Despite the threat of rain last night it had remained dry. I woke up early as always (5:00am) and read most of the Internet before Klaus woke. We decided to go for a short walk to the Rhein before breakfast.
Just a few metres from our hotel was this bicycle ferry landing stage; I liked the fact the bike needed pigeon-proofing!
We sat on a bench for some minutes watching the river passing by and enjoying the blue sky and warm temperature. At 7am it was comfortably warm so this showed us we might get a bit hot today!
After breakfast we checked out of our hotel, packed our worldly goods back into the Velomobiles and set off on our route for the day, leaving at about 08:00.
This was our route for the day:
We made a bit of a mistake with our leaving time, as we ended up cycling through Wiesbaden and then into Mainz during the Monday morning rush hour.
Here is the bridge that crosses the Rhein between Wiesbaden and Mainz.
It was actually a bit hair-raising crossing this bridge as there were big groups of school kids walking across and they got completely fascinated by the passing velomobiles. One girl looked round after Klaus passed, looked at me and walked backwards gazing at me as I crawled along behind the group she was with. There was a hefty lady coming the other way on a bike very fast and this girl was walking right into her path. I screamed “Vorsicht!” several times and fortunately she eventually realised she should turn round and narrowly avoided an accident. There is a certain responsibility when riding velomobiles as you know you can be a distraction for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – and of course a source of great fascination to dogs!
So we were heading through Mainz on the main road during rush hour, but in the end it was OK as it was fairly fast – not too many traffic lights, so once we got up to speed (35-40) we weren’t holding up the traffic flow too much.
Today’s track was one sent to us by chum TimB who regularly rides this route on his way from home near Bodensee to relatives in Bonn. We will in fact be staying with TimB later on this trip.
When we looked at his route before setting off today it was clear that he was going for speed and efficiency – lots of the track was on the B9. We were following his route but sometimes taking the cycle path when Tim had presumably been on the road. Which meant we ended up in this situation just outside Mainz:
Here is a close up of Klaus who had chosen the correct cycling jersey for today.
In fact, this jersey ended up being extremely apt as over the course of today Klaus discovered that Emily’s bearings have started squeaking again. This was the issue that was repaired by Velomobiel.nl two weeks ago. Emily has only cycled 500km since, and yet the problem (slight elements of the axle out of true) has happened again. This was very depressing news as we had hoped to be at the end of problems with Emily, who has had to go back for repair 5 times in the 7.200km he has ridden in her.
Anyway, there was nothing we could do about the bearings going wrong again, and at least we knew this wasn’t something that would catastrophically break over the course of our tour. So we had to keep going.
Tim’s route had suggested riding on the B9 at the point where our cycle path ran out, but neither Klaus or I fancied this as it was a very busy road at that time of morning. I guess Tim is usually riding it during a quieter time of day!
We had ridden this side of the Rhein on our SPEZI tour so decided to try and find that route, which we knew was more up in the vineyards on the hillside. So we turned around, crossed the railway and headed into the unknown. Well, not exactly unknown, as we each had Garmins and phones with Google Maps, but not following the purple line on the Garmin involves a bit more brainpower!
Within a few hundred metres we climbed up a little way on the side of the hill and found ourselves on a fairly decent track.
Our planned cake stop was at Nierstein and I could see it in the distance, nestled in a crook of the Rhein.
The earth colour was very interesting here, a very red colour (sandstone).
We arrived in Nierstein which involved some quite steep short bursts on cobbles, particularly due to some roadworks which closed the road we wanted to take. But we soon found ourselves outside a café and stopped.
The cafe said they didn’t start serving cake till 11:00am so we drank a tea and a coffee instead and watched the world go by.
Although today was only meant to be around 100km, we still wanted to get going, so set off after drinking our tea. We had used the time at the café to check the route a bit more and had seen where we could divert off the B9 and take some quieter roads, so we planned to do this.
Most of the route was very similar to TimB’s, but there were a few diversions onto quieter roads. As I went past one house with a man and his two dogs outside he shouted “Brexit!” at me. To which I replied “Nooooooooooooo!”
The alternative route was taking quieter roads so more fiddly. We had enough time oo this was OK, and neither of us fancied too much riding on the B9, but true to tradition, when following an official German cycle route you have to watch out for surprises/challenges!
Fortunately I stopped dead before the pedestrian crossing. Something looked a bit wrong.
I got out and had a closer look:
This would have been VERY nasty in the Milan! Millie would have had bruises on her nose if I had ridden down there!
We gently lifted both bikes down onto the road and carried on.
A few minutes later we were off asphalt and onto a Schotter/mud path.
This surface was OK, except I kept thinking about all the dust that was being flicked up onto my rear gears as I had lost my gaffer tape cover. I am hoping, when we visit chums Christoph, Anna and Tim in Konstanz, that I can steal some gaffer tape from them to cover it up again!
At the end of this path was some impossible-to-navigate-with-Velomobile Drängelgitter.
Once again I climbed out, pushed Millie over the grass verge to the side of the gates, and then gave up with this route (which headed off onto another earth path) and renavigated by roads instead. Which worked well.
We were now heading south through several towns, with slow fiddly bits through the towns and faster stretches on cycle paths or the road between them. We went through Oppenheim, Dienheim, Ludwigshöhe, Guntersblum, Alsheim, Mettenheim, Osthofen, Herrnseim and then we were almost in Worms, our planned stop for cake.
The road into Worms was fast but also with lots of traffic lights. We had had a short, sharp climb to get onto a bridge over a road and so my knees were feeling it a bit. Klaus was also feeling pretty hot as Emily has less good airflow than Millie.
But we made it to Worms, struggling to find a café with somewhere to sit in shade. Eventually I found a Coffee Brothers café and we ate there, although I didn’t particularly like their service. They also charged me 2,60 EUR for my tea water after initially refusing to give it to me!
Klaus was brooding a bit over Emily’s new squeaks, so we weren’t particularly chirpy.
We didn’t linger, we both wanted to get to Speyer and have a cold shower. It was another 40 plus kilometres to ride.
We went through Bobenheim-Roxheim and then through Frankenthal which was a rather lovely town with a very nice pedestrian area (which we rolled through slowly). At the bottom end was a nice gate – that we went round.
From Frankenthal to Mutterstadt we had fiddly cycle paths beside busy-ish roads, with several path crossings which slows you down and is also annoying. I saw a sign on a bank saying the temperature was 31 degrees and I could believe it – it was hot!
After Mutterstadt we headed through Schifferstadt and at last were nearing Speyer.
From 5km out we got onto a fast road which had an accompanying cycle path; however, the path looked rough and we decided instead to take the road so zoomed along at between 40 and 45 km/h for about 4km. This was fun, but riding at this speed means my cadence is very high and that hurts my knees (which is unusual, it’s normally the case that a too low cadence hurts the knees, but not so with me).
The final kilometre or so into Speyer was OK, we then arrived at our hotel Alt Speyer.
When the receptionist saw the velomobiles she said “oh, they are much larger than I had expected!” I had especially contacted them about storage for the velomobiles and they said they could offer us safe storage. She had a bit of think and eventually they were carried into their washing and beer storage room – carried as the courtyard area was being resurfaced.
We had quite a few movement alarms from the velomobiles over the evening as the receptionist was sorting out washing etc.
Our room was very nice, a mini attic apartment with a kitchen area and upstairs lounge.
It was pretty warm so we had an air conditioning unit working away in the second bedroom.
Here are my statistics for the ride today.
We were both pretty tired after our day’s ride, mainly because of all the stop and start at the traffic lights and in villages and towns. We are hoping tomorrow will be a bit easier, although it is a longer distance again (130km).
After our showers and clothes washing we went for a walk around Speyer. I have visited many times but still find it a lovely place.
What was noticeable about the Dom was that it was very light inside – that is often not the case. And blessedly cool!
Klaus wanted us to eat in the Domhof restaurant where he often went years ago. They had this nice sign about bicycle parking outside!
I ordered a fairly normal pork steak with chips but Klaus had one of his favourite things, Wurstsalat. You have to be German to really get this as a meal, but he loves it!
And because it was warm, we went down the road for a dessert of ice cream. I had a snickers ice cream!
We popped into a supermarket on the way back to the hotel to buy some breakfast for tomorrow. The hotel’s breakfast is 9 EUR each so we decided to have our own breakfast of yoghurt and fruit (Klaus) and cheese and ham rolls (Helen).
We will ride a bit into France tomorrow, but before that we will probably meet up with another Velomobilforum member who works in Karlsruhe but can maybe get away to ride some of the route with us. That will be fun!
Tomorrow also happens to be my birthday. I am not expecting the bumps. Phew! Tomorrow we ride to Appenweier which is nowhere special, but we will enjoy cruising along in our rockets and watching the world go by!