This was the last day of our tour and would be the shortest at around 45km.
We breakfasted and then made ourselves ready. Once again we left for our morning’s ride around 9am – we have been very consistent about this!
I was relieved to find that my motor did indeed work this morning, that the battery was still functional despite a loose metal pin.
Here is our route for the day.
We had of course ridden this way yesterday. Well, it was not all the same as yesterday we did a section on the other side of the river and today we would stay on the left hand side. But that meant that 70% was just retracing our steps/wheeltracks.
But travelling in the other direction does show you some new things. It helped that the weather was a bit warmer today.
Here is the section on the way to Winningen where we are sandwiched between the railway on the left and some rocky walls on the right.
And here’s what it is all about… the grapes! A bit early for them, but there is some promise showing.
A few times on our tour we have seen the ADAC helicopter which is some kind of rescue helicopter I believe (like an air ambulance). We saw it set down in a very small field – there can’t be that many flat landing places in the Mosel valley!
I find it very interesting considering the age of the terraces which we were riding past. The Mosel has been used for viticulture for ever, and sometimes you come across something like these steps made out of stone which could be hundreds of years old.
The Mosel is, of course, a castles and wine river. Here is Klaus with a castle in front and some vineyards to his right.
On our journey to Koblenz yesterday we whizzed past this small area which had been planted for the bees. As we were going uphill to it today we stopped and had a look.
At Löf we stayed on the same side of the Mosel rather than crossing over and so had a short section with some new impressions. I liked this tower – I of course started quoting “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” and it turns out the German pronunciation of Rapunzel is quite different.
Here is a pic Klaus took of me. Notice I just have one pannier at the back – travelling light, the other pannier was in his car in Cochem.
We decided to stop for cake after 35km in Treis Karden. We found a nice café and had a Schmandkuchen with a nut base. This is slightly more Keto than all the food we had eaten so far on this holiday! It tasted good, too!
We were looking across at this pretty church whilst enjoying our cake. The church had a sign saying it had been built in 1699.
From Treis-Karden we had just 10km back to Cochem, although we had a couple of dodgy cyclists to contend with. One was a time-trialler doing at least 40 km/h on the cycle path (normal maximum is 15 km/h) and it was a path we were joining after crossing under the railway so visibility was bad. I think we gave him a bit of a shock but he should have been on the road, he was way too fast for the cycle path. We also had an idiot chap who just wheeled his bike across the path, blocking it – I think he had forgotten it was a cycle path in use and just thought it was part of the parking area where he was standing. Fortunately we have good brakes and Klaus can sound authoritative in German!
And then we arrived back in Cochem which was REALLY busy. The car park which had been almost empty yesterday morning was full now – presumably with visitors for the bank holiday weekend. In the final 5 metres of the tour, when Klaus had to ride up a steep slope to get to the car, he managed to put so much power through the pedals that he twisted the boom around. Clearly the boom quick release bolts weren’t quite tight enough. He was then stuck as he couldn’t get up from the bike as his brakes probably wouldn’t hold him, so I came to the rescue and stood behind the bike so he could get up.
We disassembled the bikes and managed to tetris them into the car again. I managed to get oil all over my hands and some on my face too, but this is normal.
We headed away from Cochem through the crowds of tourists. I don’t imagine there will be another June opportunity to tour the Mosel without hordes of other cyclists. We had noticed more every day as it was, and this reminded us why we prefer to ride in less-busy places. We are both a bit misanthropic!
Here are the statistics for the day.
And here is the map of the whole tour.
We rode in total 343km and enjoyed ourselves very much! Klaus is already planning future tours, with an eye to the Romantische Straße and also some 1-2 day tours in the Eifel. Of course, I need to get my upgraded batteries before that!
Today we would be back on the road again, but a shorter day than the previous ones at around 60km in total.
But first we took the opportunity to offload some more unnecessary items to the car at Cochem Long Term Parking.
I made a last-minute decision to keep my rain jacket as the weather seemed greyer than the forecast yesterday had suggested.
Then we set off.
Today‘s motor plan was to ride on number 4, using number 5 for any inclines that slowed me down too much. I would try and keep to a relatively consistent speed. Klaus wanted to stay behind me again today to try to match his speed to mine.
I had issues with my squealing brake again (the disc rotor is slightly fouling the brake gubbins, but this will be a bit of a fiddly job to repair). I also had to adjust my seat. But it was OK for Klaus to wait for me to faff about taking off my jacket, etc, as the views were good!
We passed a lot of castles today but the light wasn‘t great for photography. But here is one!
There was quite a strong headwind at times today but then we would round a curve and it would be gone. This mini harbour at Hatzenport had incredibly still water.
We were making good progress today, averaging about 17km/h, and my motor was performing well on number 4. I was also giving a bit more Helen Power to the pedals as I felt more rested and energetic after our day off yesterday.
The route is largely alongside a road but we crossed over to the right hand bank of the Mosel at Treis-Karden for 15km or so. After we crossed back across the river at Löf we headed through Kattenes and then the cycle path crossed under the railway and went up a narrow path the other side of the railway to the road. This was much more scenic but the road surface was pretty rough too.
At another short faffing stop we were overtaken by a big bunch of leisure cyclists so we stayed put for a bit to give them a chance to get ahead so we didn‘t have to overtake them again.
Here we saw lots of the little metal bogies for the viticulture. Apparently they can go up slopes of up to 60%!!
We were making good progress but had been on the bikes for a couple of hours so decided to stop for cake at a likely-looking café in Kobern.
Cheesecake for both of us!
We carried on, crossing under the A61 motorway which is our usual choice of route when visiting Klaus‘s father or other places in the south.
After the bridge we started climbing a little up the side of the hill on the way to Winningen. We watched gliders being launched from Winningen Airfield; my father once flew there with my Mum for a holiday (he was a private pilot).
I wasn‘t sure of the significance of this giant snail shell!
The route takes you down a steep hill in Winningen and at the bottom we saw a lady nearly fall off her ebike. It seemed that the act of turning a sharp corner in it was too much for her!
Along a road in Winningen we saw this amazing building with individual letters formed out of sheets of plate about 1 metre squared.
Very posh for a wine shop!
We arrived in Koblenz-Güls where our hotel for the night was located. I asked if I could drop off my pannier, which was fine – the hotel took it. I said we would be back in about three hours.
From the hotel it was just six and a half kilometres to Koblenz. Klaus and I got split up twice, once when he fell foul of some unhelpful traffic lights and a second time when he chose not to go through the road closed sign that the rest of us cyclists did and ended up on a wild goose chase around Koblenz. But we both knew our destination, Deutsches Eck, and we were both there soon enough.
This meant for Klaus he had joined up 3 river tours – Kylltal, Mosel and Rhein. There are lots of other rivers we need to add to our repertoire though!
We decided it was time for some more food so stopped at the café Wacht am Rhein where we stopped on our velomobile tour. I had crepes and Klaus had Apfelstreusel.
Whilst we were there it began to rain so we had chosen a good time to sit under an umbrella! The rain eased off before we decided to head back to our hotel.
This time Klaus followed me through the Road Closed section as it was actually a lovely smooth new surface.
It felt like just a few minutes before we were back at the hotel in Güls.
We took our luggage off and then when I disconnected the battery from the motor cable – Disaster!
That little metal spike should not still be in there!!! There are four holes in the connector in the photo below, and one is missing its metal widget inside.
Was this Game Over? Klaus said that if necessary tomorrow he would cycle to pick up the car and fetch me, but I decided I would at least try to make a start on the ride back. It would probably be slow but I can ride 45 kilometres without motor assistance, just the Winningen hills would be a pain! I had resolved that I would give Klaus the pannier and the heavy stuff to carry.
I put the battery on charge just in case it would work after all. We then went out for our dinner in the restaurant next door to the hotel, and we had some good food. Klaus enjoyed his last glass of Mosel white wine on the Mosel.
Güls seems to be a bit of a ribbon development along the river but it is good to be close to the water.
When we got back from dinner the battery had fully charged. The suspense was killing me so I decided we would try it out tonight so that I would know if the motor would work for me tomorrow. I was most relieved, after carefully plugging it in, to see the battery was indeed providing power to the motor. We will see if that will be the case for the whole of tomorrow‘s 45km. But we have hope!
We have really enjoyed this tour. We have been lucky with the weather and also it is much less crowded than normal due to Coronavirus. I don‘t suppose the Mosel will ever be as empty again in June, so I am very pleased we have had the chance to see it like that.
We both slept really well, starting to recover from a few difficult weeks at work. It is good to feel rested again!
Yesterday the WiFi was being tricky (we had to use a phone hotspot) so I didn‘t manage to include some photos that Klaus took of Cochem, but here they are now.
We had a leisurely breakfast knowing that we didn‘t have anything planned for today. We talked a lot to the Guest House landlord who was discussing all the ebikes and the problems they can cause. We saw this yesterday – many people riding ebikes who perhaps haven‘t ridden much for many years. They have quite a lot of speed and power available to them and tend to often ride on a very high power setting but with a very low cadence. We were regularly overtaken by ebikes and I am riding one myself. Probably we are more careful with energy usage as our journeys are longer – over 80km yesterday, for example.
After breakfast we did a bit of judicious packing for a bag we would leave in the car today. The weather forecast is improving so we don‘t need so much wet weather clothing. As we will just be riding to Koblenz and back over two days, about 110km in total, we don‘t need much with us. We had a full bag which we carried with us to the car park in Cochem where Klaus‘s car has patiently been waiting since last Saturday. It won‘t be moving again until Friday afternoon/evening. We will go tomorrow morning to buy parking for the next two days and I may well drop off my mudguards then too as they are annoying and rattly and if there isn‘t any rain then I would rather leave them. Klaus will probably keep his on as they are as yet rattle-free.
I also took the opportunity to telephone Gerrit Tempelman of Ligfietsshop Tempelman in Dronten. He is the chap who always serviced my Versatile Velomobiles but is also an ICE dealer and has over the last few years developed a new side of the business which is electric motors for recumbents. As I needed a new battery or two (following the discussion between Klaus and I yesterday) but also really wanted my trike serviced (dodgy brakes), it seemed wise to take it to one place.
Gerrit was, as usual, very helpful. He can offer me two batteries that will work with my Bafang motor, although changing to a better socket system (the one for my battery is a bit tricky and I am always afraid the cable will break or bend badly, whereas the one for my Milan seems pretty bulletproof). I also explained that it is really hard to adjust the brakes with the Bafang electronic brake thingie and this is a known issue with these brake levers (with a motor cut-out sensor) and Avid BB7 disc brakes – there is simply too much travel on the brake lever. Gerrit can offer a gear sensor for the motor which is a much better idea (and which I have on Millie‘s motor).
Gerrit has a lot on but we booked for me to deliver Alfie to him in July and he will do a service, provide me with two new batteries, possibly provide me with a seat-mounting system for the batteries (rather than me using the sidepods, although I am happy with that option), add the gear change sensor, change back to my original brake levers (which I still have), provide me with batteries and new cabling for them… and also the basic service. Alfie will enjoy the attention! Hopefully having two good-size batteries means that I can go a bit faster on the longer rides with Klaus and we can maybe tackle some hillier routes too.
It wasn‘t raining so we decided to go out and deliver the bag of things to the car. We found the car undisturbed in its parking place and said a brief hello. We‘ll be back tomorrow to feed another 10 Euro to the parking meter.
We then sat on a bench looking at the Mosel for a bit. Looking behind us and to our right was Cochem castle and it didn‘t look like too high a hill… perhaps we could climb up and have a look.
So we set off walking through the town and up steeper and steeper cobbled roads until we found ourselves at two schools, perched high on a hill. Quite a tough walk to school for the kids! Past the schools was the route to the castle.
It wasn‘t a difficult walk but neither of us are used to hill climbing, living as we do in the flatlands, so it was definitely a bit of effort!
At the top a gateway, we had to wear masks from this point.
The view from the top was worth it!
There was a terrace café but there was a big queue for it, so we decided to walk back down for our cake lunch.
This sort of sign was not around 10 years ago! No drones.
We decided to go down a different way, which took us past a little chapel built in the 1400s.
We were soon walking down steep cobbled streets again.
Cochem is a nice town with lots of pedestrian areas although they also allow cars for residents so you do tend to have to dodge a lot of cars.
We found somewhere to sit for some cake!
Whilst we were enjoying our tea and cake it started to rain, but wonder of wonders we had accidentally managed to sit under a large umbrella so we stayed dry. We watched the people go past for quite a while before heading back to our Guest House for a rest (and for tea and blog-writing for me).
I popped out a bit later in the day to buy a new home card for someone, and a stamp, and managed to blag a free pen as I didn‘t have anything to write with. Card written, we then decided to go out for dinner and did a bit of googling for decent places as last night‘s Italian had been very disappointing. There was a place just down the road from our Guest House which looked good so we went there. I had a very tasty steak and Klaus had a schnitzel. We also had dessert of course!
I‘m contemplating using just my sidepods for our 2 day trip to Koblenz and back. I did a test pack and it is just possible to fit everything I need to take just in the sidepods, which means I can leave my two 25 litre panniers in the car, but it also means the battery will be a bit squashed and, as mentioned above, I think the connector is a bit weak. I will decide tomorrow if I will risk it, but it would be nice to ride without panniers on the back. And of course the mudguards which I will take off as we have no rain forecasted. In fact, the forecast is for sunshine, up to 27 degrees in Koblenz on Friday.
Today has been a nice rest day and it was good to walk around Cochem. Back to the trikes tomorrow!
We woke to rather grey skies with misty hills in the distance – perhaps w would have a wet cycle ride today.
Here is a picture from my bedside table – charging station for phone, iPad Mini, Garmins etc, and some biscuits that Klaus bought yesterday. They worked well dunked in tea first thing in the morning!
Breakfast was served in a lovely room overlooking the hills. Because of Covid-19 the hotels are not allowed to supply a buffet breakfast, instead they deliver everything to your table. This Guest House had everything very nicely set out.
We went back to our room, packed everything and then retrieved the trikes from the garage. I needed to tighten my mudguard again as it keeps coming loose, and Klaus needed to tighten up his seat.
I forgot to mention in yesterday‘s blog that I had noticed part of the general cabling for the Bafang motor had slightly separated apart. I pushed the two sockets back together again and lo and behold my left brake motor cutout was magically working again. That was a relief!
Talking of the motor, I had a comment on my blog yesterday from regular reader antc1946 who said he has the same motor and he uses the 9 levels option, riding mostly on level 3. That means the battery lasts well. So I decided to switch from my 5 levels back to the original 9 levels and try riding on 3 as antc1946 suggested.
So we set off, again pretty much at 9am, assuming it would take us quite a long time to get to Cochem as it was 82km away and I would be using less battery power.
It was a bit grey as we started and we had our jackets on but not our coats as it was warmer than previous mornings.
Today‘s scenery was largely vineyards and there was quite a lot of activity going on as well – we saw lots of people walking amongst the vines, tractors in the vines, people using the funny little railway bogeys and even a helicopter spraying (see the photo below).
We crossed under this very impressive bridge, the Hochmoselbrücke, which carries a Bundesstraße across it.
You can see from the two photos above that the sun had come out and the sky was blue. When stopped to take these photos I took the opportunity to remove my jacket and socks.
It‘s really impressive to see where the vintners are able to place their vines – this area was particularly steep and they squeezed the vines in every nook and cranny.
Whilst on the ride today I reached a mini milestone with Alfie – 3,000km cycled using the motor. I was quite surprised it was that much as I only did a 3 day tour before with Alfie, the rest must have been lots of commuting and leisure rides.
When checking out the route last night Klaus had noticed that we could do a shortcut across the hill which avoids Zell on a river meander. However, the route planner showed it was a mighty hill and we didn‘t fancy it! You can see below the very narrow section we would have needed to cross.
However, we went the long way round, pootling around Barl. There was a sort section which wasn‘t asphalted and which had a couple of roller-coaster ups and downs.
As you can see from the above map, after we arrived at Zell we crossed the river was was our original plan, but you can see our track stops and we have to retrace our steps. It turned out the cycle path beside the road was blocked for bikes. There had been some signs showing diversions but it was not clear that the entire route was blocked.
Klaus and I had ridden up rather a hill to join the cycle path, only to discover it was still blocked at this further point. Here we are in a mirror at the top of the hill.
Looking at the road closed sign.
We ended up crossing back into Zell and then heading up the right hand side bank of the river, which was actually quite nice although the block paving needed to be repaired as there were lots of very lumpy bits due to tree roots.
We also failed to find somewhere for cake. We had been riding for 50km or so but all the places we saw were wine sales shops/cafes. I am a lifelong teetotaller so wine isn‘t anything for me, and as we were cycling anyway Klaus didn‘t want any. However, I know that the Mosel has loads of cafes so we would find one eventually.
After about 7km on the other side of the Mosel to our original plan we crossed back on this impressive double-decker bridge near Alf.
The scenery was still great of course – rolling hills, vines, water…
Fortunately we eventually found somewhere to stop for some food – an Italian which also did ice cream and strudel. Klaus chose the Strudel.
I went for a large ice cream.
We headed off again after half an hour with only about 30km to go. As the battery in my motor was doing much better than yesterday I increased the assistance level from 3 to 4, sometimes going up to 5. This was a very good thing as we had been rather too slow before this point, averaging about 14.5 km/h. Klaus had stayed behind me all day to try to match his speed to mine as I had been rather pooped yesterday trying to keep up with him, but it was very slow for him. My battery will not allow me to travel more than about 60km with lots of assistance. So I was experimenting with Level 3 today, which certainly gives me more range but isn‘t really enough help for me to ride at a useful pace. It seems clear I need to get a second battery so that we can do some longer rides at a faster pace.
I saw this impressive ruin on the other bank, not sure what it was!
With about 15km to go we saw some very heavy clouds in the distance and expected we would get rained upon.
However, we were lucky and the wind blew it round a corner. We managed to stay dry on the entire journey, with the rain starting heavily in Cochem about two minutes after we arrived.
About 200 metres from our Guest House I stopped to buy some cake for us to have when we arrived. It was very tasty!
Our guest house is pleasant with quirky furnishings and decor, a kettle in the room (which isn‘t functioning 100%, I have to hold the button down to get it to boil, but it does heat the water with this assistance!) and friendly staff. Our trikes were safely put in the garage.
After the traditional washing of clothes and unpacking we had a few cups of tea and then went out for a meal. As we like to sit outside (because of Covid-19 ) the choice of places wasn‘t that high but we found a generic Italian restaurant. The food was rather mediocre but that‘s often the case in tourist traps. We had a view of the river from where we sat and we were served fairly rapidly.
After the meal we had a short wander around Cochem.
We have a day off tomorrow so will probably spend some more time exploring and if the forecasted rain holds off we might do a short ride too. The following day (Thursday) we will head to Koblenz, staying overnight just outside Koblenz, and then will return to Cochem and our car on Friday and head straight home.
We woke up a bit early – this is the disadvantage of a hotel in a city next to a supermarket. The deliveries for the supermarket come early and there is lots of banging and crashing of trolleys etc. But it was OK as we had had a fairly early night.
Breakfast was at 7:30 in the morning which worked out well – time for a bit of a chill out and to investigate possible hotels for tonight in Bernkastel-Kues.
We extracted our bikes from the bicycle storage room, I did a bit of maintenance on Alfie‘s left disc brake (which is squealing rather) and then it was time to roll, almost exactly 9:00 again, the same as yesterday.
We had a shorter and flatter ride today, only 65km rather than yesterday‘s 90, but I was pleased about this as I felt rather pooped yesterday after the riding with all the hills and an easier day would be good.
We had made a route out of Trier on the right bank of the Mosel (the official cycle path is on the left bank) as we had ridden 10km on the left bank on our way to Trier yesterday and it wasn‘t particularly attractive. After 11km the official cycle route would cross over to join us.
The first 3km coming out of Trier weren‘t particularly attractive either, we were on main roads with Monday morning traffic, but we made good progress and soon found ourselves on a separate bike path.
You can see here the beginnings of the vineyard valley sides which are so typical of the Mosel. And, of course, the river itself!
We were now bumbling along nicely. Interestingly, in order to keep up with Klaus I had to have my motor on number 3 (out of 5), whereas yesterday I had mostly been using number 2. We had a shorter day so I thought that would be OK. If I switched down to number 2 Klaus kept disappearing off into the distance, and if I was ahead and switched down to number 2 he would very quickly overtake me and disappear off into the distance. So Number 3 it was.
The scenery is lovely – lots of vineyards perched onto rocky hillsides, lots of weird machinery to tend the vines (little engines which pull up on almost vertical rails) and we saw lots of tractors spraying stuff; these are extra-narrow tractors which pass between the vines and which presumably have very grippy tyres!
I told Klaus before we started on this holiday that one of the delights of Mosel touring is watching the locks. Sure enough we arrived at Detzem and knew that about 10 minutes behind us was a barge, the Eentracht from Dordrecht. So we decided (well, I decided and Klaus didn‘t demur) to wait for it and watch the lock in action.
While we were waiting we did some photography… or Klaus did anyway (my pics of the bikes were no good)
The barge came into view and the lock gates on the far side disappeared under the water…
We watched them tie the barge to the wall of the lock with just one rope to hold all that weight! And then the lock started emptying below our feet on the bridge over it.
It‘s surprising how quickly all the water is let out and the barge continued. We saw him again just as we reached our evening destination and had seen him right at the beginning of our time along the Mosel so it was interesting to compare our progress. I don‘t think he stopped for cake and photos as often as us!
Talking of cake, it seemed about the right time half an hour after the Lock experience so we stopped at a café which had a sign outside saying „Kuchen“. This was in Leiwen. The café was up some stairs with a view over the hills and the river.
With shade, too, which was welcome as the day had warmed up enough for us to remove our coats and at this point I even removed my socks (so I just had sandals on=.
The cake arrived – it was an extremely tasty cheesecake!
We had a very good leisurely break but eventually it was time to move on. We had done 30 of our 60 kilometres for the day.
In Neumagen-Dhron it started to rain. Not very heavily but enough that we eventually stopped under a tree and I put my waterproof jacket on. More for warmth than to keep the rain off. We carried on a few minutes later and the rain eased off.
One we went, and as we arrived in Piesport I saw a decent location to take a photo for the header for these blog pages.
At Piesport Klaus phoned the Guest House that we had chosen as our favourite option for tonight, and they said that they had a room free. We said we would be there in about an hour and a half.
In Mintrich there was a new cycle facility. I actually remembered having to cross a busy road and then cycle up a hill to get into Mintrich, but this time I saw the track on the Garmin was a bit different – they had built a bridge over the road. How nice of them.
Except… at the end some bright spark had put two planters together as a speed reduction method for bikes. But it was impassable for me with panniers on, I had to get off and shove the bike round the corner. It would be no fun with a trailer either. There must be a better solution!
Klaus was also doing some photography underway. He took this selfie…
And he also took this photo of the vines.
I was suffering rather with range anxiety now. The display on my Bafang controller was flickering down from 2 bars to 1 (from 4). Now I know that the display tends to overestimate the remaining juice, so I was really getting low. We had 15km to go. Riding at Number 3 all day had taken its toll, despite being a flat ride today.
I warned Klaus that my battery was running low and tried to conserve it as best I could, which is tricky when trying to keep up with a speedy trike rider. As we came into Bernkastel-Kues it was showing 1 bar all the time – a bad sign. I resigned myself to possibly having to ride up the hill to the hotel without a motor. Not an enticing thought.
And that is indeed what happened – about 500 metres from the hotel the battery was dead. I was on my own with my own muscle power, which wasn‘t much today as I rather overdid it yesterday. I crawled up the hill, eventually arriving at the hotel where Klaus was waiting for me. I was feeling a bit grumpy as I had to work a bit harder than I wanted – we discussed it later and we will go slower tomorrow, especially as we have 80km to ride rather than 65!
Our Guest House is really nice. We have our own room with a patio and a view over the Mosel. It gave us a great opportunity for a washing line art installation too!
After the usual shower, washing of clothes, cup of tea etc it was time to walk into Bernkastel-Kues for a bit of sightseeing and eventually our dinner.
It‘s a lovely quaint town.
We had a Schnitzel dinner and Klaus enjoyed some local wine.
We shared a dessert!
On the walk back to our Guest House across the river the light was lovely. Here is the Burg.
And here, although not a great photo, you can see the sunlight playing on the contours of the wine terraces.
All in all it was a very nice day, with some grey skies at time and a few minutes of rain but lots of sunshine and great views.
And here is where we went (track up, not north up)
We have looked at the weather forecast and although our ride to Cochem tomorrow looks dry, it seems the following day will be rain the whole time. So we have booked a hotel for two nights, as neither of us wants to cycle in the rain. We have the unusual advantage that Klaus‘s car is in Cochem so if we want to go somewhere else on the rainy day we can leave the bikes in the hotel garage and take his car for a spin!
The plan is the following day to ride to Koblenz and then back again to Cochem the next day, from where we will drive home. So it will be a six day bike tour which is a nice amount of time.
Klaus is now bonding well with Malcolm his trike and is learning again how trikes differ from Velomobiles. He has clearly chosen well, and although there are a few bits and bobs we need to do to Malcolm (and also to Alfie), they are both basically well-built and reliable machines. Alfie has done 45,000km, Malcolm 250, but they will both have a lot more miles on them by the end of this summer I think!
We slept very well and then went down at 8am to a very good breakfast – served at our table rather than buffet-style due to Covid-19. However, they needed to give us a larger table really!
We unlocked the bikes and then put all our luggage on. This was the first real opportunity to check we had our handlebars in the right place, etc.
And then we were off!!!
We had been told by some friends that the Kylltal Radweg was very nice and they were correct! It weaves its way beside the river, crossing it regularly on bridges built especially for cyclists or walkers.
We had gone just one kilometre when Klaus, who was behind me, said „You‘ve lost something!“ He noticed that my British Flag was missing. Oh no, it must have blown away!
As we had only been riding a very short distance, and this was the beginning of several days of touring, I turned round to try and find it.
Phew, I found it! I attached it with a very tight cable tie and hoped that would do.
Onward we cycled, generally in very green surroundings. There was the odd castle or church to be admired.
The nice thing about trike touring is you are slower than in the velomobile and you tend to see more are you waft along. I was really impressed by this large carved bird, simply carved into a tree trunk beside the cycle path.
The path tended in a downhill direction but there were quite a lot of short, sharp inclines. This coincided with the brake motor cutout on my left hand brake on Alfie stopping working. This is an electronic cut-out so if I use the brake, the motor switches off. I have to dab on the brake before changing gear so that the motor doesn‘t damage the Alfine hub; I brake with my left hand and change gear with my right. However, the left hand brake cutout wasn‘t working so I had to brake with my right hand and then do the gear with it – this often didn‘t work well (I forgot which order to do things) and so I had some gear changes where I lost a lot of speed. Not much fun in sharp inclines and no fun for Klaus if he was following me – he ended up stuck in a high gear at one point having had to come to a complete halt as I had ended up stationary.
It worked best if Klaus rode in front in the rolling bits, so he did so a lot of the time.
We rounded a corner and passed an old factory with this most wonderful chimney. The Leaning Chimney of Usch.
It was an impressively tall chimney but everything was very derelict.
And here below is Alfie posing beside the Kylltal Radweg signage.
What was cool on this tour was that we went through two railway tunnels (there would have been a third but there was a detour on the route so we missed it). They are impressive constructions, presumably with two rail lines originally going through them, now single track which leaves space for a bike lane.
The tunnel was cool and dark inside and we discovered that Alfie doesn‘t have many reflectives on the back – Klaus said all he could really see of me was the tiny red LED light from my motor wheel sensor at the back!
We then reached Kyllburg – the name ‚burg‘ gives a bit of a clue, as it means fortress which is usually built on a hill. Kyllburg was indeed hilly.
We winched our way slowly up a long, long slope and near the top I saw this lovely wicker stork with a mask on his beak!
We had a very long, slow climb out of Kyllburg which was hard work! The battery in my motor was clearly taking a beating and was showing a rather lower energy reserve than I would like. We both got really hot by the time we got to the top of the 2km climb.
The view at the top was worth it though!
What goes up must come down… and so we shot down the other side of the hill and I ended up with my highest trike speed for a while – 65km/h. My brakes weren‘t brilliant so after this downhill I fiddled about with the disk pads and things improved a bit, although they were still a bit uneven.
We had decided we would divert to Bitburg for lunch as it is a major town in this region, although was a 4km detour from the Kylltal Radweg. The detour started with a nice bridge.
But then continued with a long, long slow climb. Bitburg, too, is at the top of a hill, and we were grinding our way up slowly. I knew we weren‘t even halfway on our route for the day so I had a bit of range anxiety with my battery.
We arrived in Bitburg and there wasn‘t much open (it is a Sunday) but we did find the Prinz Café with its very friendly proprietor who was keen to speak to me in English.
He also kindly took my battery and put it on to charge whilst we had our cake.
We had a good chat with him and he recommended a few places to visit on our tour.
After about an hour we headed back towards the Kylltal Radweg, this time enjoying a downhill run instead of the tough uphill on the way in.
We were in a quite leafy and green section with lush grass, quite a lot of insects, interesting birds (I saw a greater spotted woodpecker) and more. We saw this chap wheeling around above us – I think he might be a kite (Milan in German)
We were also impressed by a lot of the buildings we saw. This image below shows the railway station building for a small village!
We were mostly riding beside the river on asphalt, but there were a couple of bumpier sections, including a couple of kilometres where it wasn‘t asphalt just forest path. These were OK on the trikes, although I had to tighten up my mudguards a couple of times as they start to swing about with the bumps. There were a couple of more bumpy concrete-type surfaces, such as in the photo below.
Although our mega climb of the day out of Kyllburg was behind us, there were still lots of little ups and downs. And some of the downs were quite steeply down!
And then we would round a corner and see a lovely bridge, or house, or scenery.
Klaus kindly stopped in the middle of this mini ford for the photo below, and then couldn‘t get traction to get out again. I zoomed across and then came and helped him with a good push.
Then it was time for another tunnel, very similar to the first.
After a while the route seemed flatter as we were making our way down from the Eifel. We had the path to ourselves most of the time, as you can see from the photo below. That‘s Klaus in the distance.
At Kordel I felt a bit peckish and we saw a Guest House that looked like it might be open. I rang the doorbell and the lady said she would come, so we sat outside in the sunshine. The grey morning in Gerolstein had improved into a sunny afternoon nearing Trier and we were shedding layers throughout the day.
The lady said she could provide tea and coffee but no cake. That was fine. But then she came out with a slice of Black Forest Gateau and said „something for the lady“, and for Klaus she provided some Rosinen Brot.
She said to us a bit later on that it was actually a slice of cake she had bought for herself, so we were very grateful. It tasted really good!
The lady warned us that the cycle path down to the next town was closed and we would have to go on the main road, so we knew what to do when we reached the closed path sign and took the main road. There was no cycle path and we were of course much slower than the 70 limit but I found the car drivers very courteous and not bullying. A nice change!
And then we were at the point where the Kyll flows into the Mosel. We couldn‘t actually see the point, but it was behind this shrubbery here.
We now had about 15km to go to reach our hotel, but on pretty much entirely flat terrain as we are in the Mosel valley.
We faffed around the Trier harbour area and then eventually crossed the Mosel and made our way slowly through the pedestrian zone to our hotel which was just behind the Porta Nigra.
They had some good secure bike parking for us.
And we had a mini balcony to dry our washing!
After a short rest we went for a walk around Trier, of course having another look at the Porta Nigra.
We had an evening meal of a burger and Klaus enjoyed a beer (although not a Bitburger).
We loved looking at the beautiful buildings in Trier.
And finished up with an ice cream. I hope you can see Porta Nigra in the background!
And our route for today?
And here are the statistics:
90.4 km at an average speed of 17 kph. Total riding time 5:19:06.
And a few more details:
Tomorrow the plan is to cycle along the Mosel to Bernkastel-Kues and see if we can find a nice hotel there. Weather looks good too!
One week ago Klaus bought a new trike. Today we set off for a cycle tour with this trike (and mine).
Klaus had yesterday off work and he spent some of the time doing a bit of trike maintenance, such as fitting a holder for his Garmin GPS, fitting bar tape onto his handlebars to replace the rather grotty foam ones and also fitted two new mirrors. Malcolm the Sprint X was ready to roll.
When I got home from work yesterday we put both trikes in the car – choosing a rather unsuitable time to do it, as we had a massive rainstorm. But we both wanted to get the job done so we managed to load the bikes only getting a little wet in the process.
To load two ICE Sprints in an Opel Insignia is not actually too difficult as it‘s such a large car. We put the back seats down and then pushed Alfie folded up to behind the front seats, then turned him round so his nose was pointing at one back window and his tail the other, and then we could put Malcolm in behind him in the boot proper. We stuffed the luggage in the back seat footwells.
We had been watching the weather forecast for a few days as it wasn‘t ideal – the warm May weather was turning cooler and rainier. But we were putting ourselves under no pressure, if the weather is awful one day we won‘t do any riding. Simple.
Saturday morning dawned rather grey and rainy-looking. We said goodbye to Poppy and set off at about 9:15 on the two hour drive to Gerolstein in the Eifel hills range.
We went through some mega rain storms on the journey to Gerolstein which meant we were slower on the motorway in places than normal. But we arrived safely at the hotel at 11:30am so very early, but I had pre-warned them that we would be delivering the trikes.
The receptionist was very helpful and friendly and showed us where we could park the trikes, in their covered parking area. It‘s not a locked parking area but we were not worried about this – Klaus had a lock for the trikes and they aren‘t as interesting to try out as Velomobiles.
We unloaded the car and rebuilt the trikes, fitting their mudguards as well due to the rainy forecast.
We then took our luggage to the hotel room (Klaus also took Malcolm’s seat with him) and then it was time to me to head off.
I was driving to Cochem to park the car at a possible finish point of our tour. Cochem is easy to access by train so if we don‘t end up there we can easily pick up the car via train. We had also found a very good value parking area – 15 € for a month. I headed off there.
My journey was along a lot of winding roads around the volcanic Eifel region. There were some good views and some sunshine and blue skies as well as more mega rain. I was briefly on the A1 motorway and saw a nasty-looking accident on the other carriageway. This was in a very heavy rainshower and we all slowed down some more after seeing that!
I arrived in Cochem at 12.48 and the bus was due to leave at 13:13. It was one bus every two hours so I didn‘t want to miss it. But first, the parking.
Strangely the parking signs had a different amount to the 15€ for a month. They said 5€ per day, but a maximum rate for 20 days of 20€ if you had a Cochem (COC) number plate. Which we did not. So for the 5 days I estimated was a sensible amount for our tour, we would need 25€.
The problem was… I had 2 x 10€ notes and 2 x 50€. And the machine did not give change. I didn‘t want to pay 50€ for a 25€ parking charge, so decided to walk to the bus stop to buy my bus ticket and so get change of a 50€ note.
The walk to the bus stop turned out to be longer than I thought as there wasn‘t a cut-through towards the railway station so I had to walk three sides of a rectangle instead of the short side. I arrived at 13:03 and saw a bus waiting at the stop – without any destination written on the front and with the driver eating his lunch.
The bus had a sign on the front door saying you couldn‘t go in that way and couldn‘t buy tickets from the bus driver. OK, so where do I buy the tickets? There was no machine near the bus stop and I went into the railway station and only saw a Deutsche Bahn ticket machine. I had investigated the Deutsche Bahn tickets on the Internet and it displayed the bus route (number 500) but doesn‘t give a price or the possibility to buy the tickets. I had found the price online, 10.80€, but there was no option on that website to buy a ticket.
So I went to the bus door and did an „Entschuldigen Sie“ to the driver, who opened the door for me. I asked where could I buy a ticket for the bus to Gerolstein. He said „not from me“. I said I was aware of this, but where was a ticket machine. He said he had no idea where I can buy them from, but I could just get on the bus if I wanted.
I said I needed to go and pay for my parking and I would see if I could find a ticket machine too. He said he would leave at 13:13.
I went into the café next to the railway station and ordered a bottle of water, simply to break up my 50€ note. I didn‘t actually want to drink anything as it looked as though I had no chance of the loo and had a 90 minute bus journey ahead of me! But now I had some change for the parking ticket machine.
So I went back to where the car was parked and put in my 25€.
So we had to either finish our tour by Thursday lunchtime or at least go past Cochem and buy a couple of days more if we were going to extend it. 5€ a day is a fair price though.
So now I needed to get back to the bus and buy a ticket somehow. Time was marching on, so I semi-jogged back from the car park to the railway station/bus stop. I am no runner/jogger!
I got back to the bus at 13:12. No time to play with the Deutsche Bahn ticket machine in the hall, instead I got on the bus to see if there was a ticket machine inside it (like there often are in trams). No.
So I then asked the people on the bus „where can I buy a ticket?“ They all shrugged their shoulders.
The driver heard this and said „I can‘t sell you one because of Corona“ (which I knew). But then he said „Take a seat.“
I said I would try to download the App and then buy a ticket.
There was a sign right in front of me with the logo of the ticket company:
This VRT is the Trier public transport company. And they had an App!
So I started downloading it (signal wasn‘t great) and we set off about 30 seconds after I had sat down, first driving along the Mosel. It was good to see it – my last Mosel tour had been 10 years ago.
The App eventually downloaded. It seemed I could only buy tickets for bus journeys in the future (not ones I had already started) but I assumed the ticket would be valid for all journeys. So I found it, bus number 100.
„Price not available“. No chance to buy a ticket. Great.
I was unable to buy a ticket from the driver, from a machine on the bus, from the app, and from the non-existent ticket machine at the bus stop. So I gave up. I would be a Schwarzfahrer. I have a suitable colour face mask for this highway robbery.
I did wonder how many other passengers actually had a valid ticket as no-one seemed to know how to buy one. There were 5-6 other passengers on board and we were all wearing face masks. One guy had one he had made out of a cut up face flannel with a bit of string.
The journey was very scenic, climbing steeply up the valley side of Cochem with some great views down to the Mosel. Then it was up and down around the volcanic Eifel region, through towns and villages. The bus driver was very skilled and it was a comfortable journey.
At one point we met the 500 bus coming the other way down a very narrow bit of road and the two buses stopped and the drivers had a five minute chat. All very friendly. These busses were also towing a trailer with a rack to hold up to 10 bikes – there were no bikes on either bus. The cycle tourist season is not going well due to Corona.
We were soon nearing Gerolstein and the rain cleared away to leave blue skies and sunshine. We passed a huge volcano caldera (Maar) and I think there are several others in this region. I think the volcanoes of the Eifel are technically only dormant, not extinct, so we could be in for a surprise on this tour!
I arrived back at the station in Gerolstein, got off the bus and then walked to the hotel. When I got there Klaus wasn‘t there, he had walked to meet me at the bus stop and somehow we had missed each other. I was very pleased to see him as I needed to go up to the room for the loo and he had the key!
After I had had a few minutes to chill out we went out for a very late lunch in Gerolstein which was a bowl of soup for me, a salad for Klaus, and then a crepe as a dessert (Klaus had a chocolate cake).
This was a very late lunch, nearly 4pm, but we still wanted an evening meal a few hours later so walked to a Pizzeria. We had a book with vouchers for 10% off the meal but of course we forgot to take the voucher with us!
And when in Gerolstein…
We walked around Gerolstein a little, including visiting the fountain outside our hotel.
And just around the corner was the river Kyll, which we will follow down the valley to Trier. It‘s not very wide or deep here!
We also saw a huge storage area with bottles of Gerolsteiner Water.
A great German word on this signpost!
And a German false friend. „Shooting“ with your whole family isn‘t generally considered a good thing in English!
Our Hotel Garni am Brunnenplatz is very nice, I can definitely recommend it. The room is pleasant, the staff very friendly and helpful, and we also have breakfast in our room rate too.
Tomorrow we will set off on the Kylltal Radweg. This heads to Trier and is 70km long, with 10km then along the Mosel to Trier. This is a manageable distance in a day on a trike but if the weather is bad we may have a shorter day stage. Trier is a nice place to visit, I have stayed there a couple of times before, and phoned this afternoon to book a hotel near Porta Nigra. We don‘t want to just whizz along, we want to stop and see the scenery – one of the great benefits of the trike over the Velomobile – but we have plenty of time so that should be no problem.
We were both pretty tired by 9pm, not just the driving but also the excitement of starting a tour and also we have both had a fairly tough few months at work. It is good to have a break!