Day 8 – Gemünden to Wertheim
I woke up this morning a whole decade older. Scary! As James had pointed out, if I had celebrated my birthday in England I could have had an extra hour in my thirties!
I checked my emails – lots of birthday messages, thanks to everyone.
James joined me downstairs and we went into breakfast. The breakfast was superb – the first full, hot breakfast we’ve had in Germany including Frikadellen (sausage patties), bratwurst, scrambled egg and bacon as well as boiled egg. There was a good selection of bread rolls, cold meats, cheeses, yoghurts, cereal and muesli and fresh fruit.
As I paid for the room the chap told me that tomorrow he had five English people staying, including one who had lived in Germany for fifteen years but still couldn’t speak the language (he was clearly appalled).
We set off just after nine, retracing our route of last night for the first mile so that we could cross over the Main to the southern side (left bank). This involved a long, steep road bridge which was very hard work after our large breakfast and with little warm-up.
The first village we reached was Hofstetten which also had a very steep climb which was hard work!
Going down the other side of the slope was good fun though!
Most of the route was alongside the river and we saw lots of wagtails flying across the path, plus swallows/swifts (not sure which) over the fields.
We had quite a headwind to contend with, plus there were some ominous-looking clouds ahead. The forecast for today depended on which of the three websites I looked at, but two of the three suggested we would get rained on – and we did, about halfway to Lohr am Main in a quiet stretch without much shelter. The village of Steinbach was visible a mile or so ahead but we realised we’d get soaked in the time it took to get there so we stood under a tree and put on our waterproofs.
Initially we stayed dry, but the rain came down harder and eventually the wind was blowing it under the tree and water was dripping down through the leaves. We were joined by a local who didn’t seem chatty – we all stood around waiting.
After about ten minutes the rain eased. A lone jogger had run past, clearly made of sterner stuff than us three.
Suitably dressed now in waterproofs, gloves, and with a plastic bag stuffed down the back of my seat to attempt to reduce the spray coming onto my back from the back wheel (no mudguard), we headed off in the drizzle.
The rain petered out after about ten minutes but I was getting quite mucky on my arms, panniers… and my head! It was flicking up off the back wheel onto my head; my new birthday buff was rather less clean than it had been when I unwrapped it this morning and my hair had lumps of mud in. Oh well. Oh, and my trike was rather muddy too without its mudguard:
We passed a sign for 50 degrees longitude beside which I posed – but I’m 40 not 50!
We passed through Sendelbach which is opposite Lohr am Main where we could hear some strange brass music playing – there appeared to be some kind of procession going over the bridge through Lohr; lots of people with umbrellas singing, then alternately a marching brass band playing. Random.
There were lots of cyclists sheltering under this big road bridge – they were wimps, the rain had stopped some time ago! A whole bunch of them seemed to have black arrows pained on their cheeks for some unfathomable reason.
We carried on riding, trading places with a couple with matching blue waterproofs. We went through Pflochsbach and then Erlach am Main, which were smallish villages with little in between except for excellent-quality Radweg paths. The standing water meant I was still getting quite wet, so although I took my waterproof off as I got a bit hot, I had to put it back on to keep my windproof jersey clean as I didn’t have another with me.
We cycled through Zimmern, cheered that the skies appeared to be less rainy ahead. At Marktheidenfeld, just over halfway, we stopped for lunch.
I had stopped here with Pippa in 2009 for an ice cream but the weather wasn’t good enough for that so I had soup and a salad in the next restaurant along, and James had Bratwurst.
When we set off again it looked set to be dry, if cloudy. We toiled along, finding the headwind hard work (all of today’s cycling seemed to take more effort than usual). We went through a big campsite before Lengfurt – it’s always amusing to see all the German caravans/campervans with their satellite dishes – they do seem to need their TVs!
We passed Schloss Homburg:
and carried on through Homburg which is opposite Markt Triefenstein.
At Homburg (is it something to do with hats???) we saw another concrete factory. James had noticed days ago that every medium-sized town seems to have a concrete factory. I suppose it’s the availability of water but they are generally rather ugly things. We cycled through the factory at Homburg; in the UK this would be a Health & Safety nightmare, in Germany they just put signs up saying don’t trespass. Same goes for the railway – no fencing or anything, you could just walk straight onto it if you so desire.
After Homburg we saw a few vineyards (the landscape up till now had mostly been forest or arable), but they soon petered out and we were back to forest.
Just before Bettingen we crossed from Bayern (Bavaria) to Baden Württemburg and there was a monument to mark the county boundary.
Here is a picture of my feet and my trust Garmin satnav (the Oregon 300) which was faithfully guiding us.
At Bettingen we started the large meander which was to take us to Wertheim; from Bettinghen Wertheim was probably only a mile and a half away as the crow flies but the river does a significant loop which was another six miles. At the bottom of the loop was Urphar which had lots of terraced vineyards.
We rolled into Eichel which then became Wertheim. We cycled along the front until we found our hotel, Hotel Schwann, which I thought was the one in which I had stayed with Pippa in 2009. As it happened it wasn’t – that one was next door! – but we checked in and have a very nice room with a large bathroom and, rather wonderfully, a balcony which looks over the Main river.
I had a discussion with the hotel receptionist about why WiFi had to be paid for (they hadn’t mentioned this on their email) but didn’t manage to persuade her to give it to me free of charge, sadly.
After our showers and clothes washing, we hung our wet cycling gear on the balcony to delight the passing tourists and then went out to find me some birthday cake.
What we decided on in the end was a waffle as it was a bit more warming – today has been a bit chilly.
After the waffle and cups of tea we went for a wander, exploring the huge Protestant church which had a very well designed exhibition about someone I’d never heard of (Heber) with lots of things to do. The interior was much more ornate than most Protestant churches I am used to, but it did date from the 1500s.
I liked the board which listed the hymns and was rather specific about which verses were to be sung!
We walked around Wertheim a little more, coming across an English red telephone box in a quiet street, and then realised the rain was starting so we went back to the hotel.
I paid my 2 Euro per hour for WiFi so that I could check all my messages – lots more birthday wishes, thanks to everyone. I do feel a bit old now though.
Statistics for today:
Distance: 36.21 miles
Moving time: 3 hours 51 minutes
Moving average: 9.39 mph
Maximum speed: 21.29 mph
Calories burned: 1142
Maximum heart rate: 150
Average heart rate: 105