Wednesday 9 September 2015
So this was the last day of the tour – James and I had cycled further each day than we originally estimated so it looked as though we would be back in my Wohnung this evening.
We went down to breakfast which was very pleasant but the view outside wasn’t exactly the sunshine we had been expecting.
Alfie and James’s Aravis Bike had enjoyed their night in the bike shed, nestled up close to an Ice Cream freezer. A few more bikes had arrived overnight so there were a couple of extra guests it seemed, but the hotel was pretty quiet.
I mentioned on Day 1 that a bolt on Alfie’s rack sheared and we fixed it as best we could with cable ties. Here you can see the problem – the right hand side pannier is much closer to the axle than the left.
In fact it is so close that I have a feeling it might bang against the axle when going over bumps – this is sub-optimal so I’ll have to expedite a fix.
Fortunately I usually use my Sidepods which don’t sit on the rack rather than the panniers which are just for touring or shopping.
Anyway, here is our route for today which ended up as 96.69km at an average of 15.8km/h.
We have been remarkably consistent (and slow!) in our average speeds for the three full days of this tour – 15.4 on Monday, 15.6 on Tuesday and 15.8 today. I guess if we had extended another day we might have made 16km/h!
Anyway, we were all checked out and underway by 9:15am, retracing our journey over the bridge to the north side of the Ruhr and riding along the river. We were on a path called Leinpfad which I believe was previously a towpath for horses when barges were pulled along the river by horses.
We crossed the river again after a couple of kilometres and this was the view from the bridge – we had to ride through the cow field.
Here is James’s bike which has been very reliable and comfortable for him.
Yesterday we saw some hydroelectric projects on the river and there were many more today too, also various other water features such as this weir.
Despite the fact that I suppose technically we were in the Ruhrgebiet where it is known for being industrial, the view along the river was almost always rather lovely.
James and I found the various warning signs along the river very amusing. I like the chap’s mouth in this one:
The river was at times quite fast-flowing and other times very placid. It also had some much shallower sections.
I decided I ought to dip my toe in the water (I had already put my hand in).
James decided to take his bike for a swim.
I decided Alfie’s wheels needed a wash too.
Today’s route had generally very good path quality but there were a few exceptions – this one nearly rattled half of my teeth out!
I think that parts of this route were an old railway as this bridge seemed oversized for pedestrians and bikes.
We were technically in the Essen region here (although quite a way from Essen’s centre) and there were just a couple of visual reminders of the industrial past.
Just past the rather nicely-named Kupferdreh we found that the river had widened considerably into a lake called the Baldeneysee. This was absolutely beautiful – and the path around it was also brilliant so is definitely a section I’d like to ride again!
Unsurprisingly there was also a hydro plant.
We’d covered nearly 40km so it was definitely time for a cake so we stopped in the town of Werden and my bakery-radar worked as effectively as usual and we found somewhere.
What was a bit peculiar here was that I had to work a bit hard to get my Teewasser (hot water for tea). This is because they said I couldn’t buy just the tea water, I had to also have their teabag. I was worried they’d put it in the water so said I didn’t need it, I knew I would have to pay, but I wanted to use my own teabag. After some mumbling and grumbling they let me have just the tea water (and charged me the full tea price).
After our stop in Werden we had a nice fast section on good quality track. James had looked at the Bikeline book and noticed that where the route crossed the river at Kettwig the track then became on-road and with bad quality surfaces (indicated by a dashed red line on the map) but there seemed to be an alternative route on the north side of the Ruhr that was solid line (better quality). So we decided to do this instead and not cross over at Kettwig.
This turned out to be an excellent choice as the route was the whole time alongside the river with good views and not too many other cyclists (we had noticed the general route being much busier today – we had seen very few other cycle tourists before today).
We cycled under the impressive A52 motorway bridge.
We were now approaching Mülheim an der Ruhr (which I have cycled to before from home) and, once again, the Ruhr river seemed very un-industrial and instead scenic.
The route didn’t actually take us through Mülheim as we stayed on the left hand side of the river (west, in this case), and it took an interesting route through parks and on some elevated bridges. We stopped briefly to look at Schloss Broich.
And after this went through a park with various water features which was rather lovely, although there did seem to be more graffiti around than you normally see.
Here we are looking back at Mülheim from a bridge.
This was a good quality bridge again ‘just’ for cyclists and pedestrians.
We also passed this water tower which is now an aquarium. That lift looks incredibly complicated!
It was three o’clock so time for some more food so we popped into a bakery attached to a small shopping centre just outside Mühlheim.
Amazingly I had to have the same argument about using my own teabag (“it’s not allowed. You aren’t allowed to bring your own food here.”) When I protested she said “it’s the rules from the boss” and other such comments. But once again I was firm and said I just wanted hot water, would pay the full cost of the tea, and she backed down. But twice in one day!!!
What was also interesting was that there was no public toilet although this was a sit-down café. I believe that this is against the law (as it is in England), in that you have to provide a loo if you provide seating with food service. But I just crossed my legs for the rest of the ride.
James and I both commented that we had probably seen more industrial views when riding on the river Main or Rhine than the supposedly-industrial Ruhr. But as we approached Duisburg we finally found some of what I thought we’d see much more of…
This was the view about 2km from the mouth of the Ruhr where it joins the Rhine.
And this was the final time that we crossed the Ruhr on our tour – I reckon we’ve done at least 30 crossings this trip.
And here is where the Ruhr meets the Rhein.
James cycled right down to the point of the confluence (I didn’t as it was too off-road).
And there was one of the Rhein kilometre markers too – we had seen smaller versions of these on the Ruhr today but hadn’t noticed them on previous days.
We waved goodbye to the Ruhr, crossed the Rhine and then had a 25km ride home through Moers. It wasn’t a particularly scenic route, it was direct and fast, and I was pleased to be heading home as my knees were hurting a bit. These routes have lots of very short, sharp climbs to go over bridges and round obstacles and I have used my Granny Ring (and indeed my first gear) more on this tour than in the last two years put together, I think.
Anyway, we had a great time. We cycled 285.99km and took over 25 hours to do it! I burned 6,610 calories over the four days so you can decide whether my cake consumption was offset.
I thought I had forgotten my battery charger for my NiMhs for my Garmin so had to buy some AA batteries in Aldi; when sorting out my bike tools this morning I spotted the charger at the bottom of the pannier. But neither of us needed any tools except cable ties for my broken rack and both bikes performed very well indeed. Alfie is indeed an excellent touring machine although is hard work on the hillier tours such as this one. It might help if I had slightly less luggage and slightly less personal lard.
We both carried iPads with us and these are surprisingly heavy. They both survived the journey well – but I dropped mine getting out of the car on the way back from choir and cracked the glass on the front. Rather ironic considering it was bumped around in panniers for four days on the trike, over cobbles and railway lines, and with a dodgy rack which meant it could bash against the axle. But it took a trip to the supermarket to buy some milk to cause damage. Not too bad, fortunately, so it lives to fight another day – and hopefully to do another tour sometime soon!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the trip. I can very much recommend this as a route, as long as you don’t mind hills on the first day. The Ruhr may be seen as the industrial heartland but it is also beautiful, scenic and friendly (as long as you don’t need to use your own teabags).