roads on our way to Blaubeuren which had ‘Blautopf’ which Uli said we should visit. We had also done a route adjustment yesterday evening as she said we were riding up a massive hill on a very busy road, and so suggested an alternative quieter route, just 4km more. The hills in the picture below are what we would have to cycle over!
We arrived in Blaubeuren and Uli suggested an ice cream. I parked Millie beside this sign that says “do not lean bicycles against this wall”. I complied with this command.
It was getting really warm now so the ice cream was nice!
We walked a short way up the hill to see Blautopf, which turns out to be a smallish lake which is an incredible blue colour.
The blue comes from the limestone dissolved in the water. You can read about it on Wikipedia. There is also a large network of caves leading from here which have been variously explored and there was information about this at Blautopf.
Our bikes were waiting patiently for us beside the hammer mill whilst we walked around the lake, but it was time to carry on – we had the massive hill to climb!
Before we set off Uli dipped her baseball cap in the water to cool her head and also removed the inspection cover from the front of the DF to give more air flow. And then we headed off to the start of our climb – this hill straight in front in the picture below is the one we had to climb. We would be climbing 200 metres in height over 2 kilometres’ distance, so a 10% average.
Here is the elevation diagramme from the whole ride. The climb after Blautopf was at about 2 hours of riding.
My two companions selected their low gear (using the Schlumpf) and started winding their way up the hill. My lowest gear is MUCH higher, so I set my motor onto level 4 of 5 and simply glided up the hill, passing them. Klaus had his lid open for more airflow – at 5 km/h the drag from this is negligible!
There was a lay-by halfway up so I paused there to let them catch up. Once they had passed I carried on, again having to go a lot faster as I could not ride at their slow pace as my gears were too high. A mixture of setting 3 and 4 on the motor got me to the top still feeling pretty fresh!
I didn’t have to wait long for the other two as they made good progress but were both very warm by the top, the village of Sonderbuch. Fortunately we now rode along the top of the ridge and we had a bit of speed to cool the sweat.
Our original route plan had us joining the Landstraße L1230 but Uli suggested we stayed on the quieter roads to the east of this, we followed her until Berghülen where we had to join the Landstraße. We said goodbye to Uli at this point as she was heading off home – it had been great to have her riding with us for the last three days, and her local knowledge in this area was really useful.
So now we were two Velomobilists again. We followed the L1230 except for a shortcut through Machtolsheim. Then at Merklingen we were able to leave this busy road for good and instead take very quiet roads through the rolling Schwäbische Alb.
This included a bridge over the Autobahn A8 which had a rather large bit of machinery right across it.
No problem for a Quattrovelo or Milan…
We were riding through arable land now, with quite a lot of muck and dirt on the road. We cycled through Nellingen and then a fast zoom to Amstetten. Klaus had told me that after Amstetten we had a really long downhill to Geislingen and he was right! We were on the B10, a busy road for this downhill, but it was tricky to stay within the 50 limit sections. We were doing up to 70 down this swoopy downhill and the car following me made no attempt to overtake. Which he shouldn’t, as then he would be speeding!
I have to say, these long downhills are great fun. The Milan is steady as a rock, the steering is reliable and comfortable, and the brakes are acceptable. More braking power would be welcome, but it’s tricky in velomobiles. Anyway, we made it down into Geislingen and stopped for some lunch at a bakery.
After lunch we did a bit of shopping. I had run out of hair conditioner (oh no!) and we also needed more toothpaste. I also wanted to buy a baseball cap as my visor leaves the top of my head liable to a bit of sunburn – the forecast is mega hot for the next few days.
We have now discovered that baseball caps are only in men’s clothing sections and usually only in dark colours. I ended up with a black one for ten Euros. Hopefully it will keep my forehead from getting browner, as lower down I am entirely sun-free due to the peak shielding me.
After Geislingen we had just 15km to ride, and this included a town made for me!
The final 200 metres of our ride was up another hill (poor Klaus!) I still had 50% battery power on my motor remaining so let the Bafang take the strain! We arrived at our Guest House having completed 107km rather than the originally-planned 100. The detours around Blaubeuren had added a bit, but it was definitely worthwhile!
Interestingly, with our room in the Guest House we didn’t have a private bathroom. This was an oversight on my part, and it’s not something I like as I tend to have to pop to the loo once or twice per night. However we were able to shower in peace and rigged up our washing line in the room. It was getting really hot in the late afternoon so all the shutters were closed to keep the sun out.
The Velomobiles will spend the night in the beer garden
Klaus has a good friend Oliver who lives in Geislingen and we had arranged for him to come and meet us for dinner. Unfortunately due to work commitments he didn’t have much time, so we ate our meal alone and he joined us later with his wife Iris. We had an enjoyable time with them and they came back to meet the velomobiles.
Tomorrow’s route is 90km but hillier than today. We are looking forward to it!
Our Sunday morning started in a very relaxed manner, with breakfast on the balcony. Last night we had bats whizzing around whilst we sat on the balcony which was lovely.
Tim suggested we left all the washing up and clearing up for him to do later, which was very kind! We aren’t very good guests as we eat everyone’s food and don’t do much in return! But of course, if ever our Velomobile friends are passing they can stay with us.
We had a few jobs to do on the velomobiles as we had Tim’s garage with tools available. Klaus pumped up all four of Emily’s tyres and I adjusted my brakes as they had got a bit loose. When everything was done it was time to head off.
This was our route for today:
The start out of Tettnang was a huge swooping downhill… which was fantastic!
I had, of course, only just adjusted my brakes so I tested them a few times gingerly on the way down to check nothing too exciting happened. I reached 78.8 km/h on this downhill but Klaus, who was braver and didn’t brake, got up to 82.4 km/h.
The route had been planned by Klaus and he had decided to route us around Ravensburg (home of the puzzles!) to avoid city riding with traffic lights and junctions, but the alternative route went up some more hills and was a bit longer. Tim warned us about the hills before we left, but the conclusion was that riding through Ravensburg would be more hassle. We would risk the hills!
It was a very good route, almost entirely on quiet roads with little traffic.
This gave me lots of opportunity to take photos – here you see our little gang with Klaus in Emily the Quattrovelo, Tim in his Evo K and Uli in her DF.
And here they all are seen in my mirror.
Klaus, Uli and I all had the track on our Garmins but Tim’s Garmin wasn’t compatible with Garmin Connect so he had not been able to load it. This meant that the lead of our convoy changed regularly. As I had a motor I was able to go faster up the hills than Klaus and Uli; Tim also has a light velomobile and is well trained in the hills so he was quick. This meant that we stopped and waited a lot of the time, and that those swooping past would take the lead. It worked well.
As you can see from the photos, the sky was a bit cloudy but the temperature was ideal for velomobile riding. It did get very hot on the climbs though, especially for my three companions who had no motor and had to work hard to climb.
We rode through Brochzell and then Appenweiler; we stayed at a place called Appenweier just a few days ago. Then we rode through Taldorf and Schmalegg. In Schmalegg there were signs for a bakery and Tim automatically headed that way; I had trained him well, but in fact the plan was to stop at a bakery/Konditorei in a village at 35km and this was 8km too early. So I astounded him by saying we could keep riding.
After Schmalegg we went down, down, down – super fast! It was good that there were few cars on the road as we were cruising down at 60 km/h and more, and at those speeds you have to really concentrate and prepare for the corners. It’s such fun though!
I was ahead at this point but started braking quite early as I could see there was a very sharp bend where we joined another road and the Milan has a very wide turning circle. In the end I was almost stationary when taking the bend. We had dropped a long way down, and as soon as I turned the corner I saw we had to go back up again!
The photo below shows this climb which I guess was the hardest one.
The picture is of Uli. Tim had needed to walk up in the end as his gearing isn’t low enough on the Evo K. Klaus and Uli both have Schlumpf Mountain Drives so were slowly spinning their way up the hill. Tim and I, being kind souls, pushed them up the last 30 metres or so!
We had to have a break at the top. The other three (without motors) were pretty sweaty as it’s hot in a velomobile when climbing. You just don’t get the airflow. For this reason I have a fan in my Velomobile but it doesn’t point at me but at my motor to cool it, as the motor gets very little cooling from the air as there is just the small gap around my head lamps as an air intake.
We rode through Strass and then Beienbach. the next village, Blitzenreute, had the café, and we duly pulled up outside it… only for the owner to tell us they were closing now. This was indeed true! What a disaster.
The lady in the café told us if we just rode down the hill to the next village there was another café which was open. This sounded like a good plan. Although our route wasn’t going that way, Tim said we could rejoin the route later and wouldn’t have to go back up the hill.
Which was a VERY good thing, as it turned out to be a really long descent with again very fast speeds. I think the total distance was about 2.5km but it was over in a flash. It was a busier road than the others we had been on today and we had some cars behind us but fortunately they didn’t seem to want to overtake us – this was a good thing as extra wind buffeting at that speed isn’t something we particularly want.
We arrived at the café in Staig, parked all four velomobiles in one parking space, and went in… Hurrah, a good choice of cakes!
We spent about an hour there with our tea and cake, and then it was time to head onward the last 30km.
Tim had ridden this way before and suggested an alternative to joining back up with our route. We were happy to follow his local knowledge.
The weather was improving all the time with blue sky. The landscape was beautiful too, so we were having a great ride.
We rode through Mochenwangen and then the wonderfully-named Preußenhäusle (if you have a tame German, get them to say that name for you). This route was actually a little less hilly than the route Klaus had originally planned, which went the other side around a hill. It was also very green with woodland both side, and evidence still of last night’s rain on the asphalt.
We rode through Zollenreute and then arrived in Aulendorf where we rejoined our track briefly before heading off again on a different route suggested by Tim that followed along the railway line.
We rode through Otterswang and then arrived in Bad Schussenried. Tim suggested an ice cream stop and we all agreed, although in the end Klaus went for a cake.
I enjoyed a banana split.
From here it was just 10km to Bad Buchau and we rode along the main road all the way. There was an uphill at the beginning which meant we were going pretty slowly – but all had a wonderful view of a red kite being mobbed by a crow. We saw lots of red kites today and the German name for them is ‘Milan’ so that rather suits my velomobile!
Right at the end, just before we reached Bad Buchau, Klaus missed a turning as his Garmin was zoomed out. He was in the lead so the other three all went off up another hill. I turned off, having hoped they had seen it. I made my way to the end of the track on my Garmin but couldn’t see our Ferienwohnung; I then realised the track just went to the centre of Bad Buchau, not right to the Ferienwohnung door, so I looked up the address and discovered it was just 700 metres away. I sent Klaus a message with the correct address in case he didn’t have it.
Just as I pulled back onto the main road I saw the others so I was able to lead the to our very nice Ferienwohnung. It was the first floor of a family house and had plenty of space and was very well-equipped, including a washing machine, hurrah. Tim decided to hang around and eat an early evening meal with us before riding the direct way back to Tettnang, so we had our showers, did our clothes washing and then walked 1.5km along a canal side-path to a Balkan restaurant that our landlady had recommended. Our food was fine and we had a lovely time sitting out in the sunshine. I was entertained by a hummingbird hawk-moth flying around a hanging basket of flowers.
We told the lady we are likely to leave early in the morning tomorrow. This is partly because the Ferienwohnung doesn’t supply breakfast but mostly because the weather is forecast to be very warm again and we have another day of climbing. The earlier we leave, the more progress we make before it gets too hot. It may even be up to 40 degrees in a few days’ time!
Here are my statistics for today:
So as you can see, not very far and not many calories, but that is mostly down to me cheating by having a motor!!! I would not have enjoyed the day at all if I hadn’t had the motor; in fact, I might not have managed it at all due to knee pain.
Tomorrow we have a longer day (100km) with almost as much climbing. We will be visited by Klaus’s friend in the evening when we reach Eislingen. I haven’t met Oliver before so that will be interesting as Klaus has talked about him a fair bit.
Tim headed home today and tomorrow we will wave goodbye to Uli who is going in a different direction. It’s been lovely to be riding with other velomobiles over the last three days and it’s worked out really well with speed and riding style. I think we stop a bit more regularly than the others might, but this is our holiday and cycle touring is also an important cake-tasting experience.
Millie and Emily both worked very well today. Klaus and Emily climb much better than we all thought – she seems to cruise OK up the hills despite her weight (some of which is my luggage of course!) and Klaus has got into his rhythm so he can pedal his way up the hills. We have two more hilly days and then we are back to the flatlands again, which is more my kind of terrain although I have loved the scenery today.